- About Us
- Programs for Children and Youth
- Oklahoma Equipment Exchange
- DME Reuse
Developing a Funding Strategy ..... 6
Agencies to Assist with Appeals & Advocacy
Client Assistance Program (CAP) ..... 10
Office of Disability Concerns (ODC).... 10
Special Education Resolution Center (SERC)..... 11
Oklahoma Parents Center (OPC)..... 11
Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Inc...... 11
Office of Client Advocacy..... 11
Early Settlement Mediation Programs..... 12
Oklahoma Disability Law Center (ODLC)..... 12
Funding Sources by Age..... 13
Glossary of Assistive Technology Terms ..... 14
The first thing to remember when seeking funding for assistive technology (AT) is that funding is usually available. Though the journey may take a while and may try your patience; do not give up! Persistence is the key, coupled with information.
Determining age, disability and other basic eligibility criteria will shorten the process and allow an individual to move through the subsequent funding steps. Knowing what device or equipment is needed and for what purpose(s) is an important factor, because ALL funding sources have a particular focus or purpose, such as vocational/ employment, education, medical, etc. Thus, knowing the purpose(s) or use of the assistive technology can assist narrowing down the list of possible funding sources.
Ask questions: seek out information, suggestions and guidance from peers, service providers and professionals in the field of assistive technology. Learn ALL you can! Gathering the right information and documenting your need(s) is fundamental in the approach to obtain funding and will become a core part of the request to the funding source(s).
In developing a funding strategy, it is important to follow some basic steps to increase the chances of success. The development and use of funding worksheets can be beneficial and help in working with accuracy and efficiency. We also recommend keeping a list of names, phone numbers, and notes.
Why is Assistive Technology Needed?
This involves identifying the areas AT may be of assistance. You may already have some idea about how AT could provide you with fuller access, inclusion in society and improve your quality of life. However, funding success depends upon clearly describing the need and exactly how AT may assist in the home, school, work and/or in daily community activities.
To be successful in obtaining funding for AT devices and services, it is necessary to justify and document the need(s). At this point, it may be wise to involve a professional and/or an advocate to assist in documenting these need(s). This person should have a great deal of experience or information to help thoroughly and precisely document those needs. Describe the specific benefits of the AT and what the device will enable you to accomplish at home, school, work and/or in daily life in the community. If seeking funding from health insurance providers, Medicaid, etc., determine the health-related and preventative benefits of the AT device (i.e., prevention of accidents/falls, further injury; prevention of physical or health deterioration; additional loss of function; employment; etc).
This professional might be a teacher or early interventionist, a speech therapist, a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, a vocational counselor, an independent living coordinator, an assistive technology professional, or a rehabilitation engineer. The necessary documentation may include input from a combination of these professionals, depending on specific need(s). Involve one or more of these professionals throughout the request, but begin with the documentation of need. This is also the time to involve an advocate and other support persons. Detailed guidelines on documentation of need are included in the next section.
What assistive device, equipment, or service is needed?
Once the need has been defined and documented, the AT devices and services required to fill this need must be identified and described. THIS IS THE CRITICAL STEP IN THE FUNDING PROCESS AND MUST BE DONE IN DETAIL. This includes a specific written justification from the appropriate professionals. This justification can take several forms: a) an evaluation or assessment report, b) a medical prescription, or c) other written justification that may be needed including letters of support.
This information is used to develop a written "documentation of need" or justification and must be written in such a way that it convinces or proves to the funding source of the AT needed for specified purposes or outcomes. The extent, detail and scope of this written justification will also depend on which funding sources are pursued. Later you may find it necessary to come back to this step in the process for further documentation and/or clarification. No matter which funding sources are being approached for obtaining AT, it is vital to demonstrate and document the need. The following is a list of supportive materials that are often essential in documenting these needs:
At this point in the funding process, obtain prices for the AT devices and/or equipment identifying vendors or where it can be purchased. This can be very important because the funding source will always be concerned with the cost of the device, and because the identified dealer of the equipment may be able to help you along in the process. Some funding sources, such as Medicare and Medicaid, ONLY purchase equipment from designated Durable Medical Equipment (DME) dealers that have completed the approval process and appear on the "approved vendor" list. If you plan to approach Medicare or Medicaid, you may have to locate such a dealer.
Is there an alternative device or equipment that will function equally as well?
Based on past funding approvals and denials for assistive technology, there may be a need to determine if any alternative devices that would also meet your need(s). Investigate these alternatives BEFORE applying to any funding source. Be as prepared as possible in order to make the process easier.
When reviewing requests, all funding sources will determine if the charge for the AT devices and/or services is reasonable and at a customary or typical rate. Also, the funding source may have to be convinced that the assistive technology is cost effective. To determine if a request is reasonable, consider the following questions:
Is there a way to borrow, make or fabricate this device or equipment?
If possible visit an AT demonstration center, in order to compare the features of similar devices. If there are no alternative devices that can be found that will meet the particular need, be sure to have that fact well documented. Remember, do not let the cost of the assistive technology prevent selecting the most appropriate AT device or adaptation. This process of matching the technology to needs is crucial to the successful use of AT once it is acquired.
What potential funding sources are available?
Now that you have determined the AT need, begin the process of requesting funding assistance. You may choose to personally pay for the AT, if that is possible. On a case by case basis, there may be sources legally mandated to assist with the purchase of the AT.
Before approaching any one source; it would be helpful to make a list of all possible sources and then prioritize them. This will provide ready options to go to if you have difficulty with the primary choice. The key, again, is to be well-prepared: with choices, with documentation, with determination.
Individuals may want to seek assistance in identifying and approaching funding sources. Possibilities would include the Durable Medical Equipment (DME) vendor, a case manager, a social worker, a health care professional, or one of the professionals that helped the individual to identify the AT devices and/or services to meet the individuals AT need(s). It is important to involve as many support people as possible.
At this point in the process you should ask yourself the following questions:
A personal or home equity loan could be done as a last resort if you just do not wish to get involved with a lot of bureaucracy and red tape. Conventional bank loans, however, may be difficult to obtain for assistive technology. Also, Oklahoma ABLE Tech and BancFirst have the Alternative Financing Program (AFP), a customized lending program for financing assistive technology.
Traditional sources that have provided funding for assistive technology in the past are currently a time when "precedence setting" may occur. A strategy that might be effective in another state may not be as effective in Oklahoma. If the assistive technology is a newly developed device, the funding source may take a conservative "hands-off" attitude. Knowing these things, it is important to plan the strategy and show patience and respect when dealing with prospective funding sources.
Helpful Hints for Approaching Funding Sources
What information is necessary for each funding source to which I will apply?
Paperwork is an essential and necessary part of the funding process. Be prepared to provide extensive support for the
request. Ask specifically what information is required by the funding source. If it is unclear or it is uncertain - ASK QUESTIONS and request clarification (written if necessary).
Each funding source requires information to be submitted. The required information will differ from one funding source to another. However, the following list contains information typically required by most funding sources:
A service provider, will typically assist with gathering and completing all the required paperwork. After the request for assistive technology has met all the criteria and all necessary paperwork has been submitted, you will receive a decision of approval or denial from the funding source.
Why was my application denied? How do I file an appeal?
If the request for funding is denied, you may appeal the decision. The appeals process is an opportunity to approach the funding source and ask for a review of the initial decision. Often, the denial for funding for AT is due to a lack of understanding or knowledge of assistive devices by the eligibility determination specialist. ALL PUBLIC OR GOVERNMENTAL AGENCIES HAVE AN INTERNAL APPEALS PROCESS. YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO REQUEST AN APPEAL AND TO HAVE YOUR REQUEST OR CLAIM REVIEWED. Specifics on the appeals process for public agencies are included, by agency, in the fact sheets in Section III: Public Sources of Funding.
If possible, determine why the initial request was denied. Is further supporting information needed? Was there a lack of funds? Good rapport with the funding source personnel will prove helpful at this point. If you have dealt professionally and respectfully with agency personnel prior to this point, it is likely that these same professionals will be willing to discuss why the request was denied and will make suggestions to assist with the appeal.
Try to find evidence of whether the agency has previously funded such a device in the past. If so, a precedent has been set, and it will be more difficult for the agency to deny your appeal.
Assistive products and devices are becoming available at a much faster rate than are the funds to pay for them. Much of this new and innovative technology can be very expensive. The need for it will continue to be questioned by funding sources and denials will occur. Be aware of the variety of assistive technology options which exist.
Again, make sure to know what specific information is required by the source. Always check paperwork closely to be sure it is complete and correct.
What happens when funding is approved and authorization occurs?
Written approval will be given for the amount of money that has been authorized toward the purchase of the specified assistive technology. If the approval is for the entire or full amount requested/needed, the AT supplier or vendor will process the order and deliver the equipment. If the approval is for less than the full amount, locate other options to fund the remaining amount. This is why it is important to determine ALL potential funding sources as soon as possible, so that you can expedite the process.
Never give up when it comes to funding! Key components in successfully obtaining funding are:
In Oklahoma, there are several resources to assist with the appeals process and/or to pursue other routes, such as legal action. These include the Client Assistance Program (CAP), Office of Disability Concerns, Office of Client Advocacy, Oklahoma Parents Center, Alternative Dispute Early Settlement Mediation Program, Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Special Education Resolution Center, and Oklahoma Disability Law Center.
The Client Assistance Program (CAP), a program within the Office of Disability Concerns, is the advocacy unit that assists eligible persons with complaints, appeals and understanding the 1998 Rehabilitation Act Amendments.
The CAP assists by providing:
William Ginn, Director
Office of Disability Concerns
2401 NW 23rd, Suite 90
Oklahoma City, OK 73107-2423
(405) 521-3756 (Oklahoma City, V)
(800) 522-8224 (statewide, V/TDD)
FAX: (405) 522-6695
The Office of Disability Concerns (ODC) is an independent state agency whose purpose is to help state government develop policies and services that meet the needs of Oklahomans with disabilities. ODC serves as a resource, to people with disabilities, who want to present their views and recommendations to the Governor, the State Legislature and State agencies. The Office of Disability Concerns provides information and referral, technical assistance to individuals with disabilities, businesses and governmental entities on various topics concerning people with disabilities.
2401 NW 23rd, Suite 90
Oklahoma City, OK 73107-2423
(405) 521-3756 (Oklahoma City, V)
(800) 522-8224 (statewide, V/TDD)
FAX: (405) 522-6695
The Special Education Resolution Center (SERC) manages the special education due process hearing system and mediation services for the State of Oklahoma. The duties of SERC have been expanded to include innovative programs to assist parents and school districts to settle disputes at the earliest stage possible. At no cost to either party, SERC provides highly trained hearing officers and mediators to assist with disputes which may develop at any time during the relationship of the parties over special education issues. Additionally, SERC also provides highly trained facilitators during required resolution sessions of due process. SERC provides stakeholder training that supports mutual collaboration. SERC offers support to all children with disabilities, ages 0-21.
Jo Anne Pool-Blades, Program Manager
9726 E 42nd Street, Suite 203
Tulsa, OK 74146
FAX: (918) 270-2062
Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Inc., is a nonprofit Oklahoma corporation providing free legal services to Oklahoma's poor as well as its senior citizens. Attorneys and paralegals at Legal Aid can help with civil (non-criminal) cases involving basic needs. Priority is given to the most urgent cases.
See Appendix C for a list of the Regional Law Centers.
Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Inc.
2915 Classen Blvd., Suite 500
Oklahoma City, OK 73106
The Oklahoma Parents Center is the statewide parent training and information (PTI) center serving parents of children with disabilities. The goal is to educate and support parents, families and professionals in building partnerships that meet the needs of children and youth with the full range of disabilities ages' birth to 26. It is a regionalized model with staff living in the area that they serve. Oklahoma Parents Center provides the following services statewide:
Sharon House, Executive Director
223 N. Broadway, P. O. Box 512
Holdenville, Oklahoma 74848
(877) 553-4332 (V/TDD)
FAX: (405) 379-2106
The Office of Client Advocacy, Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS), provides advocacy assistance, conducts investigation and maintains grievance programs to promote client safety and independence and the delivery of OKDHS programs and services in a fair, honest and professional manner.
Kathryn Brewer, Advocate General
Oklahoma Department of Human Services
P. O. Box 25352
Oklahoma City, OK 73125
(800) 522-8014 (statewide)
FAX: (405) 525-4855
The Alternative Dispute Resolution System in Oklahoma is currently made up of eleven community-based mediation centers (Early Settlement) and twelve programs developed by state agencies. (Appendix A) This system which was authorized (1983) and funded (1985) by the state legislature through the Oklahoma Dispute Resolution Act, which is administered and supervised by the Administrative Director of the Courts (ADC) through his designee, the ADR System Director, with the ongoing input of the Dispute Resolution Advisory Board. The purpose of the system, as stated in the Act is "to provide to all citizens of this state convenient access to dispute resolution proceedings which are fair, effective, inexpensive, and expeditious."
Sue D. Tate, ADR System Director
2100 N. Lincoln Blvd., Suite 3
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
See Appendix B for a list of the Early Settlement Mediation Regional Offices.
The mission of the Oklahoma Disability Law Center, Inc. is to protect, promote and expand the rights of people with disabilities. The ODLC mission reflects a belief that people with disabilities are entitled to be treated with dignity and respect; to be free from abuse, neglect, exploitation and discrimination. The ODLC mission also reflects the belief that people with disabilities are entitled to equal rights and to equally effective access to the same opportunities as are afforded to other members of society.
2828 E 51st St., Suite 302
Tulsa, OK 74105
(918) 743-6220 (V/TDD)
(800) 266-5883 (V/TDD)
Oklahoma City Office
2915 Classen Blvd
300 Cameron Bldg
Oklahoma City, OK 73106
(405) 525-7555 (V/TDD)
(800) 880-7755 (V/TDD)
Additional Sources Across Age Groups include Private Sources, Service Clubs, Fraternal Organizations, Low Interest Loan Programs, Charitable Organizations, Grants, and Foundations