2002 Conference Proceedings

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Missouri's Telecommunications Access Program for Internet - A statewide delivery model for assessment and training

Alisha Criswell
The Capper Foundation - Center for Assistive Technology
2700 E. 18th Street, Suite 220
Kansas City, MO 64127
Fax: 816-231-7899
E-mail: criswell@capper.org

Roselie Backer-Thompson
Missouri Assistive Technology
4731 S. Cochise, Suite 114
Independence, MO 64055-6975
Telephone: 800-647-8557
TTY: 800-647-8558
Fax: 816-373-5193
E-Mail: matpmo@swbell.net 

Missouri's Telecommunications Access Program for Internet (TAP-I) provides, at no cost to a qualified applicant, the adaptive computer equipment and training necessary for using adaptive equipment for basic access to the internet and electronic mail in the consumer's home. The program serves all areas of disability, all ages and all geographical areas of Missouri.

The Telecommunications Access Program for Internet is an expansion of Missouri's Telecommunication Access Program which provided adaptive telephone equipment for auditory communication. While many states have an adaptive telephone program, Missouri is the only state to our knowledge, which provides the adaptive computer equipment needed for basic access to the internet or text-based telecommunications.

While the program will provide any equipment needed for basic access, a "core" list of adaptive equipment was developed as a projection of the type of equipment which would be requested most often. Examples of adaptive output equipment which was included on the "core" list are screen readers such as JAWS, Window-Eyes, outSPOKEN, Home Page Reader, Kurzweil 3000; enlarging software such as ZoomText Xtra, MAGic, and inLARGE; and refreshable braille displays for people who have dual disabilities such as a visual and hearing loss combined. Examples of adaptive computer input equipment provided are alternative keyboards such IntelliKeys, BigKeys, WinKing, WinMini, BAT Keyboard; alternative pointing devices such as Trackball Pro, Joystick Pro, Touchpads, Cordless Wheel Mouse; standards keyboard enhancing programs such as Co:Writer, Reach Interface Author; and, voice recognition programs such as Dragon Naturally Speaking and ViaVoice. The TAP-I program has made every effort to support the PC and Macintosh computers equally. The TAP-I program will not provide the basic computer, nor pay for internet service nor will it provide adaptive equipment not needed for basic internet access such as braille embossers, electronic notetakers, augmentative communication devices, printers, and Braille embossers.

The TAP-I program is developing a set of materials and a network of consumer support providers to assist qualified applicants in selecting the adaptive equipment which best meets their needs for basic internet access. When an application is received, the consumer is contacted to determine the best method for providing support in their selection of adaptive equipment. Assistance during this process may take many forms including the sending of demonstration software for a trial period, having an applicant visit a demonstration center where they can try out equipment or sending a consumer support provider to the consumer's home to demonstrate equipment.

Once the equipment selection process is completed, the adaptive equipment is ordered and shipped to the consumer's home and they become sole owner. In conjunction with ordering the equipment the consumer is contacted to determine the level of support they will need in learning how to use the adaptive equipment. Training support can take many forms from advising the consumer of the support provided by the vendor; to providing support over the telephone; to sending a consumer support provider to the consumer's home to provide one-on-one instruction on using their adaptive equipment. As with the adaptive equipment the services provided through the TAP-I program are at no cost to qualified consumers of the program.

Basic qualification for the program include Missouri residency, a general household income of $60,000 for a two person household, ownership or access to a computer in the home and having internet service.

This workshop will review the legislation basis for the TAP-I program and an a description of the process and print materials which are used to support this statewide program. Included a description of who was involved in developing the basic program parameters; how the consumer support providers are recruited and trained; examples of the forms and support materials; the current state of the program and some of the lessons learned as the program was conceptualized and realized.

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