Loan Program Helps Montanans with Disabilities Afford Assistive Tech
Friday, April 30, 2021
HELENA, Mont. - People with disabilities face a number of barriers to getting the equipment they need in daily life. A program in Montana is helping change that.
The Montana Assistive Technology Loan program offers low- and no-interest loans for devices like hearing aids, screen-readers and even wheelchair-accessible vehicles, which usually aren't covered by private insurance or Medicare and can be costly.
Julie Williams, outreach coordinator for the program, said assistive technology is vital to people's lives.
"It can span a variety of different types of technology," said Williams. "But all of them are allowing people to live their best life, to be participating in society in ways that they might not otherwise be able to do."
The program is a partnership between the financial nonprofit Rural Dynamics and the Rural Institute at the University of Montana's assistive technology program MonTECH. It was able to expand through a federal grant last fall.
According to World Health Organization, about one billion people globally would benefit from assistive technology, but only about one in ten has access.
Ann-Margaret Periman, the disability resource coordinator for Rural Dynamics, said people with disabilities often have a hard time getting loans from traditional banks for these types of technologies.
"People feel stuck in the fact that some of this equipment and some of their needs are very expensive, and they don't have any means of getting that," said Periman. "Usually people are on Social Security, Social Security Disability, and their income is limited."
Williams said Rural Dynamics also has a financial wellness program.
One quadriplegic client applied for a $50,000 loan for a wheelchair-accessible van, but was denied. Over the course of a year, Williams said the organization helped the client get his finances in order to get a loan approved.
"We also helped him cut in half the amount of loan that he needed to take out to get the vehicle that met his needs," said Williams.
She said the program helped him find a van in the $20,000 range.
get more stories like this via email
Health and Wellness
The Alabama House and Senate both passed bills this week that would help people resume in vitro fertilization and provide legal protections for provid…
It's early in the season for wildfires in Nebraska, but dozens of firefighters have already been battling a large wildfire near North Platte for …
A new report finds some Missouri laws and prospective laws are perceived as discriminatory regardless of their actual intent - and it outlines some bi…
By Frank Jossi for Energy News Network.Broadcast version by Mike Moen for Minnesota News Connection reporting for the Joyce Foundation-Public News Ser…
By Claire Carlson, John Upton and Kaitlyn Trudeau for The Daily Yonder.Broadcast version by Mark Richardson for Oregon News Service for the Public …
A new Network for Public Education report grades Florida an "F" for its public school funding. As Florida lawmakers negotiate the state budget in …
As members of Congress and presidential candidates battle it out over immigration, a group of Nevada leaders and experts dedicated to advancing …
A bill in Olympia would open access to unemployment while workers are on strike, but time is running out for lawmakers to pass the legislation…