New Horizons Un-Limited: Frequently Asked Questions: Communication for People with Disabilities
New Horizons Un-Limited Inc.
Legislation and Rights
Q: What Financial Assistance for communication is available for People with Disabilities?
A: There are federal programs that provide financial assistance to people with disabilities in the area of communication:
- The Universal Service Fund for low-income consumers program provides discounts on telephone installation and monthly telephone service to qualifying consumers. For information about this program and to determine whether you qualify for discounts under the Low-Income program:
Q: How can I find financial assistance or ways to fund a communication device for my adult child who has a disability?
A: The following programs and organizations offer Financial Assistance for communication devices. Visit the NHU page links below for more specific resources.
- Early intervention programs such as Head Start and the National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center identifies a student's needs for communication devices.
- Public Schools buy assistive technology for students with disabilities who are in a special education program with an Individual Education Plan (IEP). Parents have the right to decide whether an IEP wiil be helpful for their individual child's needs or not. If your child qualifies for an IEP, you can ask for an Adaptive Technology review.
- Vocation Rehabilitation programs can subsidize college tuition and assistive devices.
- College Disability Services can assist students with locating adaptive technology.
- Disability Organizations may offer financial assistance or computer adaptive technology, communication devices, demonstration, exchange or loan programs. Check with your local disability organization.
- Using Mini-Grants to Fund Assistive Technology for Students with Severe Disabilitiesis an article that describes how mini-grants can be developed to help fund augmentative communication devices and computers with adaptive access devices beyond what my be available through the child's IEP. Mini-grant proposals can be written and submitted to businesses and civic groups such as Lions clubs, the Junior League, Rotary International and Kiwanis International. The article describes how to go about writing, submitting a proposal.
- Centers for Independent Living offer equipment demonstration programs and/or low interest loan opportunities.
- Employers are required by the ADA to provide accommodations for people with disabilities. For example your employer may be required to provide a larger monitor, closed captioning, or voice recognition software for your computer, if accommodations are necessary to fulfill your job responsibilities.
- Visit Adaptive Technology Centers and Programs State Assistive Technology Centers offer assistance in technology equipment exchange programs, information about funding resources, training and technical assistance, Demonstration Programs where you can try a device orlow-interest loan opportunities, the Assistive Technology Loan Program, which will assist you to purchase the device you need.
- Private Insurance - Check with your health care insurance company for what is covered through benefits. Communication devices can be deemed medically necessary.
Legislation and Rights
Q: I would like to see the rules of the FCC change. How can I make my voice heard to the FCC?
A: In order to have your voice heard in an FCC rulemaking proceeding, first read the relevant Notice of Inquiry (NOI) or Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to identify the issues that the FCC is seeking comment on and the deadlines for submitting such comments. (FCC rulemaking documents are posted on the FCC web site along with additional information on how to file comments.) Then send your comments to the Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission, Washington, D.C., 20554. Please include on your comments the Docket Number of the proceeding, which may be found at the top of any NOI or NPRM.
Q: What can I do if I feel I am being charged unfairly because of my disability for a service non-disabled people would receive for free?
A: Contact the FCC's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau (CGB)which handles all consumer complaints and inquiries about telecommunications services, including complaints about accessibility for people with disabilities. CGB is home to the Commission's Disability Rights Office (DRO), which monitors the telecommunications industry to ensure that people with disabilities get the same opportunities as everyone else to telecommunicate. This office answers consumer inquiries and helps resolve complaints, from billing problems to telemarketing calls. For information or to file a complaint, consult the FCC web site at www.fcc.gov or call FCC consumer center 1-888 CALL-FCC or (TTY) 1-888-TELL-FCC.
The inquiry and complaint process is user friendly. Consumers can file complaints with the Commission by:
- Including a letter (which can be in Braille, English, Spanish, or any other language), fax, telephone (voice and TTY), and Internet e-mail. In addition, a consumer who uses sign language can send a video tape, and those who prefer can send an audio cassette recording.
- Video and audio tapes should be sent via private mail carriers, such as FedEx or UPS, to avoid degradation caused by regular mail security handling processes.
- Any complaint or inquiry must contain enough information to make it possible for the FCC to contact a manufacturer or service provider to resolve the concern. Include the following when filing a complaint:
- Name and address.
- Phone or TTY number.
- Name and address of the company complained of (and call sign or network affiliation for a broadcast entity).
- Details about the product or service about which the complaint is being made.
- Statement of facts supporting the complaint.
For more on the topic of Communication:
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[Updated June 30, 2016]
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