The Virginia Assistive Technology System (VATS) is a statewide program authorized and funded by the Assistive Technology Act of 2004, as amended and administered by the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS). VATS was established in 1990 with commitment to increasing awareness, accessibility and acquisition of assistive technology. The program is guided by an Advisory Council composed of individuals with disabilities, family members and representatives from Virginia's disability service agencies.
VATS has three Regional Sites that provide an array of services, but also specialize in certain services. VATS contracts with the Foundation for Rehabilitation Equipment & Endowment (F.R.E.E.) to provide Durable Medical Equipment (DME) collection and re-assignment programs in all four regions of the Commonwealth served by DARS. F.R.E.E. is located in southwest Virginia. VATS Southeast Site at Old Dominion University (ODU) has focus on youth in transition and community activities. VATS North Site at George Mason University (GMU) helps coordinate data collection, information and assistance, and youth in transition activities. Both ODU and GMU provide a hand-on demonstration center, short-term equipment loans, training, public awareness, local and statewide resources, and general technical assistance for consumers who can benefit from the use of assistive technology.
Through VATS Information and Assistance System, callers can access information on assistive technology products, funding options, and resources that range from therapists to service providers to vendors of assistive technology devices and services. The toll free number, 1-800-435-8490, connects you with a professional who can answer inquiries and guide you to the best resources in your community.
The VATS Advisory Council
Currently, the VATS Advisory Council is composed of seventeen (17) members. All members of the Advisory Council are appointed by the Commissioner of the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services.
The majority of the membership of this advisory council is required to be individuals with disabilities who use assistive technology (AT), or their family members or guardians. Council members live in cities and counties throughout the state and are representative of both rural and urban areas of Virginia. Similarly, the membership reflects the racial and ethnic diversity of the State.
In addition, representatives of several state agencies must be included on the council. Representation from mandated public agencies includes the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services, the Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired (DBVI), the Virginia Department of Education, the Virginia Workforce Investment Council and the Virginia Council of Independent Living Centers. Other public agencies represented on the Advisory Council include the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services and the Virginia Department for the Aging.
The VATS Advisory Council meets several times each year and, as resources permit, rotate meeting locations around the State. The Council is led by a Chairperson who works with VATS staff to develop the agenda and content of the meetings. In addition to the Chair, the Council elects a Vice Chair, who will be the rising Chairperson, and a Secretary who will review minutes prepared by staff and act as the signatory as needed. The Council will select subcommittees that will act as tasks specific, ad hoc work groups (identification of vendors, collaborative use of funds, state plan development, etc.) and to advise on particular responsibilities, e.g. planning, implementation, and evaluation of activities, plus other issues that may be brought before the Council.
The Council will follow Robertís Rules of Order in conducting each meeting. At the chairpersonís discretion, council decisions will be made either through consensus or by member vote. It will be the responsibility of VATS staff to make meeting room arrangements, develop materials for information packets for each member, and assure accessibility of meeting sites and materials. Staff of the VATS will update the Advisory Council on program activities, and present any planned initiatives for Council input. The composition of the Council will enable input that is consumer-driven and consumer-responsive.
The VATS Assistive Technology Advisory Council Roster
- Elizabeth Flaherty, Chairperson
- Kelly Lum, OTR/L, Vice-Chair
- Peggy Fields, P.hD., Council Secretary
- Michael M. Behrmann, Ed.D.
- Clayton E. Bowen
- Melanie Brunson
- Christy Crowther
- Mary Wilds
- Tony Gentry, Ph.D., OTR/L
- George Scott Higdon
- Anthony W. Lineberry, Sr.
Manakin Sabot, Virginia
- Mary Mathena
Virginia Beach, Virginia
- William Massey
Newport News, Virginia
- Melissa Oliver, OTR/L
- Michele Samoy
- Betti Thompson
- Joann Willis
Revised January 2013. Please note VATS offers all information and materials in alternate formats upon request.