Assistive Technology

   Current Section
 Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services Home
Frequently Asked Questions

Q&A on Technical Assistance for the Assistive Technology Act of 1998 as amended

The Assistive Technology Act of 1998 (AT Act) was amended on Oct. 25, 2005, and is administered by the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA). The AT Act provides grants to states to maintain comprehensive, statewide programs (Statewide AT Programs) that are designed to increase access to assistive technology for individuals with disabilities. In addition, the AT Act provides grants to each state for protection and advocacy related to AT (PAAT).

For fiscal year 2005, the AT Act also provides grants for Alternative Financing Programs (AFPs) authorized under the Assistive Technology Act of 1998, as in effect prior to the 2004 amendments, to pay for the federal share of the cost of establishing or expanding financing mechanisms to allow individuals and their families to purchase AT devices and services. Currently, there are 56 Statewide AT Programs, 57 PAAT programs, and 31 AFPs.

Section 6 of the AT Act requires that RSA award, on a competitive basis, a grant, contract or cooperative agreement to an entity to provide training and technical assistance to entities funded under the AT Act and entities not funded under the act. The following Q&A is intended to provide information to interested parties and the general public about the upcoming competition to award a grant, contract or cooperative agreement to an entity to provide this training and technical assistance.

Q:
  When will this grant, contract or cooperative agreement be awarded?
A:
  RSA intends to award a new grant, contract or cooperative agreement no later than Sept. 30, 2005.
     
Q:
  When will the notice of priority for this competition be published in the Federal Register?
A:
  Based on Section 437(d) of the General Education Provisions Act (GEPA), publication of a proposed priority and the solicitation of comments on that priority through a Federal Register notice is not required, because the priority will be completed within the first year of the AT Act being reauthorized and substantially changed. As such, RSA is developing only a notice of final priority and a notice inviting applications for this competition. RSA will publish these notices in the Federal Register in time to allow the competition to be completed and the grant, cooperative agreement or contract to be awarded no later than Sept. 30, 2005.
     
Q:
  Will the priority be for a grant, contract or cooperative agreement?
A:
  The AT Act gives the secretary of education the discretion to award a grant, contract or cooperative agreement to an entity to provide training and technical assistance. It is likely that the priority will be for a cooperative agreement
     
Q:
  How many grants, cooperative agreements or contracts will be awarded to provide technical assistance and training to entities funded under the AT Act and to the public?
A:
  According to Section 6(b)(3) of the AT Act, RSA can award only one grant, contract or cooperative agreement to a single entity to provide technical assistance and training. This technical assistance and training must be provided to entities funded under the AT Act, which would include Statewide AT Programs, PAAT programs and AFPs, and entities not funded under the act. The entity to which the grant, contract, or cooperative agreement is awarded will be allowed to fulfill the requirements of the grant, contract or cooperative agreement through subcontracts or subgrants with other entities that have relevant experience and expertise.
     
Q:
  For how many years will the grant, contract or cooperative agreement be awarded?
A:
  While the AT Act does not specify the length of the grant, contract or cooperative agreement, it is likely that it will be for a cooperative agreement for five years.
     
Q:
  How much funding will be available under this grant, contract or cooperative agreement?
A:
  While the amount available is subject to change, RSA projects that it will award approximately $600,000 for the first year of this grant, contract or cooperative agreement.
     
Q:
  Who will be eligible to apply for this grant?
A:
  Eligible entities are entities (including public agencies, nonprofit organizations, for-profit organizations, and institutions of higher education) that have (directly or through a grant or contract) experience and expertise in administering programs, including developing, implementing, and administering the required and discretionary activities described in sections 4 and 5 of the AT Act, and providing technical assistance; and documented experience in and knowledge about banking, finance and microlending. Therefore, an entity can be eligible based on its own experience and expertise, or it can be eligible based on the combined experience and expertise of the entity applying for the grant, contract or cooperative agreement and those entities with which the applicant will collaborate through subcontract or subgrant.
     
Q:
  What activities will the entity that is awarded the grant, contract or cooperative agreement be expected to undertake?
A:
  Section 6(b)(3) of the AT Act describes a number of requirements for technical assistance and training to be provided.

(i) Addresses State-specific information requests concerning assistive technology from entities funded under this Act and public entities not funded under this Act, including--

(I) requests for information on effective approaches to Federal-State coordination of programs for individuals with disabilities, related to improving funding for or access to assistive technology devices and assistive technology services for individuals with disabilities of all ages;

(II) requests for state-of-the-art, or model, Federal, State, and local laws, regulations, policies, practices, procedures, and organizational structures, that facilitate, and overcome barriers to, funding for, and access to, assistive technology devices and assistive technology services;

(III) requests for information on effective approaches to developing, implementing, evaluating, and sustaining activities described in sections 4 and 5 and related to improving funding for or access to assistive technology devices and assistive technology services for individuals with disabilities of all ages, and requests for assistance in developing corrective action plans;

(IV) requests for examples of policies, practices, procedures, regulations, or judicial decisions that have enhanced or may enhance access to funding for assistive technology devices and assistive technology services for individuals with disabilities;

(V) requests for information on effective approaches to the development of consumer-controlled systems that increase access to, funding for, and awareness of, assistive technology devices and assistive technology services; and

(VI) other requests for training and technical assistance from entities funded under this Act and public and private entities not funded under this Act;

(ii) Assists targeted individuals and entities by disseminating information

about --

(I) Federal, State, and local laws, regulations, policies, practices, procedures, and organizational structures, that facilitate, and overcome barriers to, funding for, and access to, assistive technology devices and assistive technology services, to promote fuller independence, productivity, and inclusion in society for individuals with disabilities of all ages; and

(II) technical assistance activities undertaken under clause (i);

(iii) providing State-specific, regional, and national training and technical assistance concerning assistive technology to entities funded under this Act, other entities funded under this Act, and public and private entities not funded under this Act, including--

(I) annually providing a forum for exchanging information concerning, and promoting program and policy improvements in, required activities of the State assistive technology programs;

(II) facilitating onsite and electronic information sharing using state-of-the-art Internet technologies such as real-time online discussions, multipoint video conferencing, and web-based audio/video broadcasts, on emerging topics that affect State assistive technology programs;

(III) convening experts from State assistive technology programs to discuss and make recommendations with regard to national emerging issues of importance to individuals with assistive technology needs;

(IV) sharing best practice and evidence-based practices among State assistive technology programs;

(V) maintaining an accessible website that includes a link to State assistive technology programs, appropriate Federal departments and agencies, and private associations and developing a national toll-free number that links callers from a State with the State assistive technology program in their State;

(VI) developing or utilizing existing (as of the date of the award involved) model cooperative volume-purchasing mechanisms designed to reduce the financial costs of purchasing assistive technology for required and discretionary activities identified in section 4, and reducing duplication of activities among State assistive technology programs; and

(VII) providing access to experts in the areas of banking, microlending, and finance, for entities funded under this Act, through site visits, teleconferences, and other means, to ensure access to information for entities that are carrying out new programs or programs that are not making progress in achieving the objectives of the programs.

The Act also allows RSA to require activities in addition to those listed in clauses (i) through (iii) above. RSA has not yet been decided whether, or what, additional activities will be required.

     
Q:
  How can I provide input into the development of this priority?
A:
 

Based on Section 437(d) of GEPA, the publication of a proposed priority, and the solicitation of comments on that priority through a Federal register notice is not required. However, you may contact the RSA program officer responsible for the AT Act via e-mail or post at the address that follows:

Jeremy Buzzell
Program Specialist
U.S. Department of Education
Rehabilitation Services Administration
400 Maryland Avenue, S.W.
PCP Room 5025
Washington, DC 20202-2800

(202) 245-7319 phone
(202) 245-7591 fax

Jeremy.Buzzell@ed.gov


 
Print this page Printable view Send this page Share this page
Last Modified: 08/22/2006