New state assistive technology contract to help children with disabilities

The Arizona Department of Economic Security (ADES) has awarded an Assistive Technology Service and Devices contract to Southwest Human Development, a move that will help Arizona’s youngest children with disabilities access the specialized technology and support they need to succeed.

Child's assistive technology deviceThis statewide assistive technology contract will directly assist families with children, ages 0-3, eligible for services with the Arizona Early Intervention Program (AzEIP), ADES Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) and/or the Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and the Blind (ASDB).

Assistive technology ranges from items as “low tech” as a foam wedge customized for positioning to something as “high tech” as a power wheelchair for independent mobility. The technology plays an important role in helping children play with peers, communicate, make choices, move independently and participate more fully with their family, peers or caregivers.

“This contract and partnership with Southwest Human Development is an incredible opportunity to support Arizona’s infant and toddlers with disabilities so they can reach their fullest potential,” said Jenee Sisnroy, acting AzEIP program administrator. “This will ensure that children eligible for early intervention services throughout the state of Arizona who have an identified need for assistive technology on their Individualized Family Service Plan, known as an IFSP, will be able to receive those services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Part C.”

While the state must offer assistive technology services according to federal law when it has been identified as a need for an eligible child through early intervention, it’s unprecedented that assistive technology funding in the state of Arizona is designated to specifically help young children with disabilities during their first three years of life. Additionally, the state may also provide transportation and lodging for qualifying families in Arizona who live outside of Maricopa Country.

“This is a big deal for Arizona families,” said Tina Martin, Southwest Human Development’s assistant director of Services for Children with Disabilities. “This contract will allow us to expand our assistive technology services to children who may not otherwise have access to the tools they need to succeed.”

Children who qualify for benefits of the contract must meet certain requirements, including having an IFSP in place. These plans identify the assistive technology services that are necessary to help children with disabilities engage and participate in everyday routines and activities in their home and community.

Upon qualification, Southwest Human Development assistive technology specialists will partner with currently-assigned IFSP teams to support families of young children with disabilities. An assistive technology team will then be able to offer expertise and deliver customized equipment and services in order to provide the best possible outcomes for children with disabilities. The scope of services offered may include in-home coaching, training, demonstration of equipment, help with equipment purchases, custom-designed fabrications and access to loan equipment.

“The earliest years of life are the most important for early childhood development, which is why intervening with assistive technology gives us a special opportunity to change kids’ futures in such a positive and constructive way,” said Martin. “When children with disabilities receive assistive technology, it can help them make significant strides in all aspects of their lives.”

Looking for more information or have questions about Southwest Human Development’s Assistive Technology Program? Please contact Tina Martin at tmartin@swhd.org.