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Carol Bradley Bursack, Published December 14 2008

Assistive Technology explained

Dear Readers: I’ve attended several conferences, both in North Dakota and Minnesota, where I’ve met representatives of the Interagency Program for Assistive Technology. I’ve wanted to write about them, but it’s tricky since the two states provide different services. The last time I talked with Mike Haring, Assistive Technology coordinator, I asked him if he would tell us about the services they provide for North Dakota, so Mike is my guest columnist today. If you live in Minnesota, you can still call Mike’s office because they may be able to help you with some services, or at least point you in the right direction to get what you need.

“The Interagency Program for Assistive Technology (IPAT) delivers services so people with disabilities can get the assistive technology they need for work, school and home. Assistive technology is technology used by individuals with disabilities in order to perform functions that might otherwise be difficult or impossible.

“IPAT is North Dakota’s exclusive statewide AT program. IPAT’s services provide opportunities for people of all ages to learn about, try out and get assistive technology. IPAT is headquartered in Fargo, with additional staff in Bismarck and Cavalier. They offer demonstrations of assistive devices at two technology access centers located in Fargo and Bismarck. These sites showcase AT for people to explore in an interactive setting. We welcome individuals with disabilities, family members, caregivers, service providers, employers and others to drop-in or make an appointment to visit the centers.

“IPAT provides a short-term assistive technology equipment loan program. The loan library offers a wide range of devices for short-term loan including communication, telecommunications, computer access, learning, vision, safety, daily living, hearing, memory and recreation. The purpose of the equipment loan is to meet the ongoing need for exploration, trial use, funding justification, and for individuals whose own devices are in for repair.

“The AT Swap and Shop service is an opportunity for people to buy, sell, swap or give away used AT equipment.

“Any North Dakota resident with a disability who needs assistive technology and can demonstrate the ability to repay their loan, may be eligible for the Alternative Financial Loan Program. Loans may be used to purchase AT devices and services, such as modified vehicles or home modifications. The amount of money that can be borrowed ranges from $500 to $50,000.

“To increase awareness about the benefits, equipment types, funding options and policies specific to assistive technology, IPAT provides a toll-free number for information and referral, bi-monthly newsletter, Internet postings, exhibits and presentations.

For more information about assistive technology, contact IPAT at (800) 895-4728 or their Web site. www.ndipat.org.”

Bursack is the author of “Minding Our Elders,” a support book on family elder care, and maintains a Web site at www.mindingourelders.com. To view past columns, go to www.inforum.com and click on columnists. Readers can reach Bursack at cbursack@forumcomm.com or write her at The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107