Findings and purposes
Congress finds the following:
Over 54,000,000 individuals in the United States have disabilities, with almost half experiencing severe disabilities that affect their ability to see, hear, communicate, reason, walk, or perform other basic life functions.
Disability is a natural part of the human experience and in no way diminishes the right of individuals to—
enjoy self-determination and make choices;
benefit from an education;
pursue meaningful careers; and
enjoy full inclusion and integration in the economic, political, social, cultural, and educational mainstream of society in the United States.
Technology is one of the primary engines for economic activity, education, and innovation in the Nation, and throughout the world. The commitment of the United States to the development and utilization of technology is one of the main factors underlying the strength and vibrancy of the economy of the United States.
As technology has come to play an increasingly important role in the lives of all persons in the United States, in the conduct of business, in the functioning of government, in the fostering of communication, in the conduct of commerce, and in the provision of education, its impact upon the lives of individuals with disabilities in the United States has been comparable to its impact upon the remainder of the citizens of the United States. Any development in mainstream technology will have profound implications for individuals with disabilities in the United States.
Substantial progress has been made in the development of assistive technology devices, including adaptations to existing devices that facilitate activities of daily living that significantly benefit individuals with disabilities of all ages. These devices, including adaptations, increase involvement in, and reduce expenditures associated with, programs and activities that facilitate communication, ensure independent functioning, enable early childhood development, support educational achievement, provide and enhance employment options, and enable full participation in community living for individuals with disabilities. Access to such devices can also reduce expenditures associated with early childhood intervention, education, rehabilitation and training, health care, employment, residential living, independent living, recreation opportunities, and other aspects of daily living.
Over the last 15 years, the Federal Government has invested in the development of comprehensive statewide programs of technology-related assistance, which have proven effective in assisting individuals with disabilities in accessing assistive technology devices and assistive technology services. This partnership between the Federal Government and the States provided an important service to individuals with disabilities by strengthening the capacity of each State to assist individuals with disabilities of all ages meet their assistive technology needs.
Despite the success of the Federal-State partnership in providing access to assistive technology devices and assistive technology services, there is a continued need to provide information about the availability of assistive technology, advances in improving accessibility and functionality of assistive technology, and appropriate methods to secure and utilize assistive technology in order to maximize the independence and participation of individuals with disabilities in society.
The combination of significant recent changes in Federal policy (including changes to section 794d of this title, accessibility provisions of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (42 U.S.C. 15301 et seq.) [now 52 U.S.C. 20901 et seq.], and the amendments made to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 6301 et seq.) by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001) and the rapid and unending evolution of technology require a Federal-State investment in State assistive technology systems to continue to ensure that individuals with disabilities reap the benefits of the technological revolution and participate fully in life in their communities.
The purposes of this chapter are—
increase the availability of, funding for, access to, provision of, and training about assistive technology devices and assistive technology services;
increase the ability of individuals with disabilities of all ages to secure and maintain possession of assistive technology devices as such individuals make the transition between services offered by educational or human service agencies or between settings of daily living (for example, between home and work);
increase the capacity of public agencies and private entities to provide and pay for assistive technology devices and assistive technology services on a statewide basis for individuals with disabilities of all ages;
increase the involvement of individuals with disabilities and, if appropriate, their family members, guardians, advocates, and authorized representatives, in decisions related to the provision of assistive technology devices and assistive technology services;
increase and promote coordination among State agencies, between State and local agencies, among local agencies, and between State and local agencies and private entities (such as managed care providers), that are involved or are eligible to be involved in carrying out activities under this chapter;
increase the awareness and facilitate the change of laws, regulations, policies, practices, procedures, and organizational structures, that facilitate the availability or provision of assistive technology devices and assistive technology services; and
increase awareness and knowledge of the benefits of assistive technology devices and assistive technology services among targeted individuals and entities and the general population; and
to provide States with financial assistance that supports programs designed to maximize the ability of individuals with disabilities and their family members, guardians, advocates, and authorized representatives to obtain assistive technology devices and assistive technology services.
(Pub. L. 105–394, § 2, Nov. 13, 1998, 112 Stat. 3628; Pub. L. 108–364, § 2, Oct. 25, 2004, 118 Stat. 1707.)