Saturday, April 23, 2011

Finding Money for Telework and Business Starts for the Disabled

A constant question that runs across my desk is “all the grant money that is out there for disabled people to start businesses.” Once again, there is an ounce of truth lying under a ton of baloney. There have indeed been grants given for self-employment for the disabled, but once again, they've been given to state, local, and regional nonprofits and government agencies to create programs for the disabled. They can be identified by finding groups that have received funds from the Assistive Technology Act of 1998 and Access to Telework Loan programs (money for adaptive equipment that makes it possible for the disabled to work from home).
And these grant-receiving groups have mostly created programs that provide low-interest loans, as opposed to grants, for disabled consumers.  There are occasional exceptions, but that's mostly the rule.

Also remember a couple of things: first, this is federal funding that can change from year to year, and even disappear, depending on the whims of politicians. So if you are a big supporter of cutting federal funding for “all that useless crap?” Remember that this might be one of the things considered "useless crap." Also, the organizations themselves can run out of funds, as individuals seek money for their needs.

That having been said, here’s a list of state organizations that have received money from these funding streams, courtesy of RESNA (the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America ). This is clearly an old link, because many of the links within it are dead. The root links to organizations are o.k., but the links to particular programs are dead, meaning that the state organizational websites have changed, but RESNA did not check and update. So, when you run across a dead link, just backspace until you get the website of the organization, then click it on and search for the low-cost loan program, or contact the organization via the phone or email information provided. (I dunno. That could be outdated, too). But once you have identified the organizations that have received these federal funds, you’re in fat city, because you can then google them to find their current website and program information. For a more exhaustive listing of statewide programs that work in providing adaptive equipment programs for the disabled, including equipment loans, see this RESNA list.  As a bonus, here's a link with a list of grantees to the telework programs.  These organizations may have funds to help disabled people who need resources to do telework.

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