Mar. 19, 2002 --
This Thursday (Mar. 21) Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon (R-CA), chair of thhe Subcommittee on 21st Century Competitiveness of the U. S. House of Representatives' Committee on Education and the Workforce will hold an oversight hearing on the Assistive Technology Act (10:30 a.m. in Room 2175 of the Rayburn House Office Building). A live webcast will be available at http://edworkforce.house.gov/schedule.htm
This first House hearing on the law in 9 years is the result of efforts last fall to save the Act. Unless there is an amendment this year to extend the program, 23 states' ATA programs will not be funded in the FY 2003 budget.
"Our technology-dependent society has made this program increasingly significant and relevant over the years," assistive technology advocate Jane West told the Section 504 Compliance Advisor newsletter last October.
The Assistive Technology Act of 1998 is the major legislation involving assistive technology. The "Tech Act," as it is sometimes called, funds state programs designed to address the assistive technology needs of individuals with disabilities. "Assistive Technology" -- AT -- is defined under the Act as "any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of an individual with a disability."
Many states' AT projects get funding both through the Assistive Technology Act and from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research. You can learn more about your state's AT project from NCDDR at http://www.ncddr.org/relativeact/statetech/ More information about the Assistive Technology Act is available from the National Center for the Dissemination of Disability Research at http://www.ncddr.org/relativeact/statetech/ata98.html Another good source of information on NIDRR's AT projects is at http://www.assistivetech.net/webresources/techActProjects.cfm -- there's also a good overview of assistive technology from NC State University at http://www.ncsu.edu/it/dss/
A useful archive of AT articles is available from California's Assistive Technology network is online at http://www.atnet.org/articles/