the advocacy monitor

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


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…]

Pew Research Center Report: Disabled Americans Are Less Likely to Use Technology

On April 7, Pew Research Center published a new report and analysis for their Fact Tank entitled “Disabled Americans Are Less Likely to Use Technology.” Read the report.

ACL/NIDILRR’s Small Business Innovation Research Program to Fund Ideas for Innovative Technology

Do you have an idea for innovative technology that can improve lives of people with disabilities? NIDILRR’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program can help.

This year, NIDILRR’s SBIR program will fund up to ten Phase I feasibility (or proof-of-concept) projects for approximately six months (for up to $100,000 each). After completion of the Phase I stage, most of these businesses can compete for Phase II awards. Phase II awards can last up to 24 months for a total of up to $575,000.

NIDILRR’s SBIR program is unique among SBIR programs in that it focuses solely on the development of knowledge, products and services that benefit the lives of people with disabilities.  The purpose of the broader SBIR program is to: stimulate technological innovation; increase small business participation in federal research and development; foster and encourage participation by minority and disadvantaged persons in technological innovation; and increase private sector commercialization of technology derived from federal research and development.  [Read more…]

Are You Passionate About Accessibility? Google Wants Your Feedback!

Greetings from the Accessibility Engineering Team here at Google! As part of our efforts to make Google products more accessible, we conduct research sessions with users with all types of disabilities. So far this year, we’ve conducted research sessions with users in the blind / low vision, deaf / hard of hearing and motor and cognitive impairment communities. Take a look at some of our current projects!

Feedback gathered during these sessions is invaluable in making Google products more accessible for everyone.

We conduct studies both in-person as well as remotely via video or phone. Selected participants will receive a thank you gift for their time in the form of a prepaid Visa gift card, or from a selection of brands including AMC, Cheesecake Factory, iTunes, Sephora, Toys ‘R Us and more.

Anyone with a disability / impairment who would like to take part in a study testing our products can sign up online. Once you have signed up you will be notified of upcoming research studies that are a match for your unique user profile. Feel free to forward this email to anyone with a disability who you feel may be interested!

Why not get your friends or family involved? Anyone without a disability who is also interested in taking part in our research can sign up online!

For any questions or concerns regarding our user research program contact:

FAQ for the Alternative Financing Program Discretionary Grant Competition

A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document (PDF) is now available for the AFP Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), which closes June 6th.

You can also download a recording and transcript of the AFP FOA conference.

  • Title: Assistive Technology Alternative Financing Program
  • Agency: Administration for Community Living (ACL)
  • Center: Center for Integrated Programs (CIP)
  • Funding Opportunity Number: HHS-2016-ACL-CIP-ATTF-0164

[Read more…]

NCIL Presents… A National Teleconference – RESNA Catalyst Project: Providing Assistive Technology Support and Technical Assistance

NCIL Presents… A National Teleconference:

Wednesday, April 27, 2016; 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. Eastern

Register online.

Join us on April 27th for an introduction to RESNA’s Catalyst Project, including an overview of Statewide Assistive Technology Programs and Alternative Financing Programs. If you are new to Independent Living or assistive technology, this presentation will be a great place to learn how you and your consumers can access, try out, and even pay for assistive technology to live independently in the community.

Registration Fee: This teleconference is free for NCIL Members. There is a $25.00 registration fee for Non-Members, per call-in site. Fee does not apply per participant in group, provided the group uses the same conference line.

Meet Your Presenters

Jason M. Luciano, Ph.D. received his BS in American Sign Language Interpreting and then his MA and PhD in Clinical Psychology from Gallaudet University, the world’s premiere university for the deaf. He did post graduate work at Boston University’s Center for Multicultural Training in Psychology as well as Harvard Medical School. Currently he is a Deputy Director for the RESNA Catalyst Project, the national activity providing technical assistance for the federally funded AT Act programs. Previously he created and managed one of these programs: the Massachusetts Assistive Technology Loan Program AFP and has a long history of non-profit and human service organization creation, support, and management. Throughout these periods Dr. Luciano has also maintained a private clinical practice focusing on people with disabilities and has been published in the fields of disability, communication, and mental health.

Paul Galonsky, MPA is a Project Coordinator with the RESNA Catalyst Project, where he provides Assistive Technology (AT) technical assistance to Statewide and U.S. Territory AT Programs funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Rehabilitation Services Administration under the Assistive Technology Act of 1998, as amended. Paul provides technical assistance related to systemic and state-specific improvements and changes in practice in the activities conducted under the AT Act, increased collaboration among entities funded under the AT Act and other stakeholders, and improved identification and dissemination of AT-related knowledge. Prior to Paul’s current position with RESNA, he was the 2010 Disability Policy Leadership Fellow at the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD), where his contributions included participating with the AUCD Legislative Affairs Department. Paul received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from the University of South Florida and a Master of Public Administration degree from the School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Delaware. You can read his published graduate dissertation on Disability Health Policy in Delaware online (PDF).

The event will be available via teleconference and CART (captioned) webcast. You must register by 12:00 Noon Eastern on April 27 to participate in the call.

Please contact Tim Fuchs at with any questions.

Ability Tools Reuse Conference

June 20-21, 2016; Sacramento Convention Center (Sacramento, CA)

The Ability Tools Reuse Conference will take place June 20-21, 2016 in Sacramento, California. This exciting conference will bring together people from around the country interested in the reuse of assistive technology and durable medical equipment.

Not sure if you should attend? If your organization:

  • Distributes used wheelchairs, walkers, hospital beds and other medical equipment to the community;
  • Operates a medical device and equipment Loan Closet or Device Library;
  • Takes in donations of assistive technology / durable medical equipment;
  • Wants to start a reuse program.

Call for Presenters: Do you have expertise in an area of assistive technology or durable medical equipment reuse? Are you interested in sharing your knowledge at the Ability Tools Reuse Conference?

Please consider submitting a brief workshop proposal. Multiple presenters and panel presentations are welcome. CFILC will contact all workshop proposers by Friday, April 22nd. Successful proposers will receive information regarding next steps. Please remember that each presenter needs to register for the conference individually. Workshop proposals are due by Friday, April 8th, 2016.

More information:

ADA Internet Regulations – Please Sign the Petition!

The National Federation of the Blind has launched a petition demanding that the Obama administration issue a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) addressing the obligation of public accommodations to provide websites that are accessible to individuals with disabilities conformant to Title III of the ADA. The release date of the actual rule proposal for revising the Title III regulations of the ADA, originally scheduled for January of 2012, has been extended until sometime in 2018, eight years beyond the issuance of the original Advanced notice of Proposed Rule Making (ANPRM) and at least a year after the end of his administration.

Because this is a “we the people” petition, upon reaching 100,000 signatures, the Obama administration is required to respond. As people with disabilities, we know first-hand that equal access to the internet is paramount for education, to obtain and retain employment, and for everyday tasks such as paying bills, online shopping, booking travel, and the list goes on and on.

Please sign the petition and share it with your networks!

NCIL Applauds Congressional Hearings on Spectrum

NCIL applauds the recent Congressional efforts to address the nation’s pressing spectrum needs. With yesterday’s two hearings, “Removing Barriers to Wireless Broadband Deployment” and “Improving Federal Spectrum Systems” our nation’s leaders took one step closer towards finding a beneficial solution to meet the growing demand for faster, more efficient wireless networks.

These hearings could not have occurred at a better time as recent studies (PDF) indicate that wireless usage is growing off the charts. According to wireless industry group CTIA, the number of active smartphones in the U.S. increased from 50 million in 2009 to over 200 million in 2014. In this same timeframe, average monthly traffic skyrocketed from only 76 MB/month in 2009 to over 1.8 GB/month. With this rapid increase in mobile devices and data consumption, our wireless spectrum is on a one way path to permanent bottleneck. This means unresponsive networks moving at terribly slow speeds.

NCIL believes that in our growing mobile society, the best way to ensure our communities keep pace is to increase the amount of spectrum available.

Just last month, the Wireless RERC’s research team announced their Survey of User Needs (SUN) for Wireless Technologies to measure accessible mobile use. As the only national source of comprehensive information and insight into the wireless technology needs of people with disabilities, SUN data is used by all of the wireless decision makers – wireless industry, regulatory agencies, advocacy organizations and other researchers – to inform much needed policy changes in areas just like this.

Data gathered from this survey will only increase the calls for more spectrum.

Increasing the amount of spectrum available for commercial and unlicensed use will have profound benefits for people with disabilities and the entire Independent Living Movement. More spectrum means faster connectivity with health monitoring, increased availability to accessible smartphones, and rapid growth potential for practical applications like telemedicine. Spectrum has the ability to empower those across the country looking to tap into the burgeoning “Internet of Things” as well. With increased wireless connectivity, those with disabilities will be able to take part in the move to automated household appliances and tech wearables.

People with disabilities across the nation benefit significantly from access to robust wireless networks. NCIL thanks Congress for holding yesterday’s hearings and encourages the reallocation of spectrum for commercial and innovative use so people with disabilities can live, work, and connect like never before.

New Survey of User Needs for Wireless Technology – Please Participate!

The Wireless RERC’s research team is pleased to announce the launch of the 2015 Survey of User Needs (SUN) for Wireless Technologies. The SUN is our cornerstone survey of wireless technology use and usability by people with all types of disabilities. The survey mainly focuses on cellphones, but also includes questions about other types of devices like tablet computers such as an Apple iPad, Amazon Kindle Fire, Microsoft Surface, Samsung Galaxy Tab and other similar devices.

First launched in 2002, the SUN is the only national source of comprehensive information and insight into the wireless technology needs of people with disabilities. SUN data are used by the wireless industry, regulatory agencies, advocacy organizations and other researchers to inform their work. Over the years, more than 6000 people with disabilities have completed the SUN, and more than half have joined our national Consumer Advisory Network (CAN).

Please consider participating in the Survey of User Needs. You can participate on the web, on the phone, or we can send you a paper copy with a postage paid return envelope.

To complete the survey over the phone or to request a paper copy with a stamped return envelope, please contact John Morris at: or 404-367-1348.