MassMATCH, the assistive technology (AT) program for Massachusetts, and its partner, Easterseals Massachusetts, have a new way for individuals with disabilities and their families to afford the AT they want and need.
"This is a game-changer," emphasizes Leo Tonevski, Easterseals AT Department Director. "People who have been unable to access credit to finance AT now have a supportive way to so."
The AT Mini Loan is a zero-interest loan program for borrowing sums between $100 and $2,000. Loans will fund all kinds of AT devices and services and help borrowers build a positive credit history.
The AT Mini Loan is a component of the financial loan program Easterseals has administered for over a dozen years. The Massachusetts AT Loan Program--now re-branded the Alternative Finance Program--traditionally helps residents obtain a bank loan to buy expensive AT, such as adapted vans, hearing aids and other devices and services through competitive interest rates and terms.
"But now Easterseals is also directly financing AT," says Leo. "Our AT Mini Loan option will serve individuals banks usually turn away: applicants with poor credit or no credit, applicants living on a fixed income with a disability."
Catherine Fradenburg is the new Alternative Finance Program manager. She's also an AT specialist with experience working with young adults transitioning to college. "A lot of people can't afford the AT they need. Being able to support individuals with disabilities to access the technology that creates new opportunities is my passion. If you have an idea for a device or service you need, call me," she says.
Adults of all ages may apply for an AT Mini Loan, including seniors and individuals who need to rebuild their credit. The program is likely to be especially helpful to transition-age students, however. Students ages 18-22 often need computers and specialized software to succeed at school or work. "They may also need training," Catherine emphasizes. "The AT Mini Loan is an affordable way to build a credit history and buy AT and AT services. It can be a big step toward financial independence."
The AT Mini Loan program is made possible by a grant from the federal Administration for Community Living (ACL). The grant also supports Budget Your Bucks, a free 6-week training on financial literacy for young adults with disabilities offered by the Southeast Center for Independent Living. Upcoming trainings begin May 31st in Fall River and June 20th in New Bedford!
Learn more about Budget Your Bucks.
Information and an application form will be available online at https://www.massalternativefinance.org/ Stay tuned!
The Mass. AT Loan Program is operated by Easter Seals MA and MassMATCH, the state's Assistive Technology Act program, administered by the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission. The Administration for Community Living is part of the US Department of Health and Human Services.