HOYER STATEMENT ON THE ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY FOR INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES ACT OF 2004

For Immediate Release:

June 14, 2004

Contact:Stacey Farnen
202-225-3130

WASHINGTON – House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today in support of the Improving Access to Assistive Technology for Individuals with Disabilities Act of 2004:

 “Mr. Speaker, technology has become tremendously important in everyone's daily life, but there are perhaps few places where technology plays as important a role in an individual's daily lives than for individuals with disabilities.

 That is why I am pleased to be a cosponsor and strong supporter of the Improving Access to Assistive Technology for Individuals with Disabilities Act of 2004, considered in the House of Representatives today.

 Assistive technology devices and adaptations are critical to ensuring that individuals with disabilities can live with independence and pursue work, education, communication and other aspects of daily living.

 Since the Assistive Technology Act was enacted in 1998, assistive technology state grants have provided funds to states to start-up and establish systems for distributing assistive technology devices and services.  States have since made significant progress in building and improving these systems.   The Maryland Technology Assistance Program, for example, provides a low-interest loan program to help people gain access to and afford critical technologies.

 The previous authorization originally included a sunset provision to phase out the state assistance grants.  However, as it has become clear that technology was increasingly important and that this program provided crucial assistance, support has grown to make this program permanent.

 I am pleased that over the past several years, we have been able to include language in the Labor-HHS-education bill to waive the sunset provision and adequate funding, so that so that states would not have to eliminate their programs.

 With this important reauthorization bill, we will no longer have to include this language on an annual basis, and individuals with disabilities can be confident that this program will continue to provide states with needed assistance.

 I am also pleased that this bill has been written to revise the program with greater focus on providing direct benefits to individuals with disabilities.

 I hope all of my colleagues will support this bipartisan legislation.”

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