Monthly Archives: January 2016

What Home Adaptations Would Help You?


By Brenda Henige, Michigan Assistive Technology Loan Fund (MATLF) Coordinator, United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) of Michigan staff

Do you have a disability and need some type of assistive technology to improve your functioning? You may need a modified vehicle or a home modification for accessibility. Residents of Michigan who have a disability or their family members can apply to borrow money from the Michigan Assistive Technology Loan Fund (MATLF) to obtain needed equipment or tools (assistive technology or AT), modified vehicles or modifications to a vehicle, or home modifications for accessibility through this program.

man in manual wheelchair pulling down a rod in a closetThe program provides loans for home modifications as long as they will increase the applicant’s accessibility within the house, apartment, or on the property, such as installation of ramps, roll-in showers, or other modifications. Individuals with hearing, vision, or other disabilities may benefit from various modifications to improve accessibility within their homes.

An individual may apply to borrow up to $30,000 and there is no minimum amount required to borrow since many home modifications may cost hundreds of dollars or much less than the maximum allowed. Here are two home modifications that MATLF approved last year:

An individual who has a mobility disability and uses a wheelchair was able to obtain modifications to his home’s bathroom, including having the doorways widened and installing an adapted shower so he can shower without assistance. MATLF loan enabled him to get around in his bathroom using his wheelchair and to shower on his own. The counter tops are now lower and drawers are located where he can reach them.

MATLF approved an accessible breezeway to connect an individual’s home to his garage. This included a ramp and plenty of room for his wheelchair to pass through. With this loan, he is now able to go to his garage where he does woodworking projects. His relative commented that this has changed his personality. Now he can go to his garage workshop whenever he wants to and spends a lot of time there working on his projects.

As the new loan fund coordinator, I have seen that this program which allows people with disabilities to borrow money to improve their independence and productivity really does empower them to accomplish more and to truly be more independent.

Please contact me for more information on the loan program at or at . You may also view loan fund information by going to our website and clicking on the link “Assistive Technology”.

Note: More information about funding for home modifications can also be found in MATP’s Funding Strategy!


Looking for AT in Michigan? Use the Assistive Technology Directory!


The Michigan AT Directory will help you to find resources, products and professionals related to Assistive Technology. You can search by the following categories:

Sales/Rentals/Loans: Not sure what you need? This section includes links to resources to help you decide. Know what you are looking for? Find Michigan-based vendors who sell, rent or provide loans of the equipment, devices and Assistive software you need. You can search by zip code to find a vendor close to you. You’ll also find links to search national websites for what you need and links to articles to help you be a good consumer when acquiring AT.

Financing/Funding: Find possible financial solutions to purchase equipment, related supports, and home modifications.

Evaluation/Assessment: Having a good assessment or evaluation can help you determine the best AT for you and what you need. This link will provide you with more information about getting a good assessment and where to find a Michigan-based professional who can evaluate your AT needs. This section also includes links to information about national directories and standards for a good assessment.

Repair/Maintenance: Find Michigan-based businesses to repair or provide regular maintenance services for your devices/equipment.

Home Modification: Alterations you make to your home to make it easier for you/someone you live with who has a disability to use. These include small items like adding grab bars, to more complex modifications of building ramps, expanding doorways, configuring a kitchen or bathroom, adding an extension, or installing stair lifts or ceiling mounted lift systems. You’ll also find links for more information about funding your home modification.

You can also check boxes with additional search terms to narrow down your search and enter your zip code to find resources within specified miles from your home.

If you are a company based in Michigan who offers assistive technology products or services, you can add your listing to the great resource! Just sign up for an account, add your information and we’ll review and post it as long as appears to fit our directory. Be sure to give us good contact information in case we have questions.

So I hope you will check out the AT Directory! Let us know what you think!


Funding Your Accessible Vehicle


By MATP Staff Member Laura Hall

Silver side entry van. A woman in a wheelchair is on the ramp, with a man standing beside

Of all the assistive technology related inquries we receive at the Michigan Assistive Technology Program, questions related to funding accessible vehicles are by far the most prevelent.  It’s not suprising, given that these types of vehicles can be quite costly (up to $60,000 or more depending on the type of equipment needed.) Transportation is critical to independent living in the community, and for those areas without access to public transportation, an accessible vehicle may be the only option. People often ask if there is a grant program pay for the entire vehicle, the simple answer is: in most cases, unfortunately not (if I ever win the Powerball such a fund is at the top of my list.)

However, there are programs available to help defray the costs of buying an accessible vehicle, find a used vehicle that is already modified, or establish funding where manageable payments can be made.

  1. A great place to start researching funding resources is our funding strategy.  This guide covers how to determine what AT devices/equipment are best for you, how to find a vendor, funding resources, and much more.
  2. If you are a veteran, the Veteran’s Administration offers a one-time vehicle allowance up to $20,114.34.  According to their website the VA may also assist with modifications.
  3. The Michigan Assistive Technology Loan Program, through United Cerebral Palsy of Michigan offers loans (possibily  at a lower rate than you can get through a bank,) to qualified applicants specifically for the purchase of assistive technology.  This link above will provide you with more information (the application is available online.)  You can also contact Brenda Henige, the Program Manager at 1-800-828-2714.
  4. The Ralph Braun Foundation operates on funding cycles.  The typical cycle will be open for one month and the application process must be completed online.  Awarded applicants will receive up to 25% of the cost of the actual mobility transportation equipment with a cap of $5,000.  This program is directed to people who have accumulated most of the money needed to fund the project and just need some help to bridge the gap in achieving their goal.  If the selected equipment is a wheelchair accessible vehicle, the grant would cover up to 25% of the cost of the vehicle conversion or wheelchair lift.  Funds may not be applied toward the purchase of the actual vehicle.
  5. There may be some funding resources locally in your community. Your local Center for Independent Living (Disability Network) is the best resource for learning about local funding resources.
  6.  ATXChange has free online classified ads site for used assistive technology, including accessible vehicles, and equipment that could be added to a vehicle.  If you can’t find what you are looking for, you can post it as an item wanted and receive an email message telling you if and when someone posts the item.
  7. A similar website is
  8. We held a webinar on accessible vehicles that outlines all the things to consider when purchasing an adapted vehicle. There is a resource page at the end which includes some funding resources.
  9. Most of the major auto manufacturers offer  mobility rebate programs, that apply when you purchase a new vehicle and need to purchase equipment to make it accessible or provide access to the driver.
  10. Churches, clubs and other organizations you might be affiliated with can sometimes help with this kind of thing too.  Oftentimes, people also choose to hold fundraisers or crowdsourcing campaigns, such as GoFundMe.

Finding funding for accessible vehicles can be difficult, but not impossible.  If you have any questions about these resources or vehicle funding, you are welcome to call me at 1-800-760-4600 x 328 or email [email protected] to discuss your particular situation.


New Grocery Store Service Becomes AT


By Aimee Sterk, LMSW, MATP

Many products originally designed as assistive technology (AT) for people with disabilities have become mainstream conveniences everyone enjoys—automatic doors, text to speech/speech to text. Now our regional grocery superstore, Meijer, is offering curbside pickup, a service that is be great AT for people with disabilities. The service is currently offered at five locations in Michigan and four locations in Ohio.

a wire shopping basket filled to the brim with fruits and vegetables

Meijer has developed an online portal that lists almost every item in their store. Customers can use the portal to shop and then pick a time to arrive to pick up their order at the curbside. No hassling with blocked aisles, items on too-high shelves, crowds, or confusion to manage. I’ve used this service myself two times now and really appreciate it. Older adults, people with physical disabilities, people with young families, and people with agoraphobia/social phobia/PTSD or other mental health disabilities can really benefit from not having to get out of the car and go into the store. I know, for myself, I have to have many spoons at the ready and mentally prepare myself for the onslaught of busy shoppers before I go into Meijer—and I try to pick times with very few people. In fact, just looking at and picking out the pictures below brought on anxiety.

overhead view of very crowded grocery aisles


the front end of a grocery store with mobs of people trying samples and waiting to check out







Curbside pick up to the rescue! For the first month, this new service was free. Now it costs $5. I’ve written to Meijer to see if they waive this fee for people with disabilities and/or low income and will post an update when I hear back.

With the push for same-day delivery from Amazon and to-your-door delivery of organic groceries or farm vegetables, this is a great, locally-based alternative that meets needs, a mainstream convenience that can also be AT.

What services or devices help you with your grocery shopping?