This week, Chloe Mason-Mann became the second recipient of an iPad from UCP's Bellows Fund and Disability Support Program. Chloe is a three year-old girl with Down Syndrome who is non-verbal. Chloe shows promise that the iPad may be a good match as an augmentative communication device, as she already communicates using sign language and has a rather broad vocabulary. The hope is that the iPad will open-up a whole new world for Chloe -one where she can fully communicate with her family and peers. Congratulations Chloe!
The iPad has changed the lives of many people with disabilities. It has opened doors to communication that for years were closed. Communication is key to the human experience; when cut-off, many children and adults become frustrated, isolated, and depressed. The iPad is starting to turn that around and offer hope. It should also be noted that iPads have been used to help children with diverse disabilities develop other skills as well, such as social skills, learning about cause and effect, developing fine and gross motor skills, behavior modification, skills in adaptive behavior, reading, writing, spelling, math, etc.
Though the iPad is showing much promise, it can be difficult to acquire one for a child with disabilities. Here are some tips to try and get an iPad:
1.) Contact your insurance company first. Though not all insurances cover iPads, some may if you can make the case that it's a cost-effective augmentative communication device. For instance, a DynaVox would cost them several thousand dollars, while an iPad would cost $500-$700+ (depending on features and if you also request they cover some Apps). For further reference, please read itaalk.org/fundingsources/medicalinsurancecoverage.html.
2.) Ask your child's school to cover one. The challenge is your child may be provided with one only at school or if allowed to take home, it may be the sole property of the school district and have to be returned at some point. Since school districts vary greatly, it is important not to jump to any conclusions about what your school will do and work with them directly. For further reference, please read http://blog.friendshipcircle.org/2011/03/31/6-steps-to-get-the-ipad-into-your-childs-special-education-classroom/.
3.) Have a fundraiser. You can ask friends and family to donate through Facebook, Twitter, and emails by using sites like:
4.) Apply for a giveaway. Realizing the many benefits of iPads for children with disabilities, many programs have been popping-up throughout the country to give them away. Try:
5.) Apply for a grant. Some non-profit agencies and foundations may provide a grant to help your child get an iPad, just as UCP did for Chloe. Some grants to check-out:
Find your local UCP Affiliate and ask to apply for the Bellows Fund:
6.) Apply for a loan. The CT Tech Act offers an assistive technology loan program and provides loans ranging from $500-$30,000 for a diverse array of assistive technology devices. To learn more, visit: http://www.cttechact.com/loan/
7.) Borrow an iPad. Southern Connecticut State University's Center for Adaptive Technology loans iPads (and computers) to all Connecticut schools for up to four months (can be renewed after that point in some cases). This may be a good option to see if an iPad is an appropriate device for your child before purchasing one. To learn more, go to: http://www.cttechact.com/device_loan/computer.php
8.) Contact local community groups. Sometimes local groups, like churches, Knights of Columbus, Lions Clubs, Elks Clubs, and Rotary Clubs can be a resource and worth contacting.
9.) Get a refurbished iPad. Buying a refurbished iPad directly from Apple (http://store.apple.com/us) can save quite a bit of money. If size is not an issue, consider getting a refurbished iPad Mini, which start in the $275 range.
Good Luck! For more resources on funding for iPads, please see http://itaalk.org/fundingsources.html from which this article was adapted.
You may also wish to see: http://www.abledata.com/abledata_docs/funding.htm for additional resources.
UCP’s Disability Support Program is Supported by:
United Way, Charter Oak Credit Union, Chelsea Groton Foundation, Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut, Dime Bank Foundation, Eastern Federal Bank Foundation, Frank Loomis Palmer Fund, People’s United Community Foundation, RS Gernon Fund, AT&T, Bellows Fund, Pfizer's United Way contributions, Miracle Temple Church, Travelers, Niantic Lions, CT Elks, Kostin Ruffkess, Electric Boat Employees Community Services Fund, UCP fundraisers and individual contributions, and golfers and the following sponsor's of UCP's Golf Tournament on May 7, 2012: http://www.ucpect.org/news/2012/05/11/ucp-golf-tournament-a-success