Assistive Technology and Employment
The Pennsylvania Assistive Technology and Employment Collaborative is a network of Pennsylvania organizations that provides information to employers and others on assistive technology and how it can help individuals with disabilities in employment; understanding the employer's responsibility for providing assistive technology; and how to locate, try, and buy assistive technology devices and services, including employer resources and incentives. Initial funding for this Collaborative was provided by the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability and Employment Policy.
Assistive technology (AT) encompasses devices that increase function, independence, participation, and productivity for people with disabilities, as well as the services needed for using these devices. AT can range from easy-to-obtain and inexpensive products like electric staplers to sophisticated, specialized adaptations for computer access. There are many AT solutions that can assist in a variety of occupations and workplaces!
The mission of the Pennsylvania Assistive Technology and Employment Collaborative is to educate employers on the benefits of and resources for workplace assistive technology. The purpose of the Collaborative's efforts is to increase the likelihood that assistive technology devices and services will be utilized as workplace accommodations to recruit, hire, retain, and advance employees with disabilities.
Free trainings from the Collaborative about the scope and benefits of assistive technology as workplace accommodations are available for human resources professionals, small business owners, industries, business organizations, and other employers throughout Pennsylvania. The duration and content of the training can be customized for the employer's needs, and trainings can be held at the employer's location.
In addition, the Collaborative can conduct a half-day Train-the-Trainer session for individuals who have a strong interest in the use of assistive technology in the workplace to facilitate the recruitment, hiring, retention, and advancement of employees with disabilities AND who agree to replicate portions of the training curriculum to employers/business owners, human resources and other professionals, providers, advocates, and individuals with disabilities. Each participant agency/organization in the Train-the-Trainer session will receive a full training package, including a training notebook, CD containing all training materials in accessible formats, training DVDs, low-tech assistive technology devices, and additional materials.
Contact any of the members of the Collaborative for more information about the Collaborative, to learn more about each member's organization, or for general information about assistive technology and workplace accommodations. The members are:
- Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania (DRN)
- Pennsylvania's Initiative on Assistive Technology (PIAT)
- Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation (PATF)
- Pennsylvania Bureau of Workforce Development Partnership (BWDP)
- Pennsylvania Business Leadership Network (PA BLN)
- Pennsylvania Client Assistance Program (CAP)
- Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR)
- Pennsylvania Statewide Independent Living Council (PA SILC) Employment Committee
- Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) Programs
The mission of the Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania (DRN) is to advance, protect, and advocate for the human, civil, and legal rights of Pennsylvanians with disabilities. DRN is a statewide, non-profit corporation designated as the federally-mandated organization to advance and protect the civil rights of adults and children with disabilities. DRN works with people with disabilities and their families, their organizations, and their advocates to ensure their right to live in their communities with the services they need, to receive a full and inclusive education, to live free of discrimination, abuse and neglect, and to have control and self-determination over their services. DRN works to ensure that people with disabilities have equal and unhindered access to employment, transportation, public accommodations, and government services; to enforce their rights to vocational, habilitative, post-secondary educational, health, and other services; and to protect them from abuse and neglect. DRN identifies systemic issues that are important to people with disabilities and seeks change and reform through litigation, administrative advocacy, and public education.
Chava Kintisch, Staff Attorney, Assistive Technology Project Director
215-238-8070, extension 210 (Voice)
Offices in Harrisburg, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh
Main intake in Harrisburg:
1414 N. Cameron St., 2nd Floor
Harrisburg, PA 17103
Pennsylvania's Initiative on Assistive Technology (PIAT) is a federally-funded program of the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University, the designated lead agency for implementing the Assistive Technology Act of 1998, as amended. Key activities designed to improve access to assistive technology include device demonstrations and short-term equipment loans, which enable borrowers to try a device in the environment in which it will be used. Employers can borrow devices to make a decision about an accommodation for an employee with a disability or for the general public (e.g. to answer the question, will my Deaf customers be able to use an UbiDuo at the courtesy counter?).
PIAT also works to help people acquire the AT they need, through PA's Telecommunication Device Distribution Program and a variety of equipment reutilization programs. PIAT's information and referral service will respond to questions related to assistive technology devices and services. PIAT also provides training about the scope and benefits of AT.
Amy S. Goldman, MS, Associate Director, the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University; Program Director, Pennsylvania's Initiative on Assistive Technology
800-204-PIAT (7428) (Voice - toll-free, in Pennsylvania)
866-268-0579 (TTY - toll-free, in Pennsylvania)
Institute on Disabilities
1755 N. 13th Street
Student Center, Room 411S
Philadelphia, PA 19122
The Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation (PATF) helps people with disabilities and their families purchase the assistive technology devices and services they want through low-interest loans, mini-loans / mini-grants, information about other assistive technology programs in Pennsylvania, and information about other possible funding sources in Pennsylvania. PATF serves people with all disabilities, family members, and older adults, regardless of where they live within Pennsylvania. PATF helps people of ALL income levels, but individuals must have an ability to repay a loan. PATF is a consumer choice program, which allows borrowers to choose the technology they want from the vendor of their choice.
888-744-1938 (Toll-free Voice/TTY)
1004 West 9th Avenue, 1st Floor
King of Prussia, PA 19406
The mission of the Pennsylvania Bureau of Workforce Development Partnership (BWDP) is to ensure the efficient and effective advancement and encouragement for statewide and local productivity, achievement, growth, and development that focuses on the abilities, innovation, and creativity at the state and local level of a consolidated workforce program. The BWDP is responsible for the management, administration, and oversight of operations funded by the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). The BWDP works to create opportunities for Pennsylvanians by ensuring access to workforce development, training, and education programs that equip individuals with the skills employers need to be successful.
The Pennsylvania Business Leadership Network is an employer-driven program designed for business leaders to promote hiring practices that enable qualified people with disabilities to enter and succeed in the workplace. The emphasis of the PA BLN is to create opportunities where employers can communicate, peer-to-peer, to provide candid and frank assessments of hiring successes and challenges. PA BLN provides employers with access to a network of their peers as well as opportunities for training, positive public relations, an increased number of applicants with a disability, and a centralized source of information.
The Pennsylvania Client Assistance Program (CAP) serves as a vital link between vocational rehabilitation, independent living, and people with disabilities in the community. CAP helps individuals with disabilities to pursue administrative and legal remedies to ensure protection of their rights under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. CAP helps individuals with disabilities to resolve questions or concerns about vocational rehabilitation, independent living, and other services funded under the Rehabilitation Act. CAP provides systemic advocacy on issues impacting the delivery of vocational rehabilitation services. CAP also provides information and referral about Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
OVR is a state-federal partnership whose mission is to help Pennsylvanians with disabilities secure and maintain employment and independence. The agency has 21 district offices in two field Bureaus located in 15 diferent communities across the Commonwealth. The Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (BVRS) serves vocational needs of all individuals with disabilities except those with blindness or visual impairments. The Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services (BBVS) focuses on the rehabilitation and independence training needs of those citizens. BBVS also receives special funds to provide Rehabilitation Teaching, Orientation and Mobility Training, and Social Work services in addition to its allocation of vocational rehabilitation funding. All services are eligibility based, that is the person must meet certain criteria in order to receive services. Services are individualized according to need and, with the exception of the specialized services in BBVS, may only be provided in relation to achievement of an employment goal.
Contact Information—www.dli.state.pa.us Keyword OVR
717-787-6176 (BBVS only)
Toll free in Pennsylvania
1-800-622-2842 (BBVS only)
The goal of the Pennsylvania Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC) Employment Committee is to increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities by working with employers, trade associations, Centers for Independent Living, the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, and others crucial to the employment of people with disabilities.
Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) Programs assist Social Security beneficiaries with transitioning from dependence on public benefits to paid employment and greater economic self-sufficiency. Pennsylvania's three WIPA Programs are AHEDD, DRN, and Goodwill PASSABCO:
- News Articles about Assistive Technology and Employment
- Information Especially for Employers
- Assistive Technololgy at Work Training Manual
- Guides to Assistive Technology and Employment
- Related Publications
- Presentations and Upcoming Events
- Other Links
Amy S. Goldman
800-204-7428 (Voice, in-state only) or 215-204-3862 (Voice)
866-268-0579 (TTY, in-state only)
Chava Kintisch, Staff Attorney, Assistive Technology Project Director—www.drnpa.org
Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania
215-238-8070, extension 210 (Voice)