SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today announced that the Department of Human Services (DHS) has been awarded $2.25 million from the U.S. Department of Education to establish the TechConnect Low Interest Loan Program.
“I am pleased that Illinois has been selected to receive this federal award," Governor Ryan said. "The money will supplement our existing efforts to ensure that persons with disabilities can acquire the assistive technologies they need to lead active, productive lives.”
The TechConnect Low Interest Loan Program is designed to help Illinois residents with disabilities who are not eligible for traditional loans to purchase assistive technologies. The program offers low interest rates and repayment plans to people who may not have had the ability to finance assistive technology. Assistive technologies encompass a wide range of devices including, but not limited to, wheelchairs, scooters, ramps, lifts, magnifiers, hearing aids, adapted driving controls and specialized computers.
“The state’s Assistive Technology Program has grown substantially in the past several years and we needed additional resources to help meet the demand for assistive devices,” said DHS Secretary Linda Reneé Baker. “I am thrilled that DHS was able to capture this federal grant to better respond to requests from persons with disabilities for this type of assistance.”
Since taking office, Governor Ryan has overseen more than $345 million dollars to help persons with disabilities return to work. Important rehabilitation, job training and educational services often make the difference in helping a person with disabilities secure employment. For fiscal year 2001, the number of persons with disabilities who have entered into competitive employment has dramatically increased. More than 6,700 people were placed into competitive employment, a 25 percent increase over the number placed in fiscal year 2000.
The grant award will be managed by DHS' Office of Rehabilitation Services (ORS). Partnering with ORS on this initiative include the Illinois Assistive Technology Project; Illinois Network of Centers for Independent Living; Centers for Independent Living; Town and Country Bank in Springfield; Marucco, Stoddard, Ferenbach & Walch, Inc. Information System Consultants; Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities in Illinois and the Statewide Living Council of Illinois.