The CARES Act

What’s the link between the CARES Act and adaptive technology?  To understand the implications, let’s first take a look at the numbers.  The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which passed in late March, earmarks $30.7 billion for states to spend on education.  A quick funding breakdown from FutureEd:

 

  • $13.2 billion for elementary and secondary schools
  • $14 billion for higher education
  • $3 billion for the Governors Emergency Education Relief Fund, which governors can use for “significantly impacted” school districts or higher education institutions.
  • New England states are estimated to receive between $31 million (Vermont) and $215 million (Massachusetts) in K-12 education stabilization funding.

The CARES Act and adaptive technology

 

According to a coronavirus fact sheet recently published by the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, “Accessible technology may afford students, including students with disabilities, an opportunity to have access to high-quality educational instruction during an extended school closure, especially when continuing education must be provided through distance learning.”

Among other provisions, the CARES Act distinctly allows K-12 relief funding to be used for

Purchasing educational technology (including hardware, software, and connectivity) for students who are served by the local educational agency that aids in regular and substantive educational interaction between students and their classroom instructors, including low-income students and students with disabilities, which may include assistive technology or adaptive equipment. (Jordan, 2020, section 2).

The Education Department is also offering states more flexibility on how they spend existing funds, which may provide schools greater opportunity to purchase technology for distance learning (Jordan, 2020, section 4).

Higher ed institutions have broad discretion on how they spend the institutional portion of their funding, including the category of technology costs “associated with a transition to distance education” (Ellucian, 2020).

Subsequent proposed legislation may mean additional COVID-19 response funding for elementary, secondary, and post-secondary schools in the near future.

What’s your next step?

Reporting by the Associated Press indicates many parents fear disabled students being left behind in the transition to remote learning, as students lose access to services and technologies previously available to them at school (Binkley, 2020).

As a student advocate during this time of unprecedented uncertainty, what steps will you take to help increase accessibility and narrow the achievement gap for students with disabilities?

Resources & Tools

Here are 5 ways we recommend supporting students as we head into the next school year.

 

Adaptive Tech Solutions for the Visually Impaired

Our top picks from industry leaders for their use of advanced technology (including OCR and AI), image quality, intuitive design, portability, and affordability.

Optelec ClearView GO

$3,599 $2,995

Optelec Compact 10 HD Speech

$1,595

OrCam Read

$1,995 $1,795

Zoomax Snow 12

$1,295

Additional information on assistive technology for educational use can be found in our resources.

P.S. July 26 marked the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  For more information and shareable resources, check out the ADA Anniversary Toolkit from the ADA National Network.

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