Programs and Services
How can we help you?
Most of us use Assistive technology (AT) in our daily lives, everything from glasses or screen readers to highly sophisticated computers that make it possible to activate most of the functions in your home by voice command. The Virginia Assistive Technology System (VATS) can help you learn about the range of available technology, select the most appropriate device, receive training on how to use the selected device, and find resources to pay for the device.
The mission of the Virginia Assistive Technology System is to ensure that those who need assistive technology get the appropriate and affordable piece of equipment or device. We value inclusion and believe that the correct equipment is important to that end. Whether you want to be more successful at school, live more independently in your community, or wish to work, assistive technology can be the solution.
What services or programs are available?
VATS Central Office and Regional Sites
The Virginia Assistive Technology System operates a central office and three regional sites in Virginia. The mission of the VATS is to ensure that Virginians of all ages and abilities can acquire the appropriate, affordable assistive and information technologies and services they need to participate in society as active citizens. At the community level, these sites provide information and referral on devices, services, funding options and other activities specific to each region's needs. For additional information, please visit the website of each of these offices.
- The VATS Central Office is located within the Department of Rehabilitative Services in Richmond, Virginia.
- The VATS North Regional Site is located at the are located in northern Virginia at The Kellar Institute for Human DisAbilities (KIHD) at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.
- The VATS Southeast Regional Site is located at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.
- The Foundation for Rehabilitation Equipment and Endowment (F.R.E.E.) is located in Roanake, Virginia.
Information and Assistance
Through our Information and Assistance (I & A) system you have access to a considerable amount of information on assistive technology products, funding options, and resources that range from therapists to service providers to assistive technology vendors. You can access this system by phone at 1-800-435-8490 or by selecting the appropriate subject areas on this web site, e.g. the vendor database provides a listing of vendors of AT products and services, and Types of AT which pictures a variety of devices and describes what they do. Go to the Information and Assistance page for more information.
VATS has a collaborative relationship with the Virginia Office of Protection and Advocacy (VOPA), whose charge is to protect individuals with disabilities from discrimination and to serve as their advocate to resolve such issues. If you want to know what your rights are concerning assistive technology we can help you advocate for what you need. If you feel your rights are being denied, we can offer advice and direction with a simple phone call either to the VATS central office, the VATS regional site closest to you, or directly to VATS. VOPA's web site is http://www.vopa.state.va.us/. Their phone number is 1-800-552-3962.
Demonstrations of AT devices and equipment are offered by VATS regional sites, giving you the opportunity to try before you buy. Each site keeps a range of devices that might meet your expressed need. Staff will demonstrate how devices work and assist you in your decision making process.
Reuse of Assistive Technology
VATS has built a statewide network of Assistive Technology (AT) reuse programs. Gently used durable medical equipment (DME) is donated by the public to the Virginia Reuse Network (VRN) where the equipment is then sanitized, repaired, matched, and redistributed at no cost to the consumer. The VRN provides reused DME to qualifying Virginians with disabilities. In general, the VRN serves persons who are uninsured, underinsured, or lack resources to purchase appropriate DME (mostly mobility and bathroom safety equipment) on their own. VRN partners include: the Foundation for Rehabilitation Equipment and Endowment (F.R.E.E.); the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS): Virginia Assistive Technology System (VATS) and Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center (WWRC); and an informal or “Virtual” network comprised of various human services agencies, healthcare organizations, healthcare professionals, churches and others interested in helping persons have access to quality DME. The Virginia Reuse Network (VRN) is administered by Virginia Assistive Technology System (VATS) and is currently supported by several funding sources, including the Commonwealth Neurotrauma Initiative (CNI) Trust Fund, and the federal Assistive Technology Act. Click on the “Equipment Reuse” button on the left menu bar for additional information, including a contact list for the reuse services across the State.
The AT Equipment Exchange provides a means for anyone to post assistive technology (AT) equipment and services they wish to donate or sell to Virginians with disabilities at a reduced price. Individuals may also request assistive technology items needed. The Equipment Exchange functions like a classified advertisement, connecting individuals with one another to exchange equipment. Exchange activities do not involve warehousing inventory and do not include repair, sanitation or refurbishing of used devices. VATS is not directly involved in the transaction; VATS only provides contact information of the potential “buyers” and “sellers”. The Equipment Exchange is managed using an email distribution list of statewide partners participating in the Virginia Reuse Network. The exchange is intended to provide statewide access to and acquisition of AT products and services.
Public Awareness, Training and Technical Assistance Activities
Public Awareness, Training and Technical Assistance activities are offered to community, public and private entities to increase knowledge of assistive technology and how it can benefit people of all ages and abilities.
VATS supports the transition of individuals with disabilities of all ages between home, school, community and employment.
How can I pay for Assistive Technology?
There are many resources available to pay for Assistive Technology. If you are a client of one of the State Disability Agencies and need AT to function independently at work, at home or in your community, that agency may pay for what you need. If you have private health insurance that will cover the cost of medical equipment, you can submit a claim to them. If you are on Medicaid and you need AT for medical conditions, Medicaid will purchase the device(s) you need.
If you do not qualify for any of these resources, you can apply for a loan from the Assistive Technology Loan Fund Authority. The Assistive Technology Loan Fund Authority provides loans to purchase assistive technology, including vehicles and home modifications, with longer repayment terms, low monthly payments, and low interest rates. See www.ATLFA.org for more details.