As of 10/1/2017, this manual has been retired. For current policies, procedures, and standards for the Texas Workforce Commission Vocational Rehabilitation Division, please refer to the following manuals:

In this manual, references to DARS now refer to TWC. The manual includes both links to public content and links to content available only to staff.

Chapter 32: Telecommunications, Sensory, and Other Technological Aids and Devices

32.1 Introduction

(Revised 01/08, 07/16)

As a result of technological advancements in the area of telecommunications, a number of special devices have been and will be developed that might have considerable impact on training, employment, and independent living for people who are significantly disabled.

Proper selection, timely acquisition and effective use of technology might make the difference in a consumer achieving success in training and employment.

Examples

These special devices may include any electronic, computer-based, or mechanical equipment, such as

32.2 Employment Assistance Unit

The Employment Assistance Unit develops and maintains information on scientific/technological devices designed to assist people with disabilities to achieve their rehabilitation potential. The Employment Assistance Unit can assist in determining job accommodations/modifications through the use of technology.

32.3 Evaluation and Purchase

(Revised 04/10, 02/12, 06/14, 07/16)

Assistive technology needs are evaluated before any devices are purchased. Simple and less expensive devices are considered first.

The Assistive Technology Unit (ATU) in the Criss Cole Rehabilitation Center in Austin and other evaluation facilities throughout the state are available to evaluate a consumer's need for equipment.

When considering requests for technology, the counselor should address the following questions:

When requesting the equipment, the counselor must justify the relationship of the equipment to the vocational goal (for example, "this equipment is necessary for this person to reach the vocational goal of computer programmer").

For more information, see Chapter 43: Purchasing Goods and Services for Consumers.

An Employment Assistance Services (EAS) field staff member will complete or coordinate the final installation of equipment at the consumer's home or worksite.

Assistive technology services for federal employees should follow Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP) guidelines.

32.4 Training

In order to make the best use of purchased technology, training is generally recommended. Local facility-based resources are sometimes available and should be considered first to make the best use of agency funds. Technology training consultants can also provide training at employment or school sites.

All assistive technology evaluators and trainers must meet agency standards.

For a list of both on-site and facility based training units, go to the Blind Services, Assistive Technology Unit section of the TWC intranet and then select Assistive Technology Trainers.

32.5 Applying Agency Policy

(Revised 11/15)

Before expending agency funds, staff members should evaluate the purchase of assistive equipment based on agency policy regarding the use of comparable services and benefits, including but not limited to:

32.6 Before Obtaining Equipment

(Revised 06/14)

When assistive equipment is recommended for a consumer, the counselor must ensure that

32.7 Supplemental Justification

If the total equipment request exceeds $2,500.00, include an evaluation for supplemental justification such as:

Note: Vendor evaluations alone are not acceptable.

32.8 Providing Equipment

Either new or used (previously tagged) assistive devices may be provided. Upon delivery of new equipment, the counselor must:

  1. Read and explain terms and conditions of the DARS2014, Rehabilitation Equipment Receipt and Agreement . Provide a copy to the consumer and file a copy of the DARS2014 in the consumer's case folder.
  2. Inform the consumer of the extent and limitations of warranties. Advise the consumer that DBS will not purchase extended warranties. DBS will consider purchase of repairs on a case-by-case basis after all other resources have been exhausted. Advise the consumer of other options (for example, consumer purchase of extended warranty, employer purchase of extended warranty). Advise the consumer to contact vendors for additional information.
  3. Advise the consumer that there are various types of insurance coverage (home owner’s and renter’s policies) that cover the loss of equipment. The Division for Blind Services does not provide such insurance.
  4. Advise the consumer that with supervisory approval, DBS will consider reasonable repair costs for 12 months after receipt of equipment in circumstances where the employer and/or the consumer cannot cover the costs.
  5. Advise the consumer that equipment is covered by warranty when the used equipment is still new enough to have warranty coverage.

32.9 Returning Equipment

If it is determined that an assistive device is no longer needed for the training/employment/pursuit of employment of an individual, the consumer shall return the equipment to the agency.

32.10 Purchase of Electronic Video Magnifiers without Evaluations

Counselors may purchase electronic video magnifiers without an evaluation. The consumer must be informed that DBS is unable to guarantee that the product will work for the consumer's unique eye condition and individual needs without an evaluation. Additionally, the consumer must be informed that he or she will receive an electronic video magnifier that meets the specifications as requested, but not necessarily the same brand or model requested.

32.11 Generic Purchases

A generic purchase is a purchase for which the counselor has requested a type of system as opposed to a specific brand or model. This kind of request allows the purchasing department to invite bids from all vendors who sell this type of system and is to DARS' advantage in that the least expensive product will be purchased. The following are examples of a generic purchase based on size and the color or on a specific feature:

A purchase based on brand name would be one in which a specific company’s product is requested.

32.12 Proprietary Purchase

A proprietary purchase is one in which the counselor is requesting that one particular CCTV be purchased as opposed to a generic purchase.

Some consumers require specific features of a electronic video magnifier which are not made by all vendors. The following are examples of a proprietary purchase:

32.12.1 Proprietary Statements

A proprietary statement must contain the following information :

Example of a Proprietary Memo

32.13 Purchasing Equipment for Consumers Who Do Not Meet Economic Need

(Added 06/14)

In order for DBS to purchase equipment or services at the DBS contracted rate, the counselor is not allowed to receive payment from a consumer who is above the maximum income level on the Basic Living Requirements (BLR) (economic resources) table. See Chapter 2: Intake, 2.3 Consumer Participation in Cost of Services, 2.3.7 Basic Living Requirements for more information on the BLR table.

32.14 Hearing Aids

32.14.1 General Rules

The general rules for purchasing hearing aids are as follows.

Hearing aids [either in-the-ear (ITE) or behind-the-ear (BTE)] may be purchased for consumers only with the recommendation of an audiologist or a licensed hearing aid fitter and dispenser.

Hearing aids may be purchased only from contracted manufacturers at their state discounted cost.

Physicians are reimbursed for examinations, hearing evaluations, and fitting and dispensing services.

Licensed certified audiologists are reimbursed for hearing evaluations and fitting and dispensing services.

Licensed fitters and dispensers are reimbursed for fitting and dispensing services.

32.14.2 Purchasing Hearing Aids

DBS procedures for purchasing hearing aids are as follows.

Usually with the recommendation of a physician, the counselor refers the consumer to a licensed audiologist for a hearing evaluation. A hearing evaluation must be done by an audiologist. A hearing evaluation and a service authorization for a hearing aid evaluation must be sent to the licensed hearing aid fitter and dispenser. The hearing aid fitter and dispenser may be a separate vendor or an employee in the audiologist's office.

When the audiologist or licensed hearing aid fitter and dispenser recommend an aid, they must provide the product name and model to the counselor.

The counselor generates a service authorization in ReHabWorks to the manufacturer for the state-discounted cost of hearing aids, which will include shipping and handling.

The manufacturer sends the product to the dispenser and the product invoice to the counselor.

After receiving the manufacturer's product invoice, the counselor contacts the dispenser to verify receipt of the product and then pays the manufacturer for the product.

The audiologist or hearing aid fitter and dispenser then administers the fitting of the hearing aid or aids and provides the counselor with verification that the fitting has taken place.

The counselor then pays the service charge of the audiologist or licensed hearing aid fitter and dispenser.

For more information, see Chapter 43: Purchasing Goods and Services for Consumers.