Did you know that the majority of assistive technology is paid for out of pocket by the assistive technology user? One would expect it to be covered by insurance or some other benefit, but more likely than not it is paid for out of pocket. Many people do not have a spare $5,000 lying around for a pair of hearing aids or $2,000 for a medicare co-pay on a wheelchair or $25,000 for a modified van. That is where the Washington Access Fund comes in to break these large expenses into affordable monthly payments.

The Washington Access Fund is a local nonprofit and Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that works to provide economic opportunity and assistive technology to people with disabilities. They want to make sure that people can afford the assistive technology they need at work, at play and in the community. They do this with two different asset development products: Microloans and Individual Development Accounts (matched savings accounts).

Assistive Technology Microloans can be used to purchase all types of assistive technology including recreational equipment and home and vehicle modifications. The loans are available at a 5% interest rate for up to $25,000 with terms typically ranging up to 5 years.

The Access Fund staff works with applicants to find an affordable payment that works within their budget. 89% of their clients last year lived on less than 80% of the median income for Washington State. Worried about your credit? Although the Access Fund does take credit into consideration when reviewing an application, they do have a special understanding for the sort of financial impact a disability can have since they are an organization created by and for people with disabilities.

The Individual Development Account Program is a matched savings program that helps people plan ahead and save for future technology needs. Every dollar saved is matched with a dollar from the Access Fund. Save a dollar – get a dollar! Savers set a savings goal to purchase a particular type of assistive technology. Once the goal is met, they use their savings and the added match to make the purchase.

Aside from helping people with disabilities purchase the assistive technology they need, the Washington Access Fund also helps people with disabilities start and grow small businesses. They offer a remote business planning course quarterly, small business loans and small business IDA accounts in which savers set a goal to save for equipment related to their business.

To learn more or complete an application visit their website at washingtonaccessfund.org or call 206-328-5116.