Funding Support for Assistive Technology in the UK
Technology has improved the quality of life for individuals who are blind or have low vision, offering solutions through apps and assistive technology devices that increase the accessibility of the world around them. However, assistive technology devices like the Envision Glasses often pose a financial challenge for many users.
Fortunately, in the United Kingdom, several organizations are dedicated to supporting individuals who are blind or have low vision. The government plays a crucial role by allocating funds to aid both students and working professionals who are blind or have low vision. For students, the Disabled Students' Allowance is available, while working professionals can benefit from the Access to Work program, which specifically addresses the needs of those requiring assistive technology. These initiatives ensure that financial constraints do not hinder individuals from accessing the assistive technology they need.
We compiled these invaluable resources that can help cover the costs of our life-changing tech in the United Kingdom, we also have a funding guide for the United States, which you find here.
The Disabled Students' Allowance
The Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA) is a UK government-funded program aimed at providing additional financial support for students with disabilities, including those who are blind or have low vision. Here's a summary of how the DSA can assist individuals with visual impairments in obtaining assistive technology devices for their studies:
- Eligibility is based on having a disability, long-term health condition, mental health condition, or specific learning difficulty that affects the ability to study.
- Individuals must be enrolled in an eligible higher education course in the UK.
Assistive Technology Support:
- The DSA can provide funding for assistive technology devices and software needed for academic studies.
- For individuals with visual impairments, this may include screen reading software, magnification software, braille displays, or other technologies to enhance accessibility.
- Students can apply for DSA through their respective funding body in the UK, such as Student Finance England, Student Finance Wales, Student Finance Northern Ireland, or the Student Awards Agency for Scotland.
- The application typically involves providing evidence of the disability and a needs assessment to determine the appropriate support.
- The funding provided by DSA is not means-tested, and there are no fixed limits on the amount a student can receive.
- Funding is determined on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration the individual's needs and the recommendations from the needs assessment.
- DSA may also cover other types of support, such as non-medical helper support, travel costs, and other specialized equipment or services.
- Students are encouraged to apply for DSA as early as possible to ensure that any necessary support is in place when the academic term begins.
It's important to note that program details can change, and individuals should check with their specific funding body or the official government websites for the most up-to-date information on eligibility criteria, the application process, and available support.
Find more information about The Disabled Students' Allowance here.
Access to work
Access to Work is a government-funded program in the United Kingdom designed to assist individuals with disabilities, including those who are blind or have low vision, in overcoming barriers to employment. Here is a summary of how the Access to Work program can help someone in this situation:
- Access to Work is available for individuals with disabilities, health conditions, or mental health conditions that affect their ability to work.
- Eligibility is not based on the type of disability but rather on how it impacts an individual's ability to perform their job.
Assistive Technology Support:
- The program can provide financial support for assistive technology devices and equipment needed in the workplace.
- For individuals who are blind or have low vision, this could include screen readers, magnification software, braille displays, or other technologies that enhance accessibility.
- To apply for Access to Work, individuals can contact the program directly or ask their employer to do so on their behalf.
- The application process typically involves an assessment by an Access to Work adviser who will work with the individual to identify their specific needs and recommend appropriate support.
- Access to Work provides grants to cover the costs of approved support services and equipment.
- The amount of funding is determined on a case-by-case basis and is based on the individual's needs, the type of support required, and other factors.
- The program can cover up to 100% of the costs for certain approved support services and equipment.
- Access to Work can also fund other types of support, such as workplace adaptations, travel costs, and support workers.
- The program is not means-tested, and individuals of any income level may be eligible.
It's important to note that program details may change, and individuals are encouraged to check the official Access to Work website or contact the program directly for the most up-to-date information on eligibility, the application process, and funding limits.
Find more information about Access to Work here.
If you find that you are not covered by government programmes to receive funding for assistive technology, there are also certain private organisations that help out users in need of funds for their assistive technology needs.
The Janki Saye Foundation
The Janki Saye Foundation grants assistive technology, including communication devices for those with speech and movement disabilities, and reading devices that empower people who are blind or have low vision.
The organization considers grant applications from individuals unable to afford assistive technologies, which encompass a range of software or hardware devices facilitating computer access for people with disabilities. These technologies can include specially designed or modified off-the-shelf products like electronic pointing devices, touch screens, screen readers, and text-to-speech devices, all aimed at aiding communication.
To request a Grant Application Form, individuals are encouraged to email the organization, providing basic details about the nature of their disability and the required assistive technology. A completed form, accompanied by a letter of evidence or assessment from a medical professional, Occupational Therapist, or Speech and Language Therapist (SALT), is necessary for the application.
Upon receiving all required information, the Trustees conduct a comprehensive assessment to determine eligibility for a grant. The duration for grant approval is contingent on the availability of existing funds or the need to initiate a fundraising campaign to secure the required financial support.
Find more information about Janki Saye Foundation here.
If your organization is interested in offering financial support to people who are blind or low-vision, enabling them to access life-changing assistive technology such as the Envision Glasses, please get in touch with us. We would be delighted to include your organization in our list of supporters.