Although a number of technological advancements have created devices that are helpful for the hearing impaired, these devices often carry high price tags that make them unaffordable for many individuals. To help hearing-impaired persons gain access to these devices, a number of government agencies provides grants targeted for hearing-impaired residents.
Special Education Technology Grant
To promote technology development and use among persons with disabilities, the government offers a grant to research institutions, educational facilities and teachers in training. The Special Education Technology and Media Services for Individuals with Disabilities Grant, offered annually as described by FedMoney.com, provides funds for cultural activities, captioning equipment and video description services. In addition, the grant supports educational media activities for children with hearing disabilities. Although, as with many government grant programs, individuals may not apply for this opportunity, a number of public and non-profit institutions, municipalities, businesses and educational institutions may receive the funds for their own programs to disburse directly to hearing-impaired individuals.
Supported Employment State Grant
To help deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals find employment, the federal government offers a special grant known as the Supported Employment for Individuals with the Most Significant Disabilities to individual states. These funds, which supplement funds states may already receive through vocational rehabilitation grants, help states place deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals in employment positions where they can excel. Depending on the state’s specific programs, the funds may also help persons with disabilities receive specialized training and specific instruction that may lead to future jobs. The availability of educational and training dollars varies from state to state. Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals who wish to pursue funds under this grant should contact their local department of education; state representatives seeking grant money should contact the U.S. Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services in Washington, D.C.
State Telephone Access Grants
Each state maintains its own grant and assistance program designed to help hearing-impaired individuals obtain devices for use in telecommunications. Depending on the specific state program, individuals may receive telecommunications devices for the deaf (TDD), teletype (TTY) equipment, bidirectional pagers or individual grants for the purchase of such equipment. In some states, grants received through the federal Assistive Technology Act Program provide equipment or money to purchase equipment for video relay, a service that allows hearing-impaired individuals to communicate with others or with relay center operators using American Sign Language rather than a computerized keyboard. The national Telecommunication Equipment Distribution Program Association, available online at TEDPA.org, helps individual applicants apply for communication-related grants and equipment.
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