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The Richard West Assistive Technology Advocacy Center of Disability Rights New Jersey Awards Funding For Eight New Assistive Technology Projects

The Richard West Assistive Technology Advocacy Center (ATAC) of Disability Rights New Jersey has announced grant awards for projects to expand access to assistive technology services and devices in New Jersey.  This year’s grant awards focused on services for individuals with autism, services for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, and training and outreach services related to transition from school. During this fifth year of short-term funding opportunities, ATAC received 20 applications, from which the following eight grants were awarded:

Adam Krass Consulting, LLC (AKC):  AKC is based in Bergen County and provides assistive technology consulting services throughout New Jersey.  AKC will partner with Heightened Independence & Progress, a local center for independent living, and the Region V Council for Special Education of the New Jersey Department of Education to provide device demonstrations for students with disabilities who are transitioning from high school to higher education or careers. AKC will also provide self-advocacy training to students regarding their right to assistive technology in the transition process.

Advancing Opportunities (AO):  AO provides a variety of assistive technology services statewide, including device loan and device demonstration services. AO will partner with students from Rider University to create a series of YouTube videos highlighting how assistive technology provides opportunities for people with disabilities to live independently. AO will work with past recipients of ATAC funding to identify individuals residing in New Jersey who use assistive technology who can describe how it has made a difference in their lives.

Burlington County College (BCC): BCC operates an assistive technology demonstration and training program in cooperation with the New Jersey Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (DVRS), the lead agency for the ATAC project.  BCC will acquire new equipment to assist individuals in southern New Jersey who are deaf or have hearing loss to achieve employment goals. BCC will also assist local high school students who are transitioning to the workplace.

Family Resource Associates (FRA): FRA, a Monmouth County nonprofit, provides device loan and device demonstration services for individuals throughout New Jersey. FRA will partner with the Neptune Township Public School Regional Deaf Education Program to provide demonstration and loan services of communication and hearing software for younger children. This program will help provide services to an underserved, predominately minority community.

The Family Support Center of NJ (FSCNJ): FSCNJ is a comprehensive family-focused human service organization that provides programs and services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their caregivers.  FSCNJ will work with ATAC to produce a new section of their “Transition Matters” website regarding the role of assistive technology for students transitioning from school to adult life.  Additionally, FSCNJ will produce a training webinar related to the use of assistive technology in transition.

The Leaguers, Inc. (TLI):  TLI provides educational programs and services to the diverse communities in Essex and Union Counties, including Head Start programs. TLI received funding from ATAC last year to provide demonstrations of an augmentative communication application for tablet computers. This year, TLI will expand its program by purchasing additional equipment that allows children with autism and other communication barriers to participate more effectively in education. TLI will involve teachers, parents, and students in efforts to extend communication and learning experiences beyond the classroom.

Matheny Medical and Educational Center (MMEC): MMEC is a Somerset County facility that provides educational and habilitation services for individuals with disabilities throughout New Jersey. MMEC will establish a new assistive technology loan program to provide increased access to assistive technology for students who are unable to afford specific devices, or who are trying to obtain funding for these devices. MMEC will purchase a variety of switches, keyboards, and other tools that enable individuals with severe disabilities to communicate and learn more effectively.

The College of New Jersey, Center for Assistive Technology & Inclusive Education Studies (CATIES):  CATIES conducts assistive technology evaluations, augmentative communication evaluations, and professional development workshops, and provides information, technical assistance, and training to school districts and parents. CATIES will build on previous ATAC funding to expand its inventory of assistive technology applications and accessories for tablet computers, with a focus on providing hardware and software designed to assist individuals with autism.

This is the fifth year we’ve provided this funding for new projects,” said Curtis Edmonds, ATAC program manager.  “It’s been a great opportunity to expand the reach of assistive technology throughout the state. I am confident that this year’s recipients will be able to provide much-needed services to benefit New Jersey residents with disabilities, including people with autism and people who are deaf or hard of hearing.”

Disability Rights New Jersey (DRNJ) is the designated protection and advocacy system for people with disabilities in New Jersey.  DRNJ is a non-profit corporation whose governing board consists of a majority of persons with disabilities or family members of persons with disabilities. DRNJ provides legal and non-legal advocacy, information and referral, outreach, training and technical assistance to advance the human, civil, and legal rights of persons with disabilities.

The Richard West Assistive Technology Advocacy Center (ATAC) of Disability Rights New Jersey (DRNJ) serves as New Jersey’s federally funded assistive technology project through a sub-contract with New Jersey’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Its purpose is to assist individuals in overcoming barriers in the system and making assistive technology more accessible to individuals with disabilities throughout the state.



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