AT Act Frequently Asked Questions
What is Assistive Technology?
Assistive Technology (AT) is any item, device, or piece of equipment used to maintain or improve the functionality of people with disabilities, allowing them to be more independent in education, employment, recreation, and daily living activities. AT includes the services necessary to get and use the devices, including assessment, customization, repair, and training.
What is the Assistive Technology Act?
Legislation was originally passed in 1988 to help increase awareness of assistive technology, access to assistive technology, and acquisition of assistive technology. The law was reauthorized in 2004 with significant changes converting it from a competitive grant program to a formula grant program for State AT Programs (Section 4 formula grantees) and Protection and Advocacy AT Programs (Section 5 formula grantees). The 2004 reauthorization also authorized and described a set of state level and state leadership activities for State AT Programs to implement. To learn more about the specifics of the AT Act statutes see the other resources listed below these FAQ’s. Congress successfully reauthorized the AT Act in December, 2022. The last reauthorization was in 2004. This 2022 legislation, titled, The 21st Century Assistive Technology Act, updates and modernizes the Assistive Technology Act.
Who gets Section 4 Assistive Technology Act funding?
All 50 states, four US territories, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico receive formula grant funding under Section 4 of the Assistive Technology (AT) Act of 2004. These 56 grantees are required to carry out a continuum of specified state level and state leadership activities that promote the ability of people with disabilities to know about, have access to, and ultimately be better able to obtain assistive technology (AT).
How much federal funding do States and Territories receive?
The Administration for Community living administers the Section 4 State AT Program and Section 5 Protection and Advocacy AT Program grants. A list of Section 4 grant awards by state can be found on the ACL Assistive Technology website. State AT Programs leverage significant amounts of additional funding from other public and private sources and deliver a large return on investment for the small amount of federal appropriations received. This return on investment is summarized in the 2022 Return on Investment (ROI) report.
What services do State AT Programs provide?
There are four state level activities authorized by the AT Act. AT Demonstration activities provide opportunities for people to become familiar with specific types of AT by comparing and contrasting the functions and features of devices through hands-on exploration guided by a knowledgeable professional. AT Device Loan activities allow individuals to borrow AT for a limited time period to try out and determine if a device will meet their needs before a purchase is made. AT Reutilization activities support the reuse of assistive technology that is no longer needed or used by its original owner and is acquired by a new owner at substantial cost savings. AT State Financing activities support the purchase/acquisition of AT through financial loans or other initiatives that directly provide AT to consumers at no cost using dollars from non-AT Act sources or save consumers money when purchasing AT. State Leadership activities authorized by the AT Act include providing training, technical assistance, information and referral and public awareness throughout the state. The AT Flow Chart (pdf) provides an overview of how the AT Act authorized state level and state leadership activities provide an integrated continuum of services to enable individuals with disabilities to learn about, try, and obtain assistive technology to meet their needs.
Who do State AT Programs serve?
State AT Programs serve all individuals of any age and with any type of disability, functional limitation or chronic health condition. Programs also provide services to other individuals, organizations, agencies and providers who support these individuals. For example, a friend or family member or other entity may access services on behalf of an individual who may benefit from AT.
Does a person need a referral to get State AT Program services?
No, a referral is not needed.
Does a person need an appointment to get State AT Program services?
Possibly. The need for an appointment differs from one program to another and may depend on the service you are seeking. It is best to contact your state program before visiting. Even for programs that do not require an appointment, making an appointment for your visit is a good way to ensure the appropriate staff will be available for you.
Is there a cost for State AT Program services?
Possibly. State programs provide many services at no charge. However, some programs do charge a small fee for a particular service. For example, if you borrow a device through the Equipment Loan program, you may be required to pay for return shipping. In addition, many programs offer additional services that are not supported by AT Act funding and may assess a fee for those services. Contact your state program for any questions regarding cost of services.
How do I find my State AT Program?
Information for each State AT Program can be found in the Directory for State AT Programs.
AT Act Resources
- History of AT Act (PDF) – A history of the AT Act from the original 1989 Technology Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act (known as the Tech Act) through to the current 2004 law.
- Summary of AT Act Section 4 Grantee Requirements (PDF)
- AT Act PowerPoint (PDF)– A Power Point presentation on the Assistive Technology Act provides an overview of the legislative history of the AT Act, from the 1989 “Tech Act” to the 2004 law, with an emphasis on funding and activities authorized. It also includes a more in depth review of the requirements of Section 4 of the current law specific to State AT Programs. It can be downloaded and adapted by adding state level specifics as needed for state or local use.
- Section Six Overview (PDF)– An overview of the provisions of Section 6 of the AT Act, National Activities, with notations of which sections have been funded historically.
- AT Flow Chart of Section 4 Services (PDF)
- Flujo de servicios de tecnología asistencial (AT Flow Chart of Section 4 Services)