Paying for assistive technology can feel daunting. But there are more funding options available, both public and private, than you might realize. Try the following resources to help you pay for assistive technology devices.
Non-Profit Organizations: Look into non-profit organizations and advocacy groups that focus on your specific disability. These groups can provide you with information on how to purchase assistive technology, as well as direct funding. Look into national and international organizations, such as the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA), the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and United Cerebral Palsy (UCP). Local community organizations, like the Knights of Columbus, might also be able to help. Googling “service organizations near me” is a great place to start!
Faith-Based Organizations and Churches: Many church groups are willing to lend a helping hand to disabled people in their congregations and neighborhoods. See if they’re willing to organize a fundraiser or donate money to help you pay for assistive technology.
Private Insurance: Many private insurance companies will help pay for assistive technology that has been deemed medically necessary by your doctor. Don’t hesitate to ask what they cover!
Agency Caseworkers: Your county’s disabilities board can put you in touch with service and support administrators, who are good resources for information on local, state and other related funding providers.
Medicare: Medicare pays for a limited scope of medical devices, but it never hurts to inquire about whether your assistive technology can be covered. Medicare will often pay for assistive technology that falls under the category of “durable medical equipment.”
Medicaid: Low-income people with disabilities can get coverage for assistive technology that has been deemed medically necessary by a doctor. Medicaid eligibility varies state-to-state, so check the household income requirements in your state. Your doctor or social worker can help you apply for Medicaid. Disabled children on Medicaid should sign up for Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment (EPSDT) appointments. EPSDT is required for child Medicaid patients in every state, and helps determine which pediatric devices are medically necessary and eligible for coverage.
School Programs: Special Education systems in every state will help fund assistive technology for students. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) ensures free public education for all children with disabilities. This includes assistive technologies that make that education possible. Just be sure that the assistive technology you (or your child) need is mentioned in your Individualized Education Plan (IEP). If it’s included in your written plan, it must be provided by the school.
State and Federal Programs: A wide variety of government programs, at the state and federal level, can help people pay for assistive technology. The National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), for example, offers grants and funding to people with disabilities. So does the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) and the Rehabilitative Service Administration (RSA). Also, research your state’s Assistive Technology program. Under the Assistive Technology Act, each U.S. state and territory has an AT Program that provides services to individuals with disabilities, as well as their family members and caretakers.
Veterans Administration: If you’re a United States veteran and your disability is related to your military service, you can receive funding for AT. For help, contact a veteran’s service organization or visit the official Veterans Administation site.
Employers: Your employer might be willing to pay for Assistive Technology that makes your job easier—and there are several tax incentives for employers to do so. Visit Disability.gov for more information.
Scholarships: Disabled people who plan to attend college should look into scholarships that help cover the cost of AT. A comprehensive list of scholarships available to disabled students can be found here.
Private loans: Private lenders can offer you low- or no-interest loans to help cover the cost of assistive technology.
Private fundraising: In the era of social media, online fundraising has never been easier. If you want to raise private funds for assistive technology, ask your family and friends to donate to your GoFundMe or MightyCause page. It never hurts to ask! People might surprise you with their generosity, especially when they know their donation will make the world more accessible.
For a more comprehensive list, check out the Assistive Technology Industry Association’s AT Resources Funding Guide.