Assistive technology is essential for many people with disabilities, and businesses with more than 15 employees find themselves subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Title I regulations. Cost can be a concern in providing your employees with the assistive tech they need, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are some of the options available to small business owners who want financial support to provide assistive tech in the workplace.
Title I of the ADA specifies that employers cannot discriminate against people with disabilities. It also says that employers must provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities. You can find a list of reasonable accommodations here. As an employer, you don’t have to change or remove an essential component of a job role, provide personal equipment such as wheelchairs and hearing aids, or lower your production standards.
How to fund assistive tech
Funding assistive tech doesn’t have to put financial stress on your business. With dozens of options available to you, there is bound to be something that will help.
Grants and programs
- ADA Technical Assistance Program: The Technical Assistance program provides education and information to employers. If you’re unsure what your obligations are, visit ADA Technical Assistance Program.
- Assistive Technology National Activities Program (ATAP): The National Activities Program offers advice, support, and access to devices. You can reuse assistive tech that others no longer need, loan tech, and even attend device demonstrations if required. ATAP also offers financing options, such as loans.
- Grants and Programs: Check your state’s government portal for details of the federal grants or programs they run. Most states have some source of finance for assistive tech. Read more about securing accessibility and disability grants to help fund accessibility initiatives.
- Device Loan Library: With the Access Technologies, Inc. Device Loan Library, there’s no need to buy new equipment. You can borrow what you need for low costs.
- Telecommunication Devices Access Program (TDAP): TDAP provides telecommunications equipment for people with disabilities.
Several programs and non-profits exist to help you access assistive tech for your employees with disabilities. These programs include:
- National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program provides equipment for people with hearing and vision disabilities to access telecommunications, the internet, and other communication support.
- Bellows Fellows (United Cerebral Palsy) provides equipment for people with cerebral palsy.
- Brighter Tomorrow Grant (Multiple Sclerosis Society) helps employers and individuals access assistive tech for people living with MS.
- MDA National Equipment Program may have resources for people with Muscular Dystrophy.
A few other options exist, such as approaching charities specific to your employee's condition or needs. You can also approach community groups, search forums, or social media groups for assistive tech at low prices.