Access to assistive devices, technologies and elated services is critical for individuals with disabilities and chronic conditions for all ages. However, millions of Americans do not have access to the assistive devices and technologies that they require to maximize their health and quality of life.
- More than 2.5 million Americans report they need Assistive Technology that they do not have, with about 70 percent citing cost as the primary reason (National Center for Health Statistics, 1992)
- Almost one quarter of persons 50 and older with disabilities who do not use any special equipment said that equipment such as a hearing aid, wheelchair, cane or walker would improve their lives (AARP, 2003)
The assistive devices and technologies included:
- Wheelchair or scooter (51%)
- Hearing aids (51%)
- Walker, cane or crutches (38%)
- Aids for bathing or using the toilet (38%)
- Orthopedic equipment (34%)
- Other home modifications for movement (30%)
- Other aids for daily activities (24%)
- Communications and reading equipment (18%)
- Oxygen or respirator (12%)
- Between 1994 and 1997, 1.3 million working Americans with disabilities reported needing one or more additional assistive devices (National Institute on Disability an Rehabilitation Research, 2001)
- Less tan 20 percent of the estimated 28 million Americans who could benefit from hearing devices currently have them (Hearing Review, 2000)
- 50 percent of Assistive Technology users are 75 percent of those with home modifications paid for it themselves or with the help of family embers, not from any third party payers (National Center for Health Statistics, 1992)
- Individuals with disabilities are only half as likely to have access to the Internet as those without a disability: 21.6 percent compared to 42.1 percent (National Telecommunication and Information Administration, 2000)
- More than one-third of homeowners would like to make home modifications that would prevent injuries and make their lives easier but have not done so, largely because of cost (AARP, 2003)
- 27 percent reported that they would like to add grab bars in the bathroom
- 25 percent stated They would like to have an accessible shower with no shower lip
- 22 percent reported that they would like to ad extra handrails to their halls and stairways.
As demonstrated above, many individuals with disabilities continue to live without needed services or devices. They are often wrongly denied IT and/or AT by school systems, public and private insurance sources, and employers, among others. But since Information and Assistive Technology can be right, disabled people may have recourse if their request for funding is turned down.
All government programs and most private insurance contracts have an appeal or review process that individuals can turn to if denied benefits.
Understanding entitlements and laws will assist in successful advocacy efforts regarding an individual's right to Information and Assistive Technology.