The COVID Scholarship Program was a joint endeavor between MoAT and the Missouri Developmental Disabilities Council, the state’s Developmental Disabilities Council. The program started as a response to addressing the technological needs of individuals with I/DD during the pandemic, but it has since morphed into a broader discussion on people with disabilities and the digital divide. MODDC provided the initial funds for the program and MoAT contributed additional funds to enhance the program. Through an application process, MODDC identified and selected individuals and families to award assistance to. MoAT then contacted the families to discuss their technology needs, purchased the devices and distributed them to individuals/families. Approximately 180 individuals/families were served through the program (the number of applicants was considerably higher, further underscoring the need).
The program’s outcomes were significant as the vast number of recipients reported being able to take advantage of tele-medicine appointments, maintain contact with family, friends and service providers, participate in education remotely, etc. From the angle of MoAT, the program helped tie participants to our overall program, as well as specific programs for AT that they could utilize to meet additional needs (i.e. our funding program for school districts, our Telecommunications Access Program, etc.). On a wider level, the program helped raise the profile in the disability community of the importance of broadband access, but even more the need for affordable access to broadband and related technologies. Discussion has occurred about a second round of program funding.