VIRGINIA ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY SYSTEM (VATS)
VATS, established in 1990, is a federally-funded statewide grant program. It is committed to improving the quality of life of all Virginians by increasing awareness and accessibility of assistive technology. This is accomplished through a variety of activities that offer information and technical assistance on devices, services, and funding resources. Also, in partnership with consumers, employers, educators, public and private agencies, organizations and others, VATS works to bring about changes in practices, policies and laws to improve access to assistive technology.
The Virginia Council on Assistive Technology, a statewide consumer-driven advocacy group, guides VATS' activities. More than 50% of Council members use assistive technology or are family members of persons who benefit from assistive technology.
Information and Referral (I&R)
VATS developed a computer database of information on more than 17,000 assistive technology devices, services and funding sources. Persons seeking information can call an I&R Information Specialist toll free at (800) 435-8490 (voice and text telephone) from 8:15 a.m. To 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Information can be accessed at any time by dialing toll free via computer modem, (800) 238-7955.
Education and Training
Central office staff and region site staff are available to provide presentations, exhibits, and scheduled demonstrations on assistive technology and related topics. Technical assistance is available for persons seeking full or partial funding of devices and services. VATS has local, state and national information on funding options and application instructions.
Creative Initiative Awards
Each year, awards are made available on a competitive basis to public, private, and nonprofit organizations, and individuals. Funds are awarded for the development of creative assistive technology strategies, approaches and programs for reaching unserved or underserved Virginians with disabilities of all ages.
Every year VATS sponsors a conference to promote interaction, education and information exchange. The conference is consumer focused and highlights the most recent developments in assistive technology devices, services, and policy. A limited number of conference scholarships are available each year for users of assistive technology and family members who wish to attend and require financial support.
Equipment Exchange Bulletin Board
Those who want to sell, buy, loan, borrow or give away used assistive technology devices may list these on the VATS computerized bulletin board read by directly calling (804) 662-9477 (modem) or by contacting an Information Specialist toll free at (800) 435-8490 (voice and text telephone). This bulletin board is also used to exchange information about devices, services and funding sources.
In addition to the VATS headquarters in Richmond, there is a network of four regional sites. These sites are located in the central, eastern, northern, and southwest areas of Virginia. At the community level, these sites provide:
VATS and its four regional sites do not directly purchase devices and services.