How to: Unleash Your Assistive Technology Advocate
Assistive technology makes a world of difference to people with disabilities. At the same time, getting that life-changing technology often involves frustrating red tape that stretches from your doctor’s office to your insurance payor to the offices of state and federal lawmakers.
Laws and policies that prioritize better outcomes for people with disabilities and their families would be a great and much-needed move forward. But it takes a village of stakeholders to get that movement started. So how can you get involved? How can you learn about the issues that impact you and your family, and what’s the best way to make your voice heard?
Say Hello to NCART
The National Coalition for Assistive & Rehab Technology (NCART) is an organization of providers and manufacturers of Complex Rehab Technology (CRT), which includes the medically necessary, individually configured wheelchairs, seating/positioning systems, and other adaptive equipment like standing devices and gait trainers used by people with significant and chronic medical conditions. Their Web site is www.ncart.us.
Some common primary diagnoses that often require CRT are spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, ALS, spina bifida, brain injury and amputations.
NCART’s goal is to ensure that the people who need this equipment have access to it and to related services. NCART works with policy makers and lawmakers at state (Medicaid), federal (Medicare), and private insurance payor levels to educate them about how CRT produces better outcomes for people with disabilities and their families.
NCART collaborates with clinicians, consumers and consumer advocacy groups to protect access to the power and manual wheelchairs, standing frames, seating and positioning, and critical components/accessories that provide better outcomes for everyone involved.
How Can I Help?
The voice of the constituent — you! — is the most important voice of all to lawmakers. There are multiple ways you can help to improve and maintain optimal access to CRT:
- Learn the issues impacting CRT. Go to www.access2crt.org to get started. Watch a video about CRT, then read about consumer-related issues NCART is fighting for. Finally, sign up to get updates on access issues and Calls To Action.
- March on Washington, D.C., when NCART goes annually to Capitol Hill to speak to Representatives, Senators and their staffers. NCART is always looking for CRT users who can personally talk about how assistive technology impacts their lives.
- Network locally when your Representative and Senators are home during Congressional recesses. Forging personal relationships with lawmakers helps them to remember you when related bills need their support or their votes. Find out how to contact your Rep and Senators on the homepage of NCART’s Web site.
People with disabilities and their families are major influencers to lawmakers and policy makers. NCART’s free and easy-to-access support can help you share your experiences and hopes with the people who will help to determine CRT’s future. Your voice needs to be heard… loud and clear!