Posted by ICAN on January 17, 2003 at 22:22:03:
In Reply to: How to successfully implement assistive technology? posted by D. Gerard on January 20, 2002 at 20:53:03:
SELECTING, BUYING, AND MAINTAINING ADAPTIVE EQUIPMENT OR WHAT TO DO BEFORE YOU BUY?
Source: ICAN (Increasing Capabilities Access Network)
People with disabilities often are surrounded by the need for technology. Some things, like large-button telephones and straws, are readily available and fairly inexpensive. But others, like power wheelchairs, computers and communication devices, are not easily obtained, understood or serviced.
As a user of technology, you need to find ways to rent, borrow or purchase these items as inexpensively as possible and know how to care for them once you have them. For the purposes of this brochure, an assistive technology device is any item used to maintain or improve a person's functional capabilities.
BEFORE YOU BUY.......A SCORE OF FACTORS
Just like the childhood games of twenty questions, you can never ask too many questions before you purchase an expensive item. Here are some questions to help you get started! Ask these questions of the manufacturer, equipment dealer, therapist, or even your local hospital or health department. If they don't know, they may be able to tell you who to call. Be sure and talk to anyone you know who has the same or similar item!
HAVE YOU CONSIDERED?
* WHAT BREAKS MOST OFTEN AND HOW EASY IS IT TO FIX?
* HOW OFTEN DOES IS BREAK?
* IS IT WORTH THE PRICE?
* HOW LONG WILL IT LAST?
* DOES IT HAVE TO BE PUT TOGETHER?
* HOW IS IT MAINTAINED?
* DOES IT DO WHAT THE MANUFACTURER CLAIMS?
* ARE THERE ANY OPTIONS ON THE ITEM?
* IS IT AVAILABLE ANYWHERE ELSE?
* IS IT HARD TO LEARN TO USE?
* IS IT COMFORTABLE?
* IS IT SAFE?
* CAN IT BE EASILY STOLEN?
* IS IT PORTABLE?
* CAN IT BE REPAIRED LOCALLY?
* DO THEY HAVE THE COLOR, SIZE, WEIGHT, ETC., THAT I WANT?
The same people can also give you hints on how to obtain funding. While private insurance is still the main funding source for assistive technology, there is limited public funding available in certain situations. If you cannot afford equipment, be sure to ask your doctor, hospital, therapist or local social service agency for assistance. Your county DHS office may also be able to help. Also, consider ICAN's equipment exchange listing, which could help you buy, sell, or trade with others.
WHAT IF SOMETHING GOES WRONG?
So now you have the equipment you need and something goes wrong. A product that requires expert service or repair can often become an inconvenience rather than an aid, so be sure to check carefully on your options for warranties and service contracts available on any equipment you purchase. If you are buying a new piece of equipment, you might want to ask about a service contract, a type of repair insurance that is sometimes referred to as an extended warranty.
This type of contract usually becomes effective after the new-product warranty expires. Consumer protection varies by product, manufacturer and state law. A contract may limit the number of repairs and could require a minimum payment for service calls. It may not pay for house calls, or require that you send the equipment to the manufacturer for repair. You need to plan for these events, so be sure to understand your choices before you buy. Also, if you must have a replacement for the items if broken, ask the manufacturer if loaners are available.
REMEMBER : If you purchase new equipment and you alter or modify the equipment to suit your needs this many times voids your warranty.
If you are purchasing used equipment, you need to be sure your insurance will cover used equipment and, if possible, get a copy of the warranty and the instruction manual from the previous owner. Ask about service in the past, where it was obtained and if it has any problems that need attention. Remember, local sources can be a help to you, such as a service station, welding shop, or your local computer store.
There are many ways for you to obtain assistance, and we've listed just a few places to start. Always check your local phone book for information specific to your community, and work with people closest to you whenever possible. People in your hometown will know about local repair and loaner equipment that may be available.
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