Thursday, January 10, 2013

AT Lending Libraries in NC

Here in North Carolina we are blessed with some truly exceptional resources for our folks with special needs. Specifically we have a handful of agencies that offer lending libraries of unusual or expensive equipment.  This allows consumers to try equipment for free for a period of time, and for therapists/educators to augment there interventions. There are three agencies that come to mind: Tadpole, NCATP, and ATILL.

I have personally used the first two organizations. All three of them are free lending libraries. One offers free shipping (Tadpole), the others don't. You don't need a "school account" for any of them, you set up an individual account. Tadpole and ATILL have a great online library with photos. NCATP online library is nonexistent, but that's probably because they have so many centers throughout the state, and encourage folks to come in and put their hands on the equipment.


Where the Wild Things Are
Generations-Tadpole has over 1,300 items that have been selected for use with children and adults with developmental disabilities.  Their inventory includes both low and high technology.  Tadpole provides short term loans of both adapted and non-adapted devices to adults and children with developmental disabilities.  You may place your order on their website and they fill it, usually within a week.  Your order will include a packing list that includes the items that you borrowed as well as a ‘Due back the week of ________” date.  Prior to your due date, Tadpole will contact UPS to let them know to pick up your package.  UPS will arrive and bring a label and return the box to Tadpole.

Tadpole Inventory
All the above is a FOR FREE SERVICE. They pay shipping both ways. They provide batteries. Loan of the device is free. Amazing.

Tadpole's website is very user-friendly, though still under construction. It will be terrific when complete. That being said, there is tremendous value in taking a field trip there to see and hold all the different things they have to lend. It is a wonderful resource for therapists, teachers, and parents alike.

Assortment of SAT
Tadpole ships to a 22 county/school district region. Those counties/school districts include: Wake, Durham, Orange, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City, Chatham, Granville, Caswell, Person, Alamance, Franklin, Johnston, Wilson, Nash, Edgecombe, Moore, Lee, Harnett, Cumberland, Sampson, Wayne, Green and Clinton City Public Schools. Their operating hours are Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9:00 - 11:45 a.m. You can reach them by phone at 1-888-288-7948. Their address is 205 W E St # G, Butner, NC 27509.


The North Carolina Assistive Technology Program (NCATP) is a state and federally funded program that provides assistive technology services statewide to people of all ages and abilities.  A few blog-posts back I wrote about the AT Classifieds that are run by NCATP.

NCATP offers a device loan program to help individuals try out equipment in the location they will use it:  at home, work, school or recreational activities.  It’s a “try before you buy” approach which helps individuals and funding agencies make wiser choices. NCATP offers a wide range of assistive technology devices including augmentative communication ( for people with limited speech), computer access, low-vision aids, assistive listening, aids for daily living, switches, environmental controls, adaptive toys and recreational devices. 

Vantage Plus
Similar to Tadpole, the NCATP lending library is free.  Devices can be borrowed for a two week period.  Toys and other AT for young children (birth to 5 years old) may be loaned for longer periods of time.  

The NCATP library tends to be mid to high tech equipment, very current, and rather breathtaking. It's hard to find a place with a deeper selection and staff who are more knowledgeable.

The NCATP Centers are spread across the state of North Carolina with locations in Raleigh, Sandord, Winston-Salem, Greeensboro, Elizabeth City, Rocky Mount, Wilmington, Sylva, Morganton, and Charlotte.  

NCATP staff respond to individual requests about the benefits of AT, device options, information on funding resources, and the use of specific devices.  Staff research the inquiry and provide the information in person either on-site in the AT Center or in the home, school, work or community setting or via phone, email or U.S. mail.  Consumers or family members are not charged for this information.  However, if training on a device or formal evaluation is needed, there are fees for these services. 

Assistive Technology Initiative Lending Library (ATILL) 

ATILL Resources
Assistive Technology Initiative Lending Library (ATILL)  is a resource listing the assistive technology devices and software currently housed at the Watson School of Education. Like NCATP, they have many resources available for checkout providing you with an opportunity to "try before you buy."

Resources may be checked out for thirty days and must be picked up at the Assistive Technology Demonstration and Lending Site. Requests for devices may be made by you, a family member, a friend or advocate, or someone who is helping you with your assistive technology needs (e.g., a therapist, teacher, rehabilitation counselor).

ATILL is on the campus of Watson College of Education, in Wilmington, NC.  ATILL recently relocated into the Natural Sciences Building (NS) in room 1026. NS is located on the East Campus behind the McNeill Hall and can be accessed through Walton Drive. There are two parking spots with teal lines on the east side of NS in Lot T reserved for our AT Lending Library visitors. There is also a handicap parking spot on the south side of NS.

Of the three, I am least familiar with ATILL, and have not used them yet, but I was very excited to hear they are "in business"! The more the merrier. Tadpole is where I go when I need switch activated toys, or education supplements. NCATP is where I send families who are interested in test driving multi-thousand dollar devices.

I would wager that other states have similar programs.  If you not in North Carolina, but can speak to similar resources in your State I'd love to hear about it, with a web-link, and likely other readers would too!

Happy Therapy!

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