OFFICE FOR INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES

ORIGIN & FUNCTIONS


Within the Office of the Governor, the Office for Individuals with Disabilities formed in 1977 as the Office for the Coordination of Services to the Handicapped (Chapter 946, Acts of 1977). It reorganized in 1984 as the Office for Handicapped Individuals (Chapter 295, Acts of 1984), and received its present name in 1991 (Chapter 103, Acts of 1991).

The Office evaluates programs and services for Maryland citizens with disabilities. It coordinates and supports public and private agencies serving people with disabilities, provides information and referrals, and identifies and recommends ways to improve services.

State government compliance with laws and policies that affect persons with disabilities is monitored and encouraged by the Office. At least quarterly, the Office consults with and provides technical assistance to the Maryland Advisory Council for Individuals with Disabilities. The Office also promotes local or regional coordination of services to persons with disabilities. Authorization for the Office continues until July 1, 2004 (Code State Government Article, secs. 9-1101 through 9-1110).

The Director of the Office for Individuals with Disabilities chairs the Advisory Committee of the Technology Assistance Program and serves on the Interagency Committee on Aging Services; the Subcabinet for Children, Youth, and Families; the Maryland Partnership for Children, Youth and Families; and the State Coordinating Council (for Community Partnerships for Children, Youth, and Families).

Under the Office are the Assistive Technology Guaranteed Loan Program, and the Technology Assistance Program. The Office is aided by the Maryland Advisory Council for Individuals with Disabilities, and the Governor's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities.

ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY GUARANTEED LOAN PROGRAM

The Assistive Technology Guaranteed Loan Program was created in 1999 (Chapter 468, Acts of 1999). The Program helps individuals with disabilities purchase assistive technology equipment to enable them to become more independent and more productive (Code 1957, Art. 41, secs. 14-901 through 14-914).

Applications for loan guarantees and loan interest subsidies are evaluated by the Program's Board of Directors. The Board consists of eleven members. Eight are appointed by the Governor; one, by the Secretary of Health and Mental Hygiene; and one, by the State Superintendent of Schools. One serves ex officio.

TECHNOLOGY ASSISTANCE PROGRAM

The Technology Assistance Program (MDTAP) provides information and technology services to people with disabilities. To enhance the quality of life for Marylanders with disabilities, the Program helps people to locate, evaluate, and purchase adaptive devices. The Program offers technology-related training and referrals in cooperation with the Office on Aging, the Division of Rehabilitation Services of the State Department of Education, and the Developmental Disabilities Administration of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Three model technology demonstration centers have been established by the Program at Cumberland, Hagerstown, and Salisbury. A main site lies at the Maryland Rehabilitation Center in Baltimore where technology resource specialists serve.

Created in 1990, the Program is governed by the federal Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1988 (P.L. 100-407; P.L. 103-218). The National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research of the U.S. Department of Education funds the Program. Maryland was one of the first states to receive such a grant. Federal funding continues until September 30, 2002.

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 Maryland Manual On-Line, 2000

July 18, 2000   
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