Fwd: March 21 Hearing on Assistive Technology Act
tmiller at pirs.org
Wed Mar 27 15:34:08 PST 2002
>>>Subject: March 21 Hearing on Assistive Technology Act
>>>March 22, 2002
>>>To: ATAP Members
>>>From: Jane West and Ellin Nolan
>>>Re: House Oversight Hearing on the Assistive Technology Act
>>>Yesterday at 10:30 AM the Subcommittee on 21st Century Competitiveness of
>>>the House Education and the Workforce Committee held an oversight hearing on
>>>the Assistive Technology Act. This is the first hearing the House has held
>>>in about a decade. The purpose of the hearing was to examine the Assistive
>>>The hearing room was filled with people, including many users of assistive
>>>technology who came from as far away as California and Idaho. Eight Members
>>>of the House were present at the hearing, which is an impressive number
>>>considering that the House of Representatives had been in session late the
>>>night before and had actually gone into Spring recess Wednesday night.
>>>(Most Members of Congress are eager to leave immediately when Congress goes
>>>into recess to get back to their districts.)
>>>Members present were: Mr. McKeon (Chairman), (R-CA), Mr. Isaakson (R-GA),
>>>Mr. Osborne (R-NB), Mrs. Mink (D-HI), Mr. Tierney (D-MA), Mr. Hinojsa
>>>(D-TX), Mrs. Rivers (D-MI). In addition, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), attended
>>>to introduce Paul Rasinski, Tech Act Project director in Maryland who was
>>>Mr. McKeon acknowledged the impressive attendance at the hearing, especially
>>>those from California and Idaho. Other Tech Act project representatives
>>>attended from Delaware, Pennsylvania, Texas, Nebraska, Idaho, Illinois and
>>>Virginia. Tech Act projects were extremely effective in contacting members
>>>and sharing their accomplishments and urging them to attend the hearing.
>>>The witnesses at the hearing were: Mark Schultz, Tech Act Project Director
>>>from Nebraska; Paul Rasinski, Tech Act Project Director from Maryland; Bill
>>>Ward, recipient of Title III loan from Virginia; and Carol Novack, parent of
>>>assistive technology user from Florida.
>>>Mr. McKeon gave an opening statement providing the history of the Tech Act
>>>and the current situation with the Tech Act. He noted that one of the
>>>purposes of the hearing was to determine if the Title I programs have
>>>fulfilled their original purpose. He acknowledged that 23 states were
>>>scheduled to be eliminated from funding this year and that the President's
>>>budget support this. He noted that reauthorization was scheduled for 2004.
>>>Mr. Osborne introduced Mr. Schultz; Mr. Hoyer introduced Mrs. Rasinski; Mr.
>>>McKeon introduced Mr. Ward and Mr. Isaakson introduced Ms. Novack ( a former
>>>constituent of his).
>>>Mark Schultz spoke about the accomplishments of the Nebraska project and
>>>their success in leveraging other funds for various programs. Paul Rasinski
>>>described Maryland's efforts, including their Title III loan program. He
>>>urged the Committee to ensure funding for all states so that the
>>>infrastructure that is in place will be retained. He pointed out that all
>>>Title III loan programs are administered by Title I projects. Bill Ward
>>>talked about how easy it was for him to get a loan under the Title III
>>>program and what an incredible difference his assistive technology makes for
>>>him in terms of his ability to live independently. He specifically
>>>addressed how effectively the Title I program works with the Title III
>>>program to ensure that consumers like him make knowledgeable decisions about
>>>what technology to purchase. He noted that "Both Tech projects and AT loan
>>>programs are critical to independence and helping consumers acquire needed
>>>technology and making informed choices." Carol Novack spoke about her
>>>experiences seeking assistive technology for her son. She asserted that the
>>>goal of the AT projects has been met and that the future should prioritize
>>>expanding alternative financing programs, promoting assistive technology
>>>recycling, funding expert assessments and providing consumer training.
>>>When the witnesses finished, Mr. McKeon described going with his wife to
>>>purchase a cell phone. He noted that there were many types of cell phones
>>>to choose from and many experts to advise them. He contrasted this
>>>experience with the area of assisitvie technology, noting that while he was
>>>a believer in market forces, assistive technology was clearly an area where
>>>the market was not enough. There was a need for a government role. He told
>>>the panel that while he knew that, he was only one of 435 Members of the
>>>House and his colleagues needed to be convinced. He asked the panel to give
>>>him advice on how to convince his colleagues of the importance of the
>>>federal role in this area. The panel provided excellent recommendations
>>>related to the federal role being one of providing seed money that leverages
>>>additional resources to meet this important need.
>>>Mrs. Mink asked panelists about what would be lost if the 23 states lost
>>>their funding. She noted that she had heard a very loud voice from her
>>>constituents about how critically important this program was to Hawaii.
>>>Both Mark and Paul responded to Mrs. Mink describing the services that would
>>>be lost. Mr. Isaakson suggested that future efforts should include a
>>>priority for recycling. Mr. Tierney suggested that greater use of the web
>>>for cataloguing devices would be helpful. Mr. Hinojosa noted that the
>>>Department of Education was required to provide an annual report to Congress
>>>on the accomplishments and activities of the Tech Act and asked panel
>>>members if they had ever seen such a report. The panel members responded
>>>"no." Mr. McKeon announced that he would follow up with the Department of
>>>Education. The hearing was adjourned at noon.
>>>This hearing was a great success. It demonstrated to Members that there is
>>>a significant constituency for this legislation. It demonstrated the
>>>accomplishments and effectiveness of the Title I programs. It established
>>>an official record of statements and positions that provide evidence of the
>>>critical federal role in this area. It served to educate the Subcommittee
>>>about assistive technology and the AT Act. It is an excellent foundation for
>>>pursuing both an amendment to save the 23 states and reauthorization.
>>>Congratulations to Members of ATAP! You did an excellent job in providing
>>>information, educating your representatives and describing your
>>>Attached is the testimony submitted to the Subcommittee by ATAP.
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