October 26, 2004
New Mexico Public Education Department
300 Don Gaspar
Santa Fe, NM 87501-2786

Ruth Williams
Legislative Liaison/PIO
(505) 827-7803 or 988-0582 pager
rwilliams@ped.state.nm.us

President Signs Assistive Technology Act
Victory for Millions of People with Disabilities Who Strive for Independence

(Washington, DC) President Bush yesterday signed the Assistive Technology Act of 2004, which will ensure that individuals with disabilities throughout the US and its territories have access to the technology they need to help them be independent in school, at home, the workplace and in the community. This legislation represents an important commitment to people with disabilities from the President and the Congress.

Millions of people with disabilities rely on assistive technology to help them gain and maintain independence. Every state and US territory has an Assistive Technology Act Program (AT Program) funded under the provisions of the Technology-Related Assistance Act of 1988. Legislation supporting the State AT Programs was scheduled to sunset on September 30, 2004. The AT Act of 2004 supports the continuance of State AT Programs and eliminates the sunset provision. By eliminating the sunset provision, the government sent a clear signal that it supports a federal investment for people with disabilities, which will pay off for communities, the economy, businesses and people with disabilities.

“The impressive bi-partisan effort of Congress to ensure the continuation of these vital programs is heartening for people with disabilities and the programs that serve them,” said Deborah Buck, Executive Director, and Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs. “We are so pleased with the bipartisan bi-cameral leadership of Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA), Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), Rep. Dale Kildee (D-MI), Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH), Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM). When the Congress puts aside partisanship in order to address the needs of people with disabilities, it is a victory for all Americans.”

The New Mexico Technology Assistance Program has provided services for persons of all ages with disabilities since 1991. The program is part of the Public Education Department and operated out of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. Individuals needing assistive technologies can call toll free at 1-800-866-2253. Assistive technology includes devices such as wheelchairs, communication aids and services such as rehabilitation engineering and physical, speech and occupational therapy.