Assistive Technology

DRM provides advocacy assistance to individuals who seek assistive technology services and devices in order to be more independent in their everyday lives.  This includes in the home, workplace, the community and at school.

An AT device “means 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 individuals with disabilities.” 29 USC 3002(a)(3). The term “AT device” certainly covers a range of equipment to overcome limitations to mobility (wheelchairs, scooters, walkers), sight (optical scanning devices, Braille printers), speaking (speech generating devices), and hearing (hearing aids, cochlear implants). It also includes adaptations to everyday items, like hand controls on a car or an adapted computer keyboard. -- From Neighborhood Legal Services

 DRM's Recent Work

DRM Assists Student with Obtaining Assistive Technology

The parent of an 11 year old student with an intellectual disability contacted DRM because she had not been provided the text-to-voice technology necessary for her to access the general education curriculum.  DRM assisted the parent with information about requesting AT at an IEP team meeting and the parent was able to secure agreement to the provision of text-to-speech technology.

DRM Intervention Leads to MaineCare Approval of Prostheses

A 49 year old man who is a bilateral lower extremity amputee contacted DRM seeking MaineCare coverage for replacement prostheses that had been prescribed by his medical providers but his request for prior authorization had been denied. DRM informed MaineCare that we were representing the client, and asked the prosthetic provider to resubmit the application with additional information to support the request. After re-submission, the request for prior authorization was approved.

 Resources

Myths and Facts Surrounding Assistive Technology Devices and Services

In January 2024, the U.S. Department of Education released a guidance document that dispels common misconceptions regarding AT.

What is Assistive Technology?

Assistive Technology (AT) is any item, software, equipment, or product that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of persons with disabilities

AT is important because it helps people gain independence! Curious about what AT is? Check out the video below! 

This resource is available in multiple formats on DRM's Youtube Channel, including closed and open-captioned English, closed and open-captioned Spanish, and American Sign Language. Versions without background music are also available, and audio descriptions are provided for each video.

Supported Decision-Making Basics

Supported Decision-Making (SDM), often used as an alternative to guardianship, recognizes that people with decision-making challenges can retain their decision-making capacity by using supports to help them make choices.

Learn how SDM can be used to help preserve a person's autonomy and independence, while still providing the person with support from family, friends, and community. Additionally, this training will provide a brief history of SDM and include information about exciting changes to Maine's guardianship law, which now requires SDM and other less restrictive alternatives to be considered prior to ordering guardianship.

Co-presenters: Kile Pelletier, Program Associate, Speaking Up for Us & Staci Converse, Managing Attorney, Disability Rights Maine

Resource:

Supported Decision-Making Handbook

How to Request a COVID-Related Reasonable Accommodation

Everyone’s life is currently affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of COVID-19, many providers have made new rules and changed the way they offer services to people with disabilities. Sometimes these new rules make it hard for people to access their services because of their disability. If you or someone you know is having difficulty receiving services because of these new rules, you might be able to request a “reasonable accommodation” based on your disability. This webinar will talk about what a reasonable accommodation is, how to request a reasonable accommodation and what to do if your provider says no. There  will also be time at the end for questions and answers.

Handout:

Assistive Technology for Effective Distance Communication

View Presentation

In this webinar, participants will learn about:

  • Maine Relay and the variety of services that help people with disabilities use the telephone.
  • How Maine’s Telecommunication Equipment Program helps low-income Mainers stay connected.
  • The National Deaf-Blind Equipment Program and the equipment, training, and support that is available for low-income Mainers who experience a combination vision and hearing loss.

Presenters

  • Debra Bare-Rogers
  • Lisa Penney
  • Scott Murray

The Promise of Assistive Technology to Enhance Activity and Work Participation

"With support from the Social Security Administration, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine convened an ad hoc, expert committee to provide an analysis of the use in adults of selected assistive products and technologies, within four categories including, wheeled and seated mobility devices, upper-extremity prostheses, hearing devices, and communication and speech technologies. In The Promise of Assistive Technology to Enhance Activity and Work Participation, the committee describes the range of available products and technologies in each of these categories and examines how they may mitigate the effects of impairments and the extent to which they may help enable people with disabilities to enter or return to the workforce."

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, May 9, 2017

What Families Need to Know About Accessible Instructional Materials

Recorded on August 26, "What Families Need to Know About Accessible Instructional Materials" was an hour-long discussion about students who have trouble reading materials, such as textbooks and workbooks due to a "print disability."

In the opening presentation by Cynthia Curry, we discussed how to determine if your student has a "print disability" and how Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM) may help. We also spent time with the "microphones open" allowing participants to ask questions and discuss details.

Maine CITE Coordinating Center, August 26, 2015

A Basic Guide to Self-Advocacy

This manual is intended to provide a simple yet informative overview of how to be a self-advocate. This manual is not a substitute for legal advice. If you have specific questions or need assistance with a particular issue, please contact Disability Rights Maine.

 News