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Assistive Technology NEWS

Fall 2013

In This Issue




 

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Buying Assistive Technology with an AzLAT Financial Loan - There is a Difference


We are often asked “how is the AzLAT program different from a regular bank?” The answer is that there are both some similarities and some differences between the two. 

The similarities are that, just like when applying for a loan from a traditional bank, the expectation is that the borrower will be able to repay the loan in a timely manner. To ensure this, the AzLAT Review Committee obtains the applicant's credit report, analyzes it and also verifies that the person has sufficient monthly income to pay back the loan.

However, our differences are what truly set us apart from more traditional banks:
  • We offer low interest rates. While subject to change, our rates are recurrently at prime rate.
  • We serve borrowers with limited incomes.
  • We have the flexibility to make loans for a range of technology that supports independence.
  • Our understanding of disability issues leads to more personalized service.
  • We provide in- house access to other assistive technology resources.
  • In those cases when we cannot approve a loan, we work hard to find alternative resources for applicants.
 The following stories describe how we operate and highlight our non-traditional, consumer friendly services. We consider these to be good examples of our uniqueness.

Recently AzLAT was asked if we would consider a loan for a new home air-conditioning system.  Our first reaction was "no"; after all, an air-conditioning unit is a mainstream home appliance, not an assistive technology product.  But as we learned more about the potential borrower, our perspective changed. The applicant was a middle-aged woman with a high level spinal cord injury living in her own home with caregiver assistance.  In addition to her quadriplegia which impaired her ability to regulate body temperature, she also had environmental illness (EI) that made her extremely sensitive/reactive to chemicals and electromagnetic fields. These disabilities caused her to be essentially homebound.

Her A/C unit was beyond repair and needed to be replaced at a cost of approximately $2600. Anyone who lives in the Arizona desert knows that the summer heat in Phoenix is brutal and air conditioning is not a luxury; but for this woman, a working A/C unit was a lifesaving necessity. A new unit would allow her to remain in her home at her established level of independence.  The AzLAT loan review committee considered her request as a home modification. Based on her income and credit history, the committee unanimously approved the loan for the air conditioner. The low interest rate of 3.25% and a three year repayment schedule made this loan affordable for her, even though her annual income was only slightly more than $14,000.

Our loan closing process requires that a Notary Public witness the borrower signature on several of the documents. For borrowers who live in Phoenix, this usually takes place at our office.  For borrowers who live in other regions of the state, we ask that they sign the paperwork in the presence of a local notary which eliminates the need to travel any significant distance. However in this situation, the borrower was unable to travel; in fact, on the day scheduled for the closing, she could not even get out of bed. To accommodate her situation, AzLAT staff along with a representative from Arizona MultiBank (our banking partner) made a “house call”.  The documents were signed, notarized and the check was presented to her - in her bedroom.

In addition to AzLAT, our SEED Loan Program provides loans for employment related purposes and can include loans for business equipment as well as for specific assistive technology. For example, an older adult with disabilities related to vision and epilepsy requested a $500 SEED loan to purchase specialized software that would allow her to properly format and submit screenplays for potential income through self-employment.  Since the technology she wanted was not assistive technology, but rather specific to a particular type of employment (screenwriting), this was considered appropriate for a SEED Loan. Although her income was very limited, her application did meet our lending criteria and the loan was approved.
 
There are situations where the Loan Review Committee does not approve a loan application. In those circumstances, we will continue to work with the applicant to identify other resources when possible..  This is what took place after receiving an application from an individual who wanted to provide temporary health care services for organizations that had short term vacancy needs. At the time of the application, the gentleman did not have a computer; everything was hand written and he was using the library for time-limited Internet searches related to his proposed business plan. Unfortunately, the loan review committee was unable to approve his application for financial reasons.  However, we were able to support him in other ways. The most significant of which was to provide him with a free, older, but still useable laptop computer through AzTAP’s long term equipment loan program.  We advised him that we could reconsider a new application if he had a co-borrower with good credit; and, finally we also directed him to other agencies that could help him strengthen his business plan.

Hold The Date - Assistive Technology Conference  

Mark your calendars! The 16th  Annual Assistive Technology Summer Institute will take place July 21 – 22, 2014 at the Arizona Grand Resort and Spa in Phoenix.  This year’s theme is “Assistive Technology: Multiple Perspectives, Multiple Solutions”. Our featured speakers - Haben Girma and Carolyn Phillips – were selected because their experiences and connections to assistive technology truly capture the diversity in AT needs, products and how they are used to support real life success.
We are pleased to be able to offer the same economical early bird registration rate of $165 for the full two day conference and that the room rates also remain at $89 per night.  Keep in mind that the Arizona Grand Resort & Spa has a wonderful on site Water Park – rated as one of the best “for those seeking the most variety and biggest thrills” by azcentral’s Best of 2013.
New this year: we are expanding the exhibit hall hours for greater consumer and family member participation. 
For more conference information, or for the Call for Papers which will be posted shortly, visit the AzTAP website at www.aztap.org .

Sprucing Up the Office          
 

After a lot of planning, moving of equipment and living with construction dust, the AzTAP office has new carpet, fresh paint, new ceiling tiles and an updated heating/cooling system! Schedule an appointment, come in and enjoy a cup of hot cocoa in our refreshed reception area. To make an appointment, contact Adi Kalika at 602-728-9534 or email her at adi.kalika@nau.edu. 

Holiday Greetings

The cooler weather and upcoming holidays make this a very enjoyable time of the year here in Phoenix.  No matter what holiday you are celebrating, the AzTAP staff wishes you happy holidays and a season filled with holiday cheer!
 

Office Closures:

The Aztap office will be closed:
  • Thanksgiving: November 28th & 29th
  • Winter Holidays: December 25th through January 1st
 

New in the AzTAP Equipment Inventory

AzTAP was recently able to purchase a significant number of new devices to keep our inventory current.  Three of them are featured below.  They are available for demonstration and short term loan.

The ClearSounds iConnect A6BT Bluetooth Amplified Cordless Phone

- The A6BT offers remarkable sound quality and clarity associated with ClearSounds telephones, along with the effectiveness of Bluetooth capabilities in the handset. It is designed to easily pair with your Bluetooth enabled headset, streamer or neckloop or Bluetooth enabled/capable hearing aids.  AzTAP inventory # 51941
 

InVoTek’s Supplemented Speech Recognition or SSR software 

        


 - SSR is specifically created for people who cannot use other systems. This product is designed to allow voice recognition for people with dysarthria (i.e., difficult to understand speech). InVoTek’s SSR does this by tightly integrating word prediction and speech recognition to significantly reduce the amount of typing required to enter text. AzTAP inventory # 51969
 

The Forte from Writer Learning Systems




 - The Forte is a writing support tool that combines all of the great writing support features of text to speech, word prediction, keyboard instruction, spelling assistance, math assistance and a calendar application.  The Forte is designed for struggling writers with Dysgraphia, Dyslexia, poor spelling skills, reading and decoding issues, ADD/ADHD & ASD.  The Forte has a long battery life and has a high contrast display.  AzTAP inventory # 51954

Information about all of our devices is available online. To view our inventory, please use the following link: http://www.azatdemoloanprogram.org/search_inventory.php

The Training Calendar

In addition our face to face trainings, AzTAP now has the capability to provide webinar-based educational programs and trainings that can be viewed anywhere.  It’s easy to participate via the AdobeConnect system; all you need is an internet or WiFi connection and a computer, tablet (IOS or Android) or a smart phone!
 
AzTAP, along with the IHD Assistive Technology Center has developed a series of one hour webinars on a range of AT topics. For a complete listing and description of the sessions, go to our website http://aztap.org/at-education/trainings/ and look under the AzTAP & IHD AT Center Webinars tab. When you register, you will receive login and connection instructions.

We still offer face-to-face trainings in our office as well as provide trainings outside of Maricopa County, but we need your input!  If your group is interested, please let us know about your program and what type of AT training you would like to attend.  Choices include, but are not limited to training about the AzTAP program and how to use our online services, popular new products or AT for specific categories, such as AT for Vision or AT for hearing.  Send an email to askaztap@nau.edu or call 800-477-9921 to explore options.
 
Please register on-line at http://aztap.org/at-education/trainings/ for both our in person and our webinar training sessions.

New Faces at AzTAP

AzTAP is pleased to introduce two new staff members:

Adi Kalika - The smiling face and welcoming voice that greets you when you visit or call the AzTAP office belongs to Adi Kalika. Adi began work at AzTAP last January as a part-time, temporary employee.  She is now working 32 hours/week as our new AT Program Assistant. Adi has an MBA in Marketing and Finance and in addition to her front office responsibilities; Adi is developing marketing strategies to help us get the word out about AzTAP. She is also our go-to person for our Facebook and Twitter posts.


Laura Wooten-LaFranier – Laura is the newest addition to the AzTAP team.  She will be working 16 hours/week assisting Clayton and Mellowdee with the AT inventory, device loans and demonstrations.  Laura has a Master’s Degree in Special Education and more than 10 years teaching experience as a Middle School Language Arts teacher.  She hopes to eventually become an Assistive Technology Specialist.

Copyright © 2013 Arizona Technology Access Program, All rights reserved.


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2400 N Central Avenue, Suite 300, Pheonix, AZ 85004
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