Assistive Technology

Assistive Technology (AT)

Assistive Technology (AT) can be a "device" or "service." A device is any item, piece of equipment, or system that increases, maintains or improves the functional capabilities of a person/people with a disability.  AT devices help people with disabilities to do what they are able to do better and for a longer period of time. For example, AT can be your wheelchair, splints, a cane, adaptive eating utensils, or a usefully placed piece of velcro. Some AT devices are "high-tech" (like computers),some are "low-tech" (like velcro) and some fall in-between. (excerpt from MassMATCH)

If you have a Spinal Cord Injury, you may need different types of AT based upon the level of your injury. There is a wide range of products that are available for you to rent or purchase based upon your level of need.

 


 

 

Where can I find AT?

In Massachusetts, we have several resources to find AT. One of the most comprehensive websites is called MassMATCH. This website stands for Massachusetts' Initiative to Maximize Assistive Technology in Consumer's Hands, and is through the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission. This site provides resources on finding and funding your AT needs through the commonwealth and based upon your needs.

Demonstration Centers - Perhaps you are just not quite ready to purchase AT, or you're not quite sure what you need and how things work. If you are interested in a Demo of AT, you can find resources throughout the state called "Demonstration Centers." These centers allow for people with disabilities and their families/caregivers to see, learn about and try out different AT. These centers are all over the state, from Western Mass through the Boston Metro area.

Borrowing AT If you will need to try out some AT at home before purchasing, there are centers that will allow you to take devices home, and help assess your needs. Borrowing AT can also help you to meet some needs if your current AT is being serviced. Some centers also offer long-term borrowing services. 

AT Services and Training - Through MassMATCH, they have partnered with New England INDEX to create an AT services directory. If you need evaluation, training, service/repairs, sales, rentals of AT - you can find the resources there. By selecting your need, your specific AT, your region and/or town - the search engine will point you to a resource that is helpful to you.

AT Swap and Shop - If you're ready to move forward with purchasing and/or trading equipment you can begin here. Different types of AT have different costs - and some are more affordable than others. Many people find that swapping AT - or purchasing used AT equipment is the way to go. GetATStuff.com is a website that serves all of the New England Area, and features used equipment posted for sale or donation. REquipment also provides refurbished equipment for free and accepts gently used donations.  The MassMATCH School Share is  used by MA school systems. If you're an educator, this resource may be helpful to you - listed on the website are AT inventory from participating schools that may be available to swap to other school systems. 

AT purchase - If you're ready to purchase new AT devices, this is the resource for you. On this MassMATCH webpage, there are links to different AT databases - listing the manufacturers and prices on all types of AT equipment (ranging from low-tech to high-tech). You can search by many different terms - including: product category, age range, brand, level of disability, type of disability etc.

 

 

 


 

How can I pay for AT?

Different AT devices have different costs based upon their level of technology and your level of need. There are some questions that can be asked to find the resource that is appropriate for you.

(1) Is it medically necessary? - If yes (or you're unsure) - you can start with this resource. Medically necessary AT is usually provided by public or private health insurance. You may also see the term "durable medical equipment" (DME) - this is the same as Medically Necessary AT. A wheelchair (powered or manual) is an example of DME.  Unfortunately, sometimes it is difficult to navigate your health insurance and communicate with your providers. Here is some information on Public and Private insurance  provided by DATI - The Delaware Assistive Technology Initiative.

(2) Is it for home, work or school? If yes, then this may be the resource for you. There are different resources to fund by purpose - for home/community, for work, or for school. These links will take you to the appropriate MassMATCH page for each category. There you can select your specific need.

(3) Is it for Telecommunications?This resource outlines the type of telecommunications technology (i.e., TTY), and free relay services.

(4) What else is available? Other Loan programs are available to help finance AT. Some are public sources, and some are private sources. Most of these sources can be used to purcahse AT, DME, perform home modifications (i.e., adding bars, ramps etc.), or vehicle and vehicle modificatons. The Massachusetts Assistive Technology Loan Program (MATLP) is state funded, and helps provide low-interest loans to help obtain the needed AT devices.  The Home Modification Loan Program (HMLP) is also a state funded program that helps provide low- or no-interest loans for access and safety modifications for the home. The Central Bank Special Needs Loan is a private loan that helps provide funding for consumers to purcahse AT, including retrofitting a car/van, and home. There are additional private loans that are available through Citizens Bank, and also Access Loans through the Digital Federal Credit Union.

 

We hope that you find this information on Assistive Technology helpful. If you have questions, please feel free to fill out our contact form or contact us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it