What Grants for Visually Impaired Adults Are Available?
Grants for visually impaired adults provide crucial support to enhance the lives of individuals, helping them to realize their full potential in society. These grants are often utilized for operating support and to purchase assistive devices that significantly improve the life of an individual with a visual impairment.
Losing sight can be a profoundly traumatic experience. However, various grants are available for adults who are suffering from visual impairment. Financial assistance is provided under various circumstances including:
Partially Sighted – It indicates a situation of visual problem, with a need for a person to receive special education in some cases.
Low Vision – It generally refers to a severe visual impairment where a person cannot read at a normal viewing distance, even with eyeglasses or contact lenses.
Legally Blind – It indicates that an individual has less than 20/200 vision in the better eye after contact lenses or glasses.
Blind – A condition in which an individual cannot see at all and learns via braille or other non-visual media.
Understanding Visual Impairment
Visual impairment ranks among the top 10 disabilities in adults, with the leading causes being cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and diabetic retinopathy (DR). In the United States, an individual with vision that cannot be corrected to better than 20/200 in the best eye, or a person with 20 degrees or less of visual field remaining, is eligible for disability classification. Educational institutions use terms such as low vision, partially sighted, legally blind, and blind to represent students with visual impairments.
Grants and Programs for Visually Impaired Adults
There are numerous grant programs and resources aimed at helping visually impaired adults. Let’s explore some of these opportunities:
1. Federal Student Aid Grant Programs
The federal government offers grants and funding specifically designed for students with disabilities who want to attend colleges, career schools, and universities. Special grant funds help cover educational costs, making higher education more accessible to visually impaired students.
2. State Support
State government agencies provide grants for visually impaired adults, offering support for purchasing eyeglasses, eye exams, screening, and adaptive aids for the home. Tax deductions for blindness are also available, and individuals can get more details by contacting their state agency for the visually impaired.
Assistive Technology Resource Project Resources
Funded under the Technology-related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act, State AT Projects support consumer-driven state plans to deliver assistive technology, aiding visually impaired individuals in accessing necessary tools and resources.
3. Funding Organizations
Various organizations support visually impaired adults, including:
The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) & Digital Federal Credit Union (DCU)
The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) members may join the Digital Federal Credit Union (DCU) to avail of benefits that assist the disabled.
To take advantage of the services provided by DCU, one must first join the AAPD. For more information, visit www.dcu.org or call 800-328-8797.
National Assistive Technology Technical Assistance Partnership (NATTAP)
State Assistive Technology Act programs are funded under the Assistive Technology Act to improve assistive technology for individuals with disabilities.
The programs support activities that maximize the ability of individuals with disabilities and their family members to obtain and access assistive technology devices and services.
The Assistive Technology Fund (ATF)
Several Lions Clubs provide vocational assistance to persons who are legally blind. The international office of Lions Clubs refers applications for equipment or other support to the relevant district offices.
4. Getting Back to Work
Programs like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) support visually impaired adults returning to work, allowing them to receive financial help and medical aid while working.
Grants for Assistive Technology for the Blind
Grants for assistive technology for the blind are essential in funding programs for buying assistive devices that help improve the lives of individuals with visual impairments. These technologies range from braille watches and printers to screen readers for blind individuals, enhancing their abilities and experiences.
Besides federal and state grants, other sources include:
1. Vocational Rehabilitation and Special Education Programs
Students can get the most assistive technology solutions through federally mandated programs such as Vocational Rehabilitation and Special Education.
Schools receive these adaptive products as part of an Individual Education Plan (IEP) or can get them through the Rehabilitation Act provisions.
Vocational Rehabilitation is a program designed towards self-sufficiency, where disabled students get help not only for paying the college but also to secure the adaptive devices and solutions they need to complete their coursework.
After college, Transition Programs are available to assist students with job placement and training, sometimes including assistive devices in an Individualized Transition Plan.
For more information, contact your state’s Parent Training and Information Center (PTI).
2. The Assistive Technology Fund (ATF) by the Association of Blind Citizens
The Association of Blind Citizens (ACB) runs the Assistive Technology Fund (ATF) to support blind and visually impaired people in accessing technology.
Grants cover half the price of accessible software or equipment.
Applicants must be legally blind and U.S. residents with annual household income below $50,000 and cash assets under $20,000. The application details and forms are available on the website. Visit https://blindcitizens.org/.
3. The Alternative Financing Technical Assistance Project (AFTAP)
In the United States, funding to purchase assistive devices varies from state to state.
The Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA) helps states offer low-interest loans under the Alternative Financing Technical Assistance Project (AFTAP).
The RESNA maintains a list of contacts for the financing of assistive devices in each state and territory.
4. Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program Technology & Evaluation Center (CAPTEC)
The Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program Technology & Evaluation Center (CAPTEC) is the U.S. government support for employees with a disability to purchase assistive devices. It is a facility dedicated to helping federal employees with disabilities find the best assistive technology (AT) solutions.
5. National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program (NDBEDP)
The NDBEDP is a pilot program for assistive devices. The idea is to provide people with combined hearing and vision loss access to modern telecommunication tools.
The necessary training is also given so that they can communicate, interact, use the internet and contribute to their community.
The program provides outreach, assessments, telecommunications technology, and training free of charge to those who meet federal eligibility guidelines.
For more information, visit https://www.fcc.gov/general/national-deaf-blind-equipment-distribution-program.
Grants for visually impaired adults and for assistive technology for the blind play a pivotal role in fostering independence, allowing individuals to become productive and fully integrated members of society. With the help of these funds and programs, visually impaired individuals can access tools, opportunities, and resources necessary to lead fulfilling lives.