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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living


FCC Announces Emergency Broadband Benefit Start Date

Yesterday the FCC announced that eligible households can begin applying for the Emergency Broadband Benefit on May 12, 2021. Read the announcement (PDF)

The Emergency Broadband Program will provide a monthly discount toward broadband service for eligible households and one-time discounts for the purchase of certain devices from participating providers. The COVID-19 package passed in December required the FCC to develop this program to help struggling households pay for internet service during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

[Read more…]

FCC Seeks Outreach Partners for Emergency Broadband Benefit

As a result of the COVID-19 relief package passed in December, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is developing a program to provide relief to households struggling to pay for internet service during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program is called the Emergency Broadband Benefit, and will provide a monthly discount toward broadband service for eligible households and one-time discounts for the purchase of certain devices from participating providers.

The FCC has a new website with information about the program at As the program is developed, the website will continue to be updated with the latest resources and information on the Emergency Broadband Benefit. As part of the effort to inform people about this new benefit, the FCC is looking for stakeholders to sign up to promote the program. If you and your organization are interested, you can sign up to become an Outreach Partner on the website.

Last week, Acting Chairwoman Rosenworcel convened a virtual roundtable discussion to gather input on how to structure the new Emergency Broadband program. View information about that roundtable.

If you would like more information about the Emergency Broadband Program, you can contact the FCC at or visit For those who use American Sign Language, you may call the FCC Consumer ASL Line at 844-432-2275. 

Register Today: Making AT for All Conference and Expo

  • September 24 to 25, 2019
  • Monroeville Convention Center; Monroeville, PA
  • Register online at

Keynote Presentation: “Making AT Around the Country” By Brady Fulton, AT Nomad

Nationally renowned expert Brady Fulton will talk about the potential for making custom assistive technology across the United States.

[Read more…]

Call for Presentations: Second Annual Assistive Technology Makers’ Fair

The call for presenters at the second national Assistive Technology (AT) Makers’ Fair Conference and Expo is now open.

To find out more about this event and to submit your presentation, please visit or read more about the event in our recent article by John Flaherty, Assistive Technology Specialist at Transitional Paths to Independent Living (TRPIL). You can also see examples of presenters who participated last year.

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TRPIL to Host Second Annual Assistive Technology Makers’ Fair September 24-25 in Monroeville, PA!

By John Flaherty, Assistive Technology Specialist, Transitional Paths to Independent Living (TRPIL)

This coming September 24-25, Transitional Paths to Independent Living (TRPIL) is hosting the second national Assistive Technology (AT) Makers’ Fair: Making AT for All Conference & Expo in Monroeville, Pennsylvania.

TRPIL serves Washington, Fayette and Greene counties in Pennsylvania. We are also the home of the Assistive Technology Resource Center as part of the state AT Act program in Pennsylvania (TechOwl), which has the stated goals of providing public awareness, access, outreach and technical service / training activities. I also work with Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation (PATF) to provide information about financing options for assistive technology. Additionally, I’ve been a member of the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA) for several years.

The staff at TRPIL and I are working with local, state and national partners to bring this event to the Pittsburgh area, but we need your help. If you would be willing to share this information it would be greatly appreciated. You can see some of what we did at last year’s event on the Facebook page, and you can register at The call for presentations is now open, and we can’t wait to see the latest innovations!

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2019 Assistive Technology Makers’ Fair AT Invention Contest

Makers Making Dreams Come True

Attention all tinkerers, inventors, and creators of contraptions, gizmos, and gadgets! Come share your ideas and show off your prototypes!

Makers are changing the world and giving individuals with disabilities the tools they need to stay or grow more independent. Come exhibit your invention at the Assistive Technology Invention Contest during the AT Makers’ Fair and compete to be the 2019 AT Maker of the Year. Fair attendees will vote on the inventions, and the top three makers will be awarded prizes. All levels of experience are welcome.

Register today! Visit

Assistive Technology for the Future: An Update from the NCIL Assistive Technology Subcommittee

Every day, we hear about new assistive technology (AT) that can help us do almost magical things – from being able to hear or see when we couldn’t before, communicate with our friends when we couldn’t speak or write before, enjoy new recreational activities when we couldn’t use our arms or legs before, or control our environment when all we could control was our voice before. These devices are “cool” and many of us want them.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingHow can you find out about these devices? All states and territories have a state AT program. These programs are charged with telling the residents in their state about AT devices by providing demonstrations, equipment lending libraries, and reuse programs. After you figure out what AT devices you want, the state AT program may be able to help you find a way to pay for them. The Program should also refer you to your state’s Alternative Financing Program (AFP). Many states have an AFP – a program that provides low-interest or no-interest loans for people with disabilities and their families for the purchase of assistive technology.  [Read more…]

The Maker’s Movement: An Update from the NCIL Assistive Technology Subcommittee

Does anyone know someone who has assistive technology that is sitting in a closet, not being used? Is there something uncomfortable about a device? Does it not work as expected? Do you know someone who needs assistive technology but cannot afford the cost? The Maker’s Movement may be the answer to some of these concerns.

Many library districts and colleges sponsor “Maker’s Events” where a person can request assistance to design assistive technology that can help a person to complete tasks more comfortably and efficiently. There may be a “make-a-thon” event in your community. To find more information go to:

This new trend is a result of the Do-It-Yourself movement and advances made in miniaturizing inexpensive electronic devices. People have long been frustrated with the high cost of assistive technology and the limits on custom fitting items to accommodate specific situations. Advances and information sharing are moving access to affordable assistive technology forward; and it may even be possible to print 3D prosthetics.

More Information

EIN SOF Recruiting Electronics Users with Disabilities for Focus Groups in San Francisco and DC

EIN SOF is recruiting electronics users with disabilities for eight disability-specific focus groups in:

  • San Francisco, CA – Sunday, December 3 (1:00-8:00 p.m.) and Monday, December 4 (2:00-9:00 p.m.)
  • Washington, DC – Wednesday, December 6 and Thursday, December 7 (2:00-9:00 p.m.)

If you or someone you know might be interested in being considered and is available on the above dates, please email Tari Hartman Squire at with the Subject Line: “SF Focus Group” or “DC Focus Group”.

Specifically, they are looking for electronics users with disabilities in the following categories:

  • Deaf
  • Hard of Hearing
  • Blind
  • Low Vision
  • Mobility Disability
  • Limited Dexterity
  • Autistic
  • Parent of Child with Autism

An Update from the NCIL Assistive Technology Subcommittee

Today, there are high tech devices everywhere that are helping people to stay connected, be more independent and experience a higher quality of life. There are also resources that can help people afford the purchase of assistive technology (AT) including items such as home or vehicle modifications, hearing aids, computers, scooters, smart phones and even adaptive sports equipment.

People benefit from learning about a full range of resources and funding options that can help meet their needs. A person’s need for assistive technology is an opportunity for opening dialogue around their choice of AT and how to afford what best meets their needs. Are there ways for the person to increase their income through employment opportunities or to change their spending or increase their savings? Is there funding that will provide AT for employment? Are there work supports that can help a person earn and save money towards their purchase?  [Read more…]