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from Sumer 1997 issue

"Hey! What's This Tech Loan Program That I Hear About?"

by Cecilia Robinson, Technology Specialist, TSBVI Outreach

Contents of this page:

Many of you may know about TSBVI's Technology Loan Program but have not used it. Throughout the school year, I received many questions from parents and teachers regarding this program. Here are some questions and answers that I want to share with you:

1. What is the Technology Loan Program?

The Technology Loan Program was created to provide loan equipment to students with visual impairments so that they could use the equipment to meet their educational needs. This program is a lending library of technological devices which includes computer programs, laptop computers, notetakers, closed-circuit televisions, and other equipment that are created for the visually impaired. Only adaptive technology equipment is provided. Teachers can apply for a specific technological device or program for their student to use for up to one school year.

2. Can I borrow something from the Tech Loan Program for my child to use? Where do I start? When do I have to send equipment back?

Yes, you can borrow something from the Tech Loan Program. First, talk to your child's VI teacher. Find out if the device/program that you have in mind will be appropriate for your child. Best practice suggests that your child's IEP team make this decision based on a technology assessment. In other words, your child's technology needs have to be identified prior to borrowing equipment from the Tech Loan Program. Then the VI teacher fills out an application form. On this form, the teacher will specify a training plan to help your child learn the device/program. She will also specify a procurement plan for purchasing the equipment when the loan period ends. Before you, the parent, and school district sign the application, each party should read the "Agreement for Loan of Technology Equipment" form and understand the responsibilities. Finally, the VI teacher will send us the application form with a copy of your child's technology evaluation report.

The beginning and end of the loan period will be specified on the application form. Before the loan period ends, plans should be made with the VI teacher to "clean up" the equipment (mainly, to delete all files created by your child) and set a date to send the equipment back to us. The equipment needs to be sent back to us when the loan period ends.

3. What kinds of things are available?

The Technology Loan Program has a variety of hardware and software:

At the beginning of each school year, new items will be added to the loan program and existing hardware/software will be updated. For a compete list of available loan items, contact the education service center in your region or call Gwen McDaniel at our office. Her number is (512) 206-9344 or you can leave a message for her using our toll-free number (800) 872-5273.

4. When do I know to ask for something from the Tech Loan Program?

If the following occurs, you can request the technological equipment from Tech Loan:

5. Who decides what equipment to ask for?

Best practice suggests that your child's IEP team, including the parent, makes the decision on the type of technological equipment to be used with your child. Frequently, the VI teacher initiates a request for equipment after consulting with various members on the team.

6. If I don't like the equipment, can I exchange it for something else?

Yes, if the loan equipment is used for evaluation. However, if the equipment is recommended on your child's technology evaluation report, then any changes will have to be brought to the child's IEP team. The team will address concerns and consider other equipment for your child, if necessary.

7. Can I have more than one piece of equipment at a time?

If you, the VI teacher, or a member of your child's IEP team feels that more than one piece of equipment will be needed for evaluation, then you can request the equipment that you need. Usually, the Technology Loan Program will provide all hardware and software to meet your child's technology needs (e.g. computer with Write:OutLoud and Intellikeys).

8. What if the equipment is damaged while we have it?

If you have just received the equipment and it fails to work, you should notify us within a week. You will be asked to send the equipment back to us and we will re-issue "new" equipment to you. If the equipment is damaged while assigned to your child, the damage still needs to be reported to us. Since the equipment is loaned to the school district, the school district will be responsible covering the cost of repair.

9. Can I borrow equipment for my child to use at home? Will I get any training to help my child?

The Technology Loan Program helps with providing equipment to address a student's educational needs in school. If technology is requested that is not related to your child's educational program, TCB may be able to help with the purchase. However, if TCB and other resources (school district and education service center) are exhausted, a loan can be requested from us through the Commission for the Blind.

The education service center usually provides training in various devices and programs. You may be able to attend these trainings. The VI teacher may be able to give you instructions on how to help your child use the device. If you feel that you need more in-depth training, you should communicate your needs to your child's VI teacher or to the Commission for the Blind.

10. If my child is deafblind, is there anything in Tech Loan that my child can use?

Currently, there are some technologies in Tech Loan available for the child who is deafblind. If your child is a Braille user, the Braille Lite or a refreshable Braille display may be appropriate. If your child has low vision and understands abstract images, software programs that address reading and math concepts or a CCTV may be beneficial. With adaptations, the Intellikeys or a switch to address issues relating to access may be items that your child can use. Work with your child's VI and AI teacher to find out what technologies are likely to help your child learn.

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from Sumer 1997 issue

Last Revision: July 30, 2002 August 19, 2004