FFY 2023 Oklahoma ABLE Tech Annual Report

A Great Return on Investment

With only a $504,673 federal investment, Oklahoma ABLE Tech programs and services saved people in Oklahoma $4.18 million. 


About Oklahoma ABLE Tech

Oklahoma ABLE Tech is the statewide Assistive Technology (AT) Act Program, funded through the Administration for Community Living (ACL) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, made possible through the Assistive Technology Act of 1998, as amended in 2022 (ATA 2022). 

Oklahoma ABLE Tech’s mission is to improve the lives of Oklahomans by providing increased access to and acquisition of needed assistive technology devices and services, digital accessibility services, advocacy, and education. 

An AT device is any piece of equipment or device used to improve the capabilities of people with disabilities. An AT service directly assists an individual with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an AT device. 

ABLE Tech provides AT through the following comprehensive, consumer-responsive statewide Core Programs and services:

  • Device Demonstration
  • Device Loan
  • Device Reutilization
  • Financial Loan
  • State Leadership activities

A Quick Look - FFY 2023

This report for Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2023 includes data and activities from October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023. 

  • $504,673 federal investment in Oklahoma ABLE Tech
  • $1.49 million received in additional contracted leveraged funding
  • More than 38,702 direct service recipients
  • More than $4.18 million in savings and benefits

With more than $1.49 million in additional leveraged funding through support programs. 


Oklahoma State University Department of Wellness Sponsored Programs  

The Oklahoma State University Department of Wellness Sponsored Programs (OSU DOWSP) is the lead agency for Oklahoma ABLE Tech. 

Staff Contributing in FFY 2023

  • Todd Misener, Assistant Vice President & Chief Wellness Officer 
  • Allyson Robinson, Director of Accessibility Programs 
  • Austin Bricker, Device Reutilization Program Senior Administrative Support Specialist 
  • Richard Buntin, DOWSP Fiscal Operations Specialist 
  • Gretchen Cole-Lade, State Leadership Program Specialist 
  • Leslie Dady, DOWSP Administrative Operations Specialist 
  • Shelley Gladden, Assistant Director, Assistive Technology Core Programs 
  • Brent Greyson, Instructional Design & Accessibility Specialist 
  • Peyton Haley, Accessible Communications Coordinator 
  • Terri Harris, DOWSP Senior Administrative Support Specialist 
  • Joshua Hawkins, Assistant Director, Assistive Technology in Education 
  • Stephanie Hesser, Financial Loan Program Specialist 
  • Averie Lucas, Speech-Language Pathologist & Device Demonstration and Loan Programs Manager 
  • Lyssa Prince, Assistant Director, Digital Accessibility 
  • Natalie Rohwer, Financial Loan Program Manager 
  • Louise Ruleford, Device Demonstration and Loan Programs Specialist 
  • Shelby Sanders, Assistive Technology Specialist 
  • Brian Sargent, Device Reutilization Program Site Coordinator 
  • Adam Thiel, Digital Accessibility Program Coordinator 
  • Amy Woods, Occupational Therapy Assistant 
  • Kim Young, Device Reutilization Program Specialist 
  • Michele Young, DOWSP Fiscal Grant Manager 

FFY 2023 Key Initiatives 

State Level Activities

Device Demonstration Program

Device demonstrations result in informed decision-making about which AT will and will not meet an individual’s disability needs and prevent wasted expenditures on ‘mismatched’ AT. 

For example, if an individual explores two electronic magnification devices and decides that one is a better solution than the other, they have potentially saved significant money by learning the other device they explored would not meet their needs and avoiding an incidental purchase.  

Through Oklahoma ABLE Tech’s Device Demonstration Program, 8,504 demonstrations were provided to 14,431 individuals in FFY 2023. Estimating a modest $50 savings for each demonstration adds up to a statewide savings of at least $425,200.


Device Loan Program

Short-term device loans result in informed and accurate AT purchasing decisions, especially in contexts like classrooms or workplaces. When an educator or employer can borrow a device and make sure it will allow the individual with a disability to be successful, they save money by avoiding ‘incorrect’ purchases. Short-term device loans also allow individuals to maintain independence while a device is being repaired, preventing costly loss of wages, lost school days, or the need for increased community living supports. 

Through Oklahoma ABLE Tech’s Device Loan Program, 4,350 devices were loaned to 2,573 individuals or agencies in FFY 2023 for a total savings of $2,190,780. 

  • 1,914 loans helped individuals decide about an AT device. Assuming an average savings of $1,000 per loan with multiple devices associated (at least one device was rejected as being a match and a second one was borrowed) results in statewide savings of more than $1,914,000. 
  • 659 loans served as a temporary solution while an individual waited for a repair or funding, to provide short-term accommodations, and/or to conduct training, self-education, or other professional development activities. Projecting a minimum $10 per day rental fee for the average loan period (from one day up to six weeks) results in a total savings of $276,780. 

Device Reutilization Program

The Device Reutilization Program supports the reuse and exchange of durable medical equipment (DME) and AT that is no longer needed or used by its original owner. Recipients of devices through the Reutilization Program obtain equipment at no cost to them, and the Exchange Program facilitates person-to-person sales, typically for significantly lower cost or no cost compared to buying brand-new equipment. 

Reutilization efforts include retrieval, refurbishment, repair, and reassignment of DME and AT. Throught the Device Reutilization Program, 1,479 individuals received 1,711 devices for a total savings to Oklahomans of $368,338. 

Exchange efforts include the transfer of AT devices from person to person. 221 individuals received 300 exchanged devices for total savings to Oklahomans of $40,204. 

In total, 1,258 Oklahomans acquired 1,411 gently used devices through Oklahoma ABLE Tech device reutilization and exchange programs in FFY 2023 for a savings of $328,134. 


Financial Loan Program

The Financial Loan Program provides Oklahomans with affordable, flexible borrowing options. In FFY 2023, 140 borrowers obtained financial loans totaling $1,161,687 to fund 260 AT devices, pieces of durable medical equipment (DME), home modifications, or vehicle modifications.  

The Financial Loan Program also oversees various alternative financing activities. Through the Low-Tech AT project, 56 individuals obtained 71 3D-printed devices worth $613. Through the Vending iPad project, in partnership with the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, 46 Speech Generating Devices (SGDs) valued at $36,585 were distributed to qualified Medicaid recipients. 


State Leadership Activities

These programs support efforts that include instructional training, information and assistance (I&A), public awareness, and technical assistance activities. Data is specifically collected on training and I&A. 

  • 3,263 individuals received in-person/virtual training on topics including AT devices and services, funding, and digital accessibility.
  • 16,492 individuals received I&A via phone, email, video call, or other virtual platform in FFY 2023. 

Coordination & Collaboration

Leveraged Funding

Oklahoma ABLE Tech maintains collaboration efforts with organizations that provide additional funding to enhance opportunities for individuals to access and acquire needed AT. 

  • National Center on Accessible Educational Materials
  • Oklahoma Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) 
    • Central Oklahoma Economic Development District (COEDD) 
    • Indian Nation Council of Governments (INCOG) 
    • Kiamchi Economic Development District (KEDDO)
  • Oklahoma Assistive Technology Foundation (OkAT) 
  • Oklahoma Department of Human Services, Developmental Disabilities Services (DDS) 
  • Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) 
  • Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) 
  • Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) 
  • Southwest Americans with Disabilities Act Center (SW ADA) 

Collaboration Highlights 

Oklahoma Human Services logo.

Oklahoma Department of Human Services, Developmental Disabilities Services (DDS)

In 2023, DDS Home and Community Based Waiver Services implemented the coverage of assistive technology, enabling devices, and remote services. In anticipation of this, Oklahoma ABLE Tech collaborated with DDS to provide additional training and exploration of assistive technology, enabling devices, and remote support services to DDS. Three Smart Home Demonstrations sites were created to provide in-depth training and exploration of AT options available to individuals to successfully stay or maintain independence in their home. This effort greatly expanded ABLE Tech’s demonstration and training efforts while providing additional support from and collaboration with DDS. Watch this video to learn more about our collaborations with DDS.

Logo - National Center on Accessible Educational Materials

National Center on Accessible Educational Materials

Oklahoma ABLE Tech led Oklahoma’s AEM cohort through year three of the four-year project to improve access to literacy and educational opportunities for individuals across the lifespan. The core state-level AEM leadership team includes representatives from the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE), the Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM) Center at the Oklahoma Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Liberty Braille, Decoding Dyslexia Oklahoma, Byng Public Schools, Oklahoma School for the Blind, and Oklahoma ABLE Tech.  

The cohort completed significant work analyzing current systems and amplifying the impact of available resources through marketing and informational campaigns. Materials related specifically to AEM were developed and disseminated. We are excited to continue supporting Oklahomans, specifically students, through our collaborative partnership with the agencies represented on the AEM leadership team. 

KEDDO logo.
Central Oklahoma Economic Development District Logo
INCOG Area Agency on Aging

Oklahoma Area Agencies on Aging (AAA)

In FFY 2023, Oklahoma ABLE Tech actively sought partnerships and collaborations to support the demand for equipment offered through the Device Reutilization Program. Through investing time and exploring existing relationships, ABLE Tech was able to identify dynamic partnerships with three Oklahoma Area Agency on Aging (AAA) programs that have resulted in a positive impact to the Device Reutilization Program:

  • Central Oklahoma Economic Development District (COEDD)
  • Indian Nations Council of Governments (INCOG)
  • Kiamichi Economic Development District of Oklahoma (KEDDO)

ABLE Tech collaborated with these three AAAs to use special grant funds provided through the Masonic Charity Foundation of Oklahoma. The AAAs receive the Masonic grant funds to support Oklahoma seniors as they age in place in their homes. 

The funds were used to provide needed AT and DME to the Device Reutilization Program for individuals who reside in the AAAs' service territories – a combined 17 counties in Oklahoma. These collaborations resulted in an additional $25,000 to support the provision of needed DME, AT, and related equipment at no cost to Oklahoma seniors.  

Logo - Oklahoma Assistive Technology Foundation

Oklahoma Assistive Technology Foundation (OkAT)

Since its inception in 2001, OkAT has partnered with ABLE Tech to assist Oklahomans with disabilities in getting the assistive technology and durable medical equipment they need. OkAT's primary mission is to promote community development by providing services to Oklahomans with disabilities of all ages and their family members, advocates, and authorized representatives or entities. Those services increase understanding, access to, and acquisition of needed AT through financial loans, financial education, and other identified resources. The collaboration results in the successful implementation of ABLE Tech’s Financial Loan Program and other alternative acquisition activities. The great work of the program could not be achieved without this partnership!

In 2023, OkAT applied for and received a $20,000 grant from the Oklahoma City Community Foundation and its Services for the Elderly iFund grant program. The grant funds were used to provide individuals age 65 and older in the Oklahoma City metro area with AT and DME which specifically assists them in being more independent by increasing functional mobility and helping them complete daily living activities. In addition to helping seniors gain and maintain independence, accessing and using AT and DME can improve safety, decrease the need for caregiver assistance, and improve overall quality of life. 

Logo - Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services

Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services (DRS)

Our partnership with DRS supports our efforts to provide training and technical assistance to targeted audiences through many different collaborations, including the Oklahoma Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES), the Oklahoma Office of Workforce Development (OOWD), the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education (OSRHE), the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE), and the Southwest Americans with Disabilities Act Center (SW ADA). These activities build capacity statewide.  

Through these collaborations, agencies and organizations have improved service delivery, and Oklahomans with disabling conditions have greater equity and more timely access to information from DRS, services, and educational, employment, or community opportunities. Additional funding support from DRS goes to the Oklahoma ABLE Tech Financial Loan Program, helping individuals with disabilities purchase needed AT and DME with low-interest loans. 

Logo - Oklahoma Health Care Authority

Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA)

Oklahoma ABLE Tech’s Device Reutilization Program is possible through the financial and programmatic support of OHCA, Oklahoma’s Medicaid (SoonerCare) agency. Through increased collaboration, greater communication is occurring with SoonerCare members which should lead to many more successful matches of appropriate DME! 

Through an ongoing agreement with OHCA, Oklahoma ABLE Tech is a designated provider of Speech-Generating Devices (SGDs), specifically vending iPads, communication apps, cases, and accessories to eligible SoonerCare members. During FFY 2023 ABLE Tech facilitated the acquisition of 46 iPads as SGDs for Oklahomans through this collaboration. The iPads allow individuals who were previously unable to communicate due to disabilities or conditions such as childhood apraxia of speech, Down syndrome, and autism to express their needs, wants, thoughts, and so much more. 

Logo - Oklahoma State Department of Education

Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE)

OSDE collaborates with Oklahoma ABLE Tech on all major Core Program and State Leadership activities to better serve students with disabilities and the administrators, educators, and related service providers who support them. Leveraged funds from OSDE are used each year to increase the Device Demonstration and Short-Term Loan Programs’ device inventory and provide training, technical assistance, public awareness, and information and assistance to school administrators, educators, related service providers, and families. These activities are of direct benefit to students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, infants and toddlers receiving SoonerStart early intervention services, and their families. In FFY 2023, 195 representatives of education participated in device demonstrations, 476 borrowed AT for short-term loans, and 1,296 participated in trainings facilitated by ABLE Tech staff. Training topics included available AT devices and services, funding options, and digital accessibility. 

Every year, OSDE provides funding for Oklahoma ABLE Tech’s premier web and digital accessibility conference, TechAccess Oklahoma. The 8th annual TechAccess Oklahoma conference was held virtually from April 18-20, 2023. The conference featured nine sessions led by accessibility experts from across the country. More than 180 people attended each session, on average, which is the largest live attendance to date. Participants learned how to test websites for accessibility, write good image descriptions, procure accessible technology, and many other actionable skills. 

Logo - Southwest Americans with Disabilities Act Center

Southwest Americans with Disabilities Act (SW ADA) Center 

In FFY 2023, Oklahoma ABLE Tech collaborated with the SW ADA Center on multiple projects surrounding our efforts to advance digital accessibility statewide. First, The SW ADA Center supports the work Oklahoma ABLE Tech completes to ensure compliance with Oklahoma’s Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility (EITA) law. Their support helps us work with the entities affected by the EITA law, which are state agencies, higher education institutions, the Career Tech system, and the Workforce system.

The SW ADA Center also supports the Oklahoma ABLE Tech course catalog, which contains self-paced courses on digital accessibility topics and was released in FFY 2023. At the end of this fiscal year, there were nine courses in the catalog, addressing topics like introduction to assistive technology and digital accessibility and creating accessible Microsoft PowerPoint presentations. The goal of these courses is to help more Oklahomans learn asynchronously than could be trained via live events presented by the small staff at ABLE Tech. The courses also enhance the in-person trainings the Digital Accessibility Program team provides. By hiring an instructional designer using Public Health Workforce funds, ABLE Tech now has the ability to design courses that encourage true behavior change, creating a potentially huge ripple effect across all of the environments learners are in, including employment. 

Upon completion, each learner has the opportunity to complete an anonymous survey. Feedback includes: 

    • "This course was jam-packed with a lot of useful information! I especially appreciate the practical examples." – Describing Complex Images 
    • "I thought this course was easy to navigate and found it to be very informative. I do know a little bit about AT and digital accessibility, but I learned several new things in this course that I will take with me into my professional environments." - It Depends: Different Issues, Different Solutions 
    • "This course was extremely helpful! Practicing with the unformatted document was a wonderful learning tool. I learned aspects of Word that I was not familiar with (modifying headings and charts and creating table of contents). I may go through it again to practice more! Thank you so much!" - Accessibility in Microsoft Word  

Spotlight on Success

Device Demonstration – Community Living 

Sue is an older light-skinned woman with short grey hair. She is wearing magnifying glasses as she looks off to the side. Sue, from Oklahoma County, received a demonstration of low vision equipment through one of ABLE Tech’s Device Demonstration Program partners, NewView Oklahoma. ABLE Tech partners with various organizations across the state to increase outreach and service availability for Oklahomans to trial and learn about AT. Sue received low vision support services, including a device demonstration, to increase skills and knowledge in hopes to regain her independence. Sue lives a very active lifestyle, enjoying quilting, reading, and attending church with friends. 

During the demonstration of wearable magnifying glasses, Sue jumped right in to implementing and utilizing the AT demonstrated to her. She said, “Using this device changes everything for me!” and said she was excited be of more help to her quilting group using her new tools! 


Device Loan Program – Employment 

Tarik is a 42-year-old DRS client. He has hearing loss and wears a cochlear bone conduction hearing aid attached to a headband. Tarik spends about 30% of his workday speaking to clients with the Interactive Voice Response computer program, which allows humans to interact with a computer operated phone system using voice and other input. He tried regular Shokz bone conducting headphones, but felt the Bluetooth and audio were not good quality

Thanks to collaborative efforts between the DRS Assistive Technology Unit and ABLE Tech, Tarik borrowed a Shokz OpenComm UC headset with an external microphone, a Loop 100 wireless adapter, and USB adapter. The adapters ensure direct, dependable, and instant connection and offers Tarik access to more devices. Tarik was very pleased with the loan from ABLE Tech and knows this product will work in his place of employment. His goal is to provide the best client care possible with the use of this headset. 

A man with olive skin and dark hair and a beard, shoots a thumbs up and a smile at the camera as he shows off his new headset!

 


Device Reutilization – Education

Briggs is a young light-skinned boy with short brown hair and glasses. He is using his purple posterior pediatric walker in a parking lot.As Briggs recovered from surgery to address his bilateral clubfoot relapse, he borrowed leg braces and a posterior pediatric walker from Oklahoma ABLE Tech's Device Reutilization Program. The devices increased not only his safety but his independence at home, school, and in his community. Briggs was proud to demonstrate that he could be independent around the house, at school, and in the community with the assistance of a walker to help him get around safelyBriggs mom reported that with the help of the walker, Briggs was able to return to school and is doing well.


Financial Loan – Education & Community Living 

Calyssa was looking for an affordable loan to purchase a wheelchair-accessible vehicle. She struggled to get her daughter Sienna, who hasSienna is a young light-skinned girl in a pink and black wheelchair. She looks at the camera and smiles as she is waiting on the wheelchair lift of her family's new accessible vehicle. cerebral palsy, in and out of her existing vehicle. The Oklahoma ABLE Tech Financial Loan Program team helped Calyssa purchase a van that allows her to take Sienna and her siblings to parks, school, and appointments safely. 

Calyssa said, “No one else would finance this vehicle at a reasonable rate. I am forever grateful for this life-changing program.”  

The ABLE Tech Financial Loan Program’s low interest rate helps make needed assistive technology purchases affordable. The loans offer flexible repayment terms and underwriting agreements. 

AT and Accessibility Training – Employment

Empowering Voices: Effective AAC Evaluations

In FFY 2023 Oklahoma ABLE Tech staff offered the first Empowering Voices: Effective Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Evaluations workshop. This workshop is designed for speech therapists, educators, and other professionals who work with individuals of all ages with communication difficulties. The course provides an overview of AAC and its importance in supporting individuals with communication challenges. Participants also receive hands-on experience with speech communication assistive technology, allowing them to gain practical knowledge and experience in selecting and using AAC devices. In addition, the course provides information on funding options for AAC devices, including grants, insurance coverage, and other financial assistance programs. By the end of the course, participants should have a better understanding of the importance of effective AAC evaluations and will have the skills and knowledge necessary to conduct their own evaluations. 

A light skinned woman with long brunette hair explores a 4" x 5" Communicator for the Visually Impaired. In the background, there are many other people exploring other AAC devices.

Empowering Voices trainer and content developer, Averie Lucas, was nominated and recognized by the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) as an ASHA Innovator for her work creating and implementing the course. The ASHA Innovator recognition is designed to recognize and spotlight the challenging and demanding work performed throughout the country by talented and innovative communications sciences and disorders (CSD) practitioners. 


Digital Accessibility + Pre-ETS

After the release of the ABLE Tech Course Catalog, which currently contains courses related to digital accessibility, Oklahoma ABLE Tech staff scheduled two sessions for individuals related to transition from OSDE and DRS to educate them on the course catalog and help them start to identify students who may benefit from these courses. The courses are intended to help educators, counselors, and others serving transition-aged students (Pre-Employment Transition Services, or Pre-ETS) create more accessible content. Additionally, the courses can be used to help train individuals, including students in transition, to become accessibility professionals or add these crucial skills to their resumes to make them more marketable in the workforce. 


Public Awareness Collaboration – Community

Two members of Oklahoma ABLE Tech's Digital Accessibility Program team attended the 2023 Oklahoma Library Association (OLA) Conference. With more than 500 attendees, the conference turned out to be a very successful public awareness event that led to at least four follow-ups from multiple libraries. It also resulted in an increase in requests to speak at events like a lunch and learn event for the Metropolitan Library System and the 2024 OLA conference. This is an audience in great need of information related to both digital accessibility and AT, and will be an audience ABLE Tech continues to work with as much as possible.

Lyssa sits at a booth covered in AT and print materials in a large exhibit hall.


Programmatic Partners

Oklahoma ABLE Tech maintains partnerships statewide to enhance all core program activities. Device Demonstration Program and Device Loan Program partners allow more Oklahomans the opportunity to touch, try, and borrow AT devices to improve independence in communities, schools, and workplaces. Financial Loan Program partners assist Oklahoma ABLE Tech in processing low-interest loans that provide needed AT to Oklahomans with disabilities. Device Reutilization Program partners are strategically located in both central and rural counties and provide drop-off and pick-up sites for reutilization and exchange items donated to the program. 

Device Demonstration Partners

  • Bethany Children's Health Center, Bethany 
  • Handicapped Vehicle Sales & Services, Tulsa 
  • Indian Nations Council of Governments (INCOG) Area Agency on Aging, Tulsa 
  • Kiamichi Economic Development District of Oklahoma (KEDDO) Area Agency on Aging, Wilburton 
  • Moore Autism Center, Moore 
  • Newby-Vance Mobility, Guthrie 
  • NewView Oklahoma,  Oklahoma City, Tulsa 
  • Norman Regional Rehabilitation Services, Norman 
  • Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation – Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired Assistive Technology Labs,  Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Ada 
  • Oklahoma State Department of Health – Pediatric Audiology Program, Oklahoma City 
  • Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services – Vocational Rehabilitation,  Oklahoma City 
  • Oklahoma State University – Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders, Stillwater 
  • Oklahoma State University – eSports Arena, Stillwater 
  • Oklahoma State University – University Counseling Services Reboot Center, Stillwater 
  • United Access Mobility Auto Sales, Oklahoma City 

Device Short-Term Loan Partners

  • Bethany Children's Health Center,  Bethany  
  • NewView Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, Tulsa 
  • Oklahoma State University – University Counseling Services Reboot Center, Stillwater 

Financial Loan Program Partners

  • BancFirst of Stillwater, Stillwater
  • Oklahoma Assistive Technology Foundation (OkAT), Stillwater

Device Reutilization Program Partners

  • Bethany Children's Health Center, Bethany 
  • Central Oklahoma Economic Development District (COEDD) Area Agency on Aging, Shawnee 
  • Christ for Humanity, Tulsa 
  • Entrusted Hearts Medical, Owasso 
  • Indian Nations Council of Governments (INCOG)  Area Agency on Aging, Tulsa 
  • JD McCarty Center, Norman 
  • Kiamichi Economic Development District of Oklahoma (KEDDO) Area Agency on Aging, Wilburton 
  • Lawton Public Library, Lawton 
  • Special Education Resolution Center (SERC), Tulsa