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 AT Pro
gram News
  News for and from the State AT Act
  Programs, the Alternative Financing Programs,
  and their community partners

                            January/February 2010
In This Issue
Success! The incredible true-life adventure of one state AT Advisory Council member and his ATIA video contest victory
Field News: Fred Tchang on How to Choose an Equipment Loan Database
Hot Resource: Strategies for Rural Outreach
Did You Know? IPAT Shipping Partnership Helps Rural Residents
Tool Box: Augmentative and Alternative Communication Mobile Demo Inventory
Did You Know? Georgia AFP Helps Ensure People with Disabilities File for their Earned Income Tax Credit
Partnerships for Video Clips: How Peter G. is Teaming Up with MassMATCH
Ask the Expert: Spreadsheet or Database?
Nifty Products (one is FREE): TapToTalk and the NDS Talker
Success! The incredible true life adventure of one state AT Advisory Council member and his ATIA video contest victory
For Peter G., assistive technology offers people with disabilities a game-winning Hail Mary pass; the problem is that more people need the chance to get in that end zone
ATIA 2010 Orlando: Showcasing Excellence in Assistive TechnologyIn 1988, Peter G. became disabled and had to withdraw from Bates College six weeks before his expected graduation. For the next eleven years, homebound and in bed, Pete relied on his parents for most of his needs, and experienced profound social isolation. As an avid sports fan, he said, "It felt like the game was over."
That was before he learned about assistive technology.
This past October, Pete won the AT Industry Association's AT video YouTube contest. His video, "My Assistive Technology (AT) Success Story," includes a reference to Doug Flutie throwing a Hail Mary pass from the 48 yard line. "This game is over," declares the announcer, before erupting, astonished, at Boston College's unexpected win. That moment, Pete explained in a recent phone interview... Click here for the rest of Pete's story

Have a success story you wish you had time to write? ATPN can draft a profile that your program's newsletter can use too. Contact ATPN and put "story idea" in the subject line.
Field News: Fred Tchang on How to Choose An Equipment Loan Database

Looking for a better way to track equipment?
Advancing Opportunities in New Jersey has recently completed a review of database options for its short-term device loan program. Here Fred Tchang, director of assistive technology services, draws on that experience to provide advice for how to go about making the right decision for your program.

At Advancing Opportunities, our Photo of Fred Tchangstatewide Technology Lending Center had been using a database that was 10 years old, designed using an older version of Microsoft Access.  We knew that we needed a new database to help us work more efficiently and effectively, and didn't want to design one from scratch. In the course of reviewing database options, we created a website wiki to record and share what we'd learned about the products used by different state programs (see this equipment loan database wiki page). What the website doesn't provide, however, is the subject of this article: the process we used to consider our options.

Consider the SETT Framework

I was amazed at the diversity of database solutions, each designed to meet different needs.  I can truly say that there is no one best solution (don't we always say that?) To find one that's right for your program... Click here to read the rest from Fred Tchang

Have an idea for an article you'd like to contribute? ATPN can provide editing support. Contact ATPN
Hot Resource: Strategies for Rural Outreach

National Assistive Technology Technical Assistance Partnership logo

The National Assistive Technology Technical Assist
ance Partnership (NATTAP) website has posted Strategies for Rural Outreach, a technical assistance publication that highlights how the Texas, Tennessee, Montana, and Mississippi AT Act Programs are working to provide statewide AT services.

The paper (written by ATPN Editor Eliza Anderson) summarizes rural outreach strategies gleaned from two NATTAP teleconferences and from subsequent phone interviews.

The strategies include:

-Regional AT Access  Centers;

-Mobile Access Units;

-Monthly Regional Outreach Events;

-Distance Technology

Following these summaries are steps that states can take to create the rural outreach strategy that makes the most sense for their communities, assets, and resources. The paper's appendices include a host of resources for programs including sample portable AT access center inventories, a sample letter of agreement for regional center partners, and a list of community and national organization types for states to consider for partnerships. Click here to download Strategies for Rural Outreach from NATTAP (rtf).
Did You Know?: IPAT Shipping Partnership Helps Rural Residents

ATIA 2010 Orlando: Showcasing Excellence in Assistive TechnologyNorth Dakota IPAT highlights a unique public/private partnership for rural outreach in their December 2009 AT Key. The partnership is providing low cost transportation of used AT and durable medical equipment (DME) to residents of North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota.

The partnership is with CrossCountry Courier, a freight carrier based in Bismarck ND. CrossCountry Courier has generously volunteered... Click here to read about IPAT's shipping partnership
Tool Box: Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Mobile Demonstration Inventory

ATIA 2010 Orlando: Showcasing Excellence in Assistive TechnologyBelow is a listing of AT for augmentative and alternative communication demonstrations provided by the Signal Centers in southeastern TN.

Signal is a TN TAP partner that runs AT Regional Centers and carries devices for demos to homes and workplaces as needed. The Signal Centers have created portable units tailored to different disabilities. Click here for the AAC inventory...

This and other portable AT inventory recommendations are provided in Strategies for Rural Outreach.
image of tax formsDid You Know?
Georgia's AFP H
elps Ensure People with Disabilities File for their Earned Income Tax Credit

Each year many people with disabilities miss the opportunity to collect their Earned Income Tax Credit because they don't file a federal income tax return or they fail to apply for appropriate tax credits. Credit-Able, the Georgia alternative financing program (AFP), is administered by the Center for Financial Independence & Innovation, Inc. (CFII) which also runs an IRS sponsored Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program. Together these programs are helping eligible Georgians with disabilities file their tax returns and better afford assistive technology.
Click here to read more about Credit-Able and VITA...
Disclaimer: AT Program News makes no endorsement, representation, or warranty expressed or implied for any product, device, or information set forth in this newsletter. AT Program News has not examined, reviewed, or tested any product or device referred to in this electronic newsletter or at
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Partnerships for Video Clips: how Peter G. is teaming up with MassMATCH

YouTube logo with the words, "broadcast yourself."

Peter G. joined the MassMATCH AT Advisory Council in January, 2009 to help raise awareness of the power of AT for people with disabilities. He is now active with a council subcommittee interested in embedding, and in some cases developing, fully accessible video clips to and for the MassMATCH website.

The subcommittee is partnering with professors and student interns of the Northeastern University Physical Therapy Department... Click here to read the rest of Partnerships for Video Clips
Ask the Expert:
Spreadsheet or Database?

Graphic of a man at his desk throwing papers with graphs over his head

Dear Expert:

What are the advantages of a database over a simple spreadsheet?  When is it time to upgrade to a database? 

-Considering a Change

Dear Considering:

According to Fred Tchang, you should consider an upgrade to a database if you are encountering one or more of the following: 

-You are using several spreadsheets to track related information in different ways.

-You have hundreds of records or more and need to search through them often.

-Several people, perhaps in different locations, need to change or edit a spreadsheet at the same time.

-You want an online way to collect and consolidate data with an option to generate reports.

Click here for a screencast (video) that gives the basic differences between a spreadsheet and a database.

Fred Tchang, ATP, is the Director of Assistive Technology Services at Advancing Opportunities, a non-profit serving people of all disabilities throughout the state of New Jersey.
Want to Ask the Expert? ATPN will ask for you (who the expert is depends on the question you pose). To Ask the Expert, contact ATPN and put "Expert" in the subject line. All questions are posed anonymously from start to finish.
Nifty Products (one is FREE); TapToTalk and the NDS Talker

Image of Nintendo DS as TapToTalk

TapToTalk turns the popular Nintendo DSi and DS Lite portable game consoles into augmentative and alternative communication devices. By tapping a picture on the screen, the TapToTalk "speaks" with a pre-recorded sound or voice.

Parents subscribe to TapToTalk for $99.95 a year which provides... Click here to read more about adapting the Nintendo DS 
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