Assistive Technology Act of 1998

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    105TH UNITED STATES CONGRESS
    2ND SESSION


    An Act
    An act to support programs of grants to States to address the assistive technology needs of individuals with disabilities,
    and for other purposes.


    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

    Section 1. Short Title; Table of Contents.[edit]

    (a) SHORT TITLE—
    This Act may be cited as the ``Assistive Technology Act of 1998´´.
    (b) TABLE OF CONTENTS—
    The table of contents for this Act is as follows:
    Sec. 1. Short Title; Table of Contents.
    Sec. 2. Findings and Purposes.
    Sec. 3. Definitions and Rule.
    TITLE I — State Grant Programs
    Sec. 101. Continuity Grants for States that Received Funding for a Limited Period for Technology-Related Aassistance.
    Sec. 102. State Grants for Protection and Advocacy Related to Assistive Technology.
    Sec. 103. Administrative Provisions.
    Sec. 104. Technical Assistance Program.
    Sec. 105. Authorization of Appropriations.
    TITLE II — National Activities
    Subtitle A — Rehabilitation Act of 1973
    Sec. 201. Coordination of Federal Research Efforts.
    Sec. 202. National Council on Disability.
    Sec. 203. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board.
    Subtitle B — Other National Activities
    Sec. 211. Small Business Incentives.
    Sec. 212. Technology Transfer and Universal Design.
    Sec. 213. Universal Design in Products and the Built Environment.
    Sec. 214. Outreach.
    Sec. 215. Training Pertaining to Rehabilitation Engineers and Technicians.
    Sec. 216. President's Committee on Employment of People With Disabilities.
    Sec. 217. Authorization of Appropriations.
    TITLE III — Alternative Financing Mechanisms
    Sec. 301. General Authority.
    Sec. 302. Amount of Grants.
    Sec. 303. Applications and Procedures.
    Sec. 304. Contracts with Community-based Organizations.
    Sec. 305. Grant Administration Requirements.
    Sec. 306. Information and Technical Assistance.
    Sec. 307. Annual Report.
    Sec. 308. Authorization of Appropriations.
    TITLE IV — Repeal and Conforming Amendments
    Sec. 401. Repeal.
    Sec. 402. Conforming Amendments.

    Sec. 2. Findings and Purpose.[edit]

    (a) FINDINGS—
    Congress finds the following:
    (1) Disability is a natural part of the human experience and in no way diminishes the right of individuals to—
    (A) live independently;
    (B) enjoy self-determination and make choices;
    (C) benefit from an education;
    (D) pursue meaningful careers; and
    (E) enjoy full inclusion and integration in the economic, political, social, cultural, and educational mainstream of society in the United States.
    (2) Technology has become one of the primary engines for economic activity, education, and innovation in the Nation, and throughout the world. The commitment of the United States to the development and utilization of technology is one of the main factors underlying the strength and vibrancy of the economy of the United States.
    (3) As technology has come to play an increasingly important role in the lives of all persons in the United States, in the conduct of business, in the functioning of government, in the fostering of communication, in the conduct of commerce, and in the provision of education, its impact upon the lives of the more than 50,000,000 individuals with disabilities in the United States has been comparable to its impact upon the remainder of the citizens of the United States. Any development in mainstream technology would have profound implications for individuals with disabilities in the United States.
    (4) Substantial progress has been made in the development of assistive technology devices, including adaptations to existing devices that facilitate activities of daily living, that significantly benefit individuals with disabilities of all ages. Such devices and adaptations increase the involvement of such individuals in, and reduce expenditures associated with, programs and activities such as early intervention, education, rehabilitation and training, employment, residential living, independent living, and recreation programs and activities, and other aspects of daily living.
    (5) All States have comprehensive statewide programs of technology-related assistance. Federal support for such programs should continue, strengthening the capacity of each State to assist individuals with disabilities of all ages with their assistive technology needs.
    (6) Notwithstanding the efforts of such State programs, there is still a lack of—
    (A) resources to pay for assistive technology devices and assistive technology services;
    (B) trained personnel to assist individuals with disabilities to use such devices and services;
    (C) information among targeted individuals about the availability and potential benefit of technology for individuals with disabilities;
    (D) outreach to underrepresented populations and rural populations;
    (E) systems that ensure timely acquisition and delivery of assistive technology devices and assistive technology services;
    (F) coordination among State human services programs, and between such programs and private entities, particularly with respect to transitions between such programs and entities; and
    (G) capacity in such programs to provide the necessary technology-related assistance.
    (7) In the current technological environment, the line of demarcation between assistive technology and mainstream technology is becoming ever more difficult to draw.
    (8) Many individuals with disabilities cannot access existing telecommunications and information technologies and are at risk of not being able to access developing technologies. The failure of Federal and State governments, hardware manufacturers, software designers, information systems managers, and telecommunications service providers to account for the specific needs of individuals with disabilities in the design, manufacture, and procurement of telecommunications and information technologies results in the exclusion of such individuals from the use of telecommunications and information technologies and results in unnecessary costs associated with the retrofitting of devices and product systems.
    (9) There are insufficient incentives for Federal contractors and other manufacturers of technology to address the application of technology advances to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities of all ages for assistive technology devices and assistive technology services.
    (10) The use of universal design principles reduces the need for many specific kinds of assistive technology devices and assistive technology services by building in accommodations for individuals with disabilities before rather than after production. The use of universal design principles also increases the likelihood that products (including services) will be compatible with existing assistive technologies. These principles are increasingly important to enhance access to information technology, telecommunications, transportation, physical structures, and consumer products. There are insufficient incentives for commercial manufacturers to incorporate universal design principles into the design and manufacturing of technology products, including devices of daily living, that could expand their immediate use by individuals with disabilities of all ages.
    (11) There are insufficient incentives for commercial pursuit of the application of technology devices to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities, because of the perception that such individuals constitute a limited market.
    (12) At the Federal level, the Federal Laboratories, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and other similar entities do not recognize the value of, or commit resources on an ongoing basis to, technology transfer initiatives that would benefit, and especially increase the independence of, individuals with disabilities.
    (13) At the Federal level, there is a lack of coordination among agencies that provide or pay for the provision of assistive technology devices and assistive technology services. In addition, the Federal Government does not provide adequate assistance and information with respect to the quality and use of assistive technology devices and assistive technology services to targeted individuals.
    (14) There are changes in the delivery of assistive technology devices and assistive technology services, including—
    (A) the impact of the increased prevalence of managed care entities as payors for assistive technology devices and assistive technology services;
    (B) an increased focus on universal design;
    (C) the increased importance of assistive technology in employment, as more individuals with disabilities move from public assistance to work through training and on-the-job accommodations;
    (D) the role and impact that new technologies have on how individuals with disabilities will learn about, access, and participate in programs or services that will affect their lives; and
    (E) the increased role that telecommunications play in education, employment, health care, and social activities.
    (b) PURPOSES—
    The purposes of this Act are—
    (1) to provide financial assistance to States to undertake activities that assist each State in maintaining and strengthening a permanent comprehensive statewide program of technology-related assistance, for individuals with disabilities of all ages, that is designed to—
    (A) increase the availability of, funding for, access to, and provision of, assistive technology devices and assistive technology services;
    (B) increase the active involvement of individuals with disabilities and their family members, guardians, advocates, and authorized representatives, in the maintenance, improvement, and evaluation of such a program;
    (C) increase the involvement of individuals with disabilities and, if appropriate, their family members, guardians, advocates, and authorized representatives, in decisions related to the provision of assistive technology devices and assistive technology services;
    (D) increase the provision of outreach to underrepresented populations and rural populations, to enable the two populations to enjoy the benefits of activities carried out under this Act to the same extent as other populations;
    (E) increase and promote coordination among State agencies, between State and local agencies, among local agencies, and between State and local agencies and private entities (such as managed care providers), that are involved or are eligible to be involved in carrying out activities under this Act;
    (F)
    (i) increase the awareness of laws, regulations, policies, practices, procedures, and organizational structures, that facilitate the availability or provision of assistive technology devices and assistive technology services; and
    (ii) facilitate the change of laws, regulations, policies, practices, procedures, and organizational structures, to obtain increased availability or provision of assistive technology devices and assistive technology services;
    (G) increase the probability that individuals with disabilities of all ages will, to the extent appropriate, be able to secure and maintain possession of assistive technology devices as such individuals make the transition between services offered by human service agencies or between settings of daily living (for example, between home and work);
    (H) enhance the skills and competencies of individuals involved in providing assistive technology devices and assistive technology services;
    (I) increase awareness and knowledge of the benefits of assistive technology devices and assistive technology services among targeted individuals;
    (J) increase the awareness of the needs of individuals with disabilities of all ages for assistive technology devices and for assistive technology services; and
    (K) increase the capacity of public agencies and private entities to provide and pay for assistive technology devices and assistive technology services on a statewide basis for individuals with disabilities of all ages;
    (2) to identify Federal policies that facilitate payment for assistive technology devices and assistive technology services, to identify those Federal policies that impede such payment, and to eliminate inappropriate barriers to such payment; and
    (3) to enhance the ability of the Federal Government to—
    (A) provide States with financial assistance that supports—
    (i) information and public awareness programs relating to the provision of assistive technology devices and assistive technology services;
    (ii) improved interagency and public-private coordination, especially through new and improved policies, that result in increased availability of assistive technology devices and assistive technology services; and
    (iii) technical assistance and training in the provision or use of assistive technology devices and assistive technology services; and
    (B) fund national, regional, State, and local targeted initiatives that promote understanding of and access to assistive technology devices and assistive technology services for targeted individuals.


    Sec. 3. Definitions and Rule.[edit]

    (a) DEFINITIONS—
    In this Act:
    (1) ADVOCACY SERVICES—
    The term ``advocacy services´´, except as used as part of the term ``protection and advocacy services´´, means services provided to assist individuals with disabilities and their family members, guardians, advocates, and authorized representatives in accessing assistive technology devices and assistive technology services.
    (2) ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY—
    The term ``assistive technology´´ means technology designed to be utilized in an assistive technology device or assistive technology service.
    (3) ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY DEVICE—
    The term ``assistive technology device´´ means any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.
    (4) ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY SERVICE—
    The term ``assistive technology service´´ means any service that directly assists an individual with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device. Such term includes—
    (A) the evaluation of the assistive technology needs of an individual with a disability, including a functional evaluation of the impact of the provision of appropriate assistive technology and appropriate services to the individual in the customary environment of the individual;
    (B) services consisting of purchasing, leasing, or otherwise providing for the acquisition of assistive technology devices by individuals with disabilities;
    (C) services consisting of selecting, designing, fitting, customizing, adapting, applying, maintaining, repairing, or replacing assistive technology devices;
    (D) coordination and use of necessary therapies, interventions, or services with assistive technology devices, such as therapies, interventions, or services associated with education and rehabilitation plans and programs;
    (E) training or technical assistance for an individual with disabilities, or, where appropriate, the family members, guardians, advocates, or authorized representatives of such an individual; and
    (F) training or technical assistance for professionals (including individuals providing education and rehabilitation services), employers, or other individuals who provide services to, employ, or are otherwise substantially involved in the major life functions of individuals with disabilities.
    (5) CAPACITY BUILDING AND ADVOCACY ACTIVITIES—
    The term ``capacity building and advocacy activities´´ means efforts that—
    (A) result in laws, regulations, policies, practices, procedures, or organizational structures that promote consumer-responsive programs or entities; and
    (B) facilitate and increase access to, provision of, and funding for, assistive technology devices and assistive technology services,
    in order to empower individuals with disabilities to achieve greater independence, productivity, and integration and inclusion within the community and the workforce.
    (6) COMPREHENSIVE STATEWIDE PROGRAM OF TECHNOLOGY-RELATED ASSISTANCE—
    The term ``comprehensive statewide program of technology-related assistance´´ means a consumer-responsive program of technology-related assistance for individuals with disabilities, implemented by a State, and equally available to all individuals with disabilities residing in the State, regardless of their type of disability, age, income level, or location of residence in the State, or the type of assistive technology device or assistive technology service required.
    (7) CONSUMER-RESPONSIVE—
    The term ``consumer-responsive´´—
    (A) with regard to policies, means that the policies are consistent with the principles of—
    (i) respect for individual dignity, personal responsibility, self-determination, and pursuit of meaningful careers, based on informed choice, of individuals with disabilities;
    (ii) respect for the privacy, rights, and equal access (including the use of accessible formats) of such individuals;
    (iii) inclusion, integration, and full participation of such individuals in society;
    (iv) support for the involvement in decisions of a family member, a guardian, an advocate, or an authorized representative, if an individual with a disability requests, desires, or needs such involvement; and
    (v) support for individual and systems advocacy and community involvement; and
    (B) with respect to an entity, program, or activity, means that the entity, program, or activity—
    (i) is easily accessible to, and usable by, individuals with disabilities and, when appropriate, their family members, guardians, advocates, or authorized representatives;
    (ii) responds to the needs of individuals with disabilities in a timely and appropriate manner; and
    (iii) facilitates the full and meaningful participation of individuals with disabilities (including individuals from underrepresented populations and rural populations) and their family members, guardians, advocates, and authorized representatives, in—
    (I) decisions relating to the provision of assistive technology devices and assistive technology services to such individuals; and
    (II) decisions related to the maintenance, improvement, and evaluation of the comprehensive statewide program of technology-related assistance, including decisions that affect advocacy, capacity building, and capacity building and advocacy activities.
    (8) DISABILITY—
    The term ``disability´´ means a condition of an individual that is considered to be a disability or handicap for the purposes of any Federal law other than this Act or for the purposes of the law of the State in which the individual resides.
    (9) INDIVIDUAL WITH A DISABILITY; INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES—
    (A) INDIVIDUAL WITH A DISABILITY—
    The term ``individual with a disability´´ means any individual of any age, race, or ethnicity—
    (i) who has a disability; and
    (ii) who is or would be enabled by an assistive technology device or an assistive technology service to minimize deterioration in functioning, to maintain a level of functioning, or to achieve a greater level of functioning in any major life activity.
    (B) INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES—
    The term ``individuals with disabilities´´ means more than one individual with a disability.
    (10) INSTITUTION OF HIGHER EDUCATION—
    The term ``institution of higher education´´ has the meaning given such term in section 1201(a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1141(a)), and includes a community college receiving funding under the Tribally Controlled Community College Assistance Act of 1978 (25 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.).
    (11) PROTECTION AND ADVOCACY SERVICES—
    The term ``protection and advocacy services´´ means services that—
    (A) are described in part C of the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (42 U.S.C. 6041 et seq.), the Protection and Advocacy for Mentally Ill Individuals Act of 1986 (42 U.S.C. 10801 et seq.), or section 509 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; and
    (B) assist individuals with disabilities with respect to assistive technology devices and assistive technology services.
    (12) SECRETARY—
    The term ``Secretary´´ means the Secretary of Education.
    (13) STATE—
    (A) IN GENERAL—
    Except as provided in subparagraph (B) and section 302, the term ``State´´ means each of the several States of the United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
    (B) OUTLYING AREAS—
    In sections 101(c) and 102(b):
    (i) OUTLYING AREA—
    The term ``outlying area´´ means the United States Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
    (ii) STATE—
    The term ``State´´ does not include the United States Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
    (14) TARGETED INDIVIDUALS—
    The term ``targeted individuals´´ means—
    (A) individuals with disabilities of all ages and their family members, guardians, advocates, and authorized representatives;
    (B) individuals who work for public or private entities (including insurers or managed care providers), that have contact with individuals with disabilities;
    (C) educators and related services personnel;
    (D) technology experts (including engineers);
    (E) health and allied health professionals;
    (F) employers; and
    (G) other appropriate individuals and entities.
    (15) TECHNOLOGY-RELATED ASSISTANCE—
    The term ``technology-related assistance´´ means assistance provided through capacity building and advocacy activities that accomplish the purposes described in any of subparagraphs (A) through (K) of section 2(b)(1).
    (16) UNDERREPRESENTED POPULATION—
    The term ``underrepresented population´´ means a population that is typically underrepresented in service provision, and includes populations such as persons who have low-incidence disabilities, persons who are minorities, poor persons, persons with limited-English proficiency, older individuals, or persons from rural areas.
    (17) UNIVERSAL DESIGN—
    The term ``universal design´´ means a concept or philosophy for designing and delivering products and services that are usable by people with the widest possible range of functional capabilities, which include products and services that are directly usable (without requiring assistive technologies) and products and services that are made usable with assistive technologies.
    (b) REFERENCES—
    References in this Act to a provision of the Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals With Disabilities Act of 1988shall be considered to be references to such provision as in effect on the day before the date of enactment of this Act.


    Approved November 13, 1998.


    Legislative History[edit]

    • SENATE REPORTS:
      • No. 105-334 (Comm. on Labor and Human Resources).
    • CONGRESSIONAL RECORD, Vol. 144 (1998):
      • Oct. 5, considered and passed Senate.
      • Oct. 9, considered and passed House, amended.
      • Oct. 14, Senate concurred in House amendment.