Skip to main content

Happy National AT Awareness Day

By eanderson

April 17, 2024

A little girl smiles and clasps her hands while seated on a two-seater tricycle.

Today is the day set aside to raise awareness about assistive technology (AT). Help us spread the word! REquipment welcomes donations of gently used AT and provides refurbished AT for free in our online inventory.four device examples of assistive technology

We began including AT last fall and ever since, we have been sharing available devices and successes on our Facebook page, blog, and newsletter.

What we haven’t done is explain how we fit into the bigger picture of Massachusetts AT services …

MassMATCH — The Massachusetts AT Program

Thanks to the federal AT Act of 2004, every state and territory has an AT program. REquipment is part of MassMATCH, a network of AT services within Massachusetts that make up the Massachusetts AT Program. MassMATCH helps Massachusetts residents learn about, try out, and acquire AT devices.

Trying out equipment is important because, with assistive technology, there is no one-size-fits-all. A weighted eating utensil might be terrific for eating with your essential tremor but a total failure for your father with Parkinson’s. You might mount soap dispensers in your parents’ shower to reduce tripping hazards, only to find your parents can’t operate the buttons. And there’s no question that a communication device must be carefully customized for the user’s abilities, environments, wants, and needs. AT is about finding what works and is satisfying to the user.

Here’s how to get hands-on and find what works for you.

two women smiling looking at each other at an office table

See and Try Devices at Your AT Regional Center

Your AT Regional Center is a great place to try out a range of assistive technology and borrow devices for up to four weeks at a time. In Massachusetts, AT Regional Centers are operated by Easterseals and UCP of Western Massachusetts. They share an online inventory of loaner equipment that is separate from REquipment’s inventory of free donated equipment.

Visit your AT Regional Center to check out the latest AT for use at home, work, school, and in the community. Anyone with an interest may borrow a device at no charge. Find your closest AT Regional Center and call them to discuss what you are interested in exploring. You can also just show up, but they prefer knowing when you’re coming so they can get equipment ready to show you when you come.

Search AT Inventories Available to Massachusetts Residents

Do you already know what you need? Look for it in REquipment’s online inventory. Our program expanded this fall to include devices in categories such as Aids for Daily Living, Hearing, Vision, Communication Devices, Speech Amplification, and Adaptive Computer Devices.

If you think you know what you want but haven’t tried the device before, search the MassMATCH short-term loan program inventory. Borrow a device to determine if it works for you or to fill a short-term need.

Want it for the long haul? The Long Term Device Loan Program may be able to help. Administered by Easterseals, this program provides devices valued under $500 to individuals with disabilities who meet income guidelines. Devices may be kept for as long as the user needs them. The program prioritizes devices necessary to meet physical health and safety needs, improve independence, or serve as a primary means of communication. The AT must be reusable and may not be customized. Learn about the Long Term Device Loan Program.

Get Help With Purchasing AT

Need help buying a device?  Check out the AT Mini Loan administered by Easterseals. The Mini Loan provides zero-percent interest loans of $500 to $2,000 for the purchase of assistive technology products and services. This can be a way to afford computers, hearing aids, dentures, communication tools, vehicle modifications, etc. You may qualify even if you have no credit history or a lower-than-average credit score. This program can help young adults with disabilities build a credit history as they buy what they need. Learn more about the AT Mini Loan.

Does the AT you want cost over $2,000? An AT Financial Loan can provide low-interest loans for the purchase of assistive technology products and services with a cost of over $2,000. The AT Financial Loan program is commonly used for vehicle modifications, but it is not restricted to this purpose. Is there adapted recreation equipment you want? A more expensive hearing aid? Easterseals has an easy-to-use loan calculator on its website, so you can consider what you can afford. Find it and learn more about the AT Financial Loan.

Help REquipment Keep its Funding

MassMATCH programs are partially funded by the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) and the Administration of Community Living of the US Department of Health and Human Services (through the AT Act).

However, most REquipment’s funding comes from the Massachusetts legislature, funneled through MRC.

Do you love our mission to provide free, gently used, durable home medical equipment and assistive technology statewide? Let your state representative know. The Governor’s budget for FY25 is missing $500K in funding. Follow us on Facebook for budget season updates

Contact your state representatives. Raise awareness about how important REquipment is to you!