Independence is Priceless... We Help Make It Affordable!
In This Issue
Upcoming Events

March 25, 2015
PEAL Center Annual Inclusive Communities Conference
At Doubletree Monroeville, 101 Mall Boulevard, Monroeville
Find out more...

March 29, 2015
MDA Muscular Walk of Greater Philadelphia
8:00 AM at the King of Prussia Mall


April 23, 2015
Second Annual Veterans Resource Expo
2:00 - 6:00 PM at the Hammermill Center of Gannon University in downtown Erie
The expo will feature over 75 community organizations that support Veterans and their families in basic needs, housing, health care, finance, education, employment, family and social needs as well as mental health support among many others.

May 5, 2015
Where to Turn Resource Fair
8:00 AM - 12:00 PM at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh 

June 2, 2015
PATF Press Conference
We'll present our Annual Report in Harrisburg. Stay tuned for more info!

In the News

Our very own Executive Director, Susan Tachau, co-authored an article for the Huffington Post, Guess Who is ABLE to Work? This article highlights some of the challenges faced by people with disabilities in the workforce and details some of the programs PATF provides to combat them.

Financial Tips from Penny Pincher 

Budgeting: 5 Ways to Organize Your Budget Which Are Not Horribly Tedious!
World Institute on Disability, EQUITY E-Newsletter

A budget is a tool, a philosophy, an on-purpose and written-down money management plan. So, here's the thing: There are lots of different kinds of budgets and the key is to pick a budget that fits the way you live because it will help you meet your financial and personal goals more quickly. A budget is not handcuffs or, I guess, wallet cuffs, but a budget is actually a framework for what's important to you. Care about exercise? Put it in the budget! Charitable giving? Budget it!


There are a couple of reasons why traditional budgets fail. First, people make them way too complicated and depend on other people's categories. I've actually seen a budget broken out into bathroom tissue, Q-tips and eye drops: really? Instead of being so itemized you lose the will to live, again, make a budget about you, your goals and the things you value.


Meet a Board Member

Nancy Murray

Nancy Murray, M.S., is the newest addition to our Board of Directors at PATF. Ms. Murray is currently the President of The Arc of Greater Pittsburgh at ACHIEVA. She has 35 years experience in the disability field in the areas of public policy, advocacy, supports coordination, health care and state government serving people with disabilities and their families. Ms. Murray has served as the Coordinator of the Down Syndrome Center at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, the Director of Supports Coordination at Staunton Clinic in Pittsburgh, and the Western Area Director of the Office of Developmental Programs in Pennsylvania. She has conducted hundreds of seminars and has written numerous articles for families and professionals on disability issues. Ms. Murray is also the Project Director of ACHIEVA's Disability Healthcare Initiative which is focused on access to healthcare for people with disabilities and ACHIEVA's innovative "A Home of My Own" project which is working with families to blend resources and create more affordable housing for people with disabilities.

Ms. Murray first became involved in the disability world when her two children were diagnosed with Down Syndrome. "Although they are not my biological children, my husband and I have loved them from the moment we met them. They have taught us about love, patience, and resilience in more ways than I can count," she says. In her opinion, the issues in need of the most attention right now in PA and across the US involve the extensive waiting lists for people with intellectual disabilities and autism, the implementation of adult protective services, the closing of state centers, and the need for more life long support for families.

Ms. Murray has known about PATF for years but became more interested after hearing Susan Tachau, Executive Director, speak at a conference last year. "I have been amazed at all of the assistive technology that is available to help people live independently."

Welcome, Ms. Murray!



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Assistive Technology Makes it Possible to Live Independently!


Neil in van

Neil Yates is unequivocal in his enthusiasm for his wheelchair accessible van and the independence it allows him to have. Whether he's cruising to his favorite New Jersey shore town, Belmar, or heading to a Phillies game, his van makes it easy to get where he needs to go on a daily basis.

A wheelchair user since a workplace accident in 2006, Neil purchased his van with a low-interest loan from PATF in 2010. He uses the van's side ramp to get inside, transfers himself into the driver's seat, and drives away using hand controls.

Neil makes frequent use of his van to travel from his home in Doylestown to Magee Rehab in Philadelphia, where he volunteers as a peer mentor to others navigating the challenges of recent spinal cord injuries. It is not hard to see that his patient, easy-going nature and ready smile would be helpful and encouraging. He is also mulling ideas for a new career path in the future. It could be that his van will come in handy to get to classes at Bucks County Community College or Temple's Ambler campus. With such varying interests and responsibilities, Neil is a busy man with places to go and, now, a way to get there.


Wrapping Up Money Club


First of its Kind

This past December we wrapped up our first ever Money Club. What a success! Funded by a grant from the Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council, sixteen individuals with a range of disabilities and varying levels of financial knowledge were invited to learn more about successfully managing their finances.

In monthly meetings, these young men and women worked and learned together to create workable personal budgets, understand how to build good credit, and learn strategies to protect themselves from identity theft, among other topics. As their guide, they used a booklet developed by PATF, Cents and $ensibility: A guide to money management for people with disabilities.

Personal Achievement
One of the most exciting features of the Money Club was the formation of an Individual Development Account (IDA) for each member. These accounts helped club members bring their new-found financial knowledge to real life. Everyone contributed monthly to their IDAs, and with each contribution PATF matched their deposits. At the end of the fifteen-month program members had saved $600 to be used for the purchase of assistive technology devices, providing greater independence to the user.

Ian is a perfect example of a young man with a disability using his financial knowledge to achieve his dreams. With a passion for food, Ian was working hard to find employment as a chef, but government organizations weren't providing the support he needed in his search.

On his own, Ian found a position as a sous chef that was exactly what he was looking for. However, every chef needs his own tools of the trade and Ian was without a set of quality knives. Using his increased understanding of budgeting and his IDA match-account, Ian saved enough money to buy his knives and open the door to the independence and satisfaction that come with meaningful work.



LowInterestLoans Low-Interest Loans

PATF extends loans for assistive technology to Pennsylvanians of all ages, all income levels, and all disabilities. Our low-interest loans have a fixed interest rate of 3.75% and are available for more expensive assistive technology devices ranging in price from $1,500 to $60,000. This can help cover expenses for technology such as:
  • Adapted vehicles
  • Stair glides
  • Wheelchairs and scooters
  • Hearing aids
  • Ramps and other home modifications
  • Modified tractors
  • Computer and/or specialized software

Our staff offers assistance to the borrower in the application process, credit counseling, and loan monitoring. We're here to help Pennsylvanians access the help they need to be more active in their communities.


Anyone Can Apply!

Here's an example of how accessible our low-interest loans are, even for people who are unable to get a traditional loan through a bank due to insufficient credit or low income.


The facts:

- Eric has a spinal cord injury and uses a wheelchair. He is registered with the state Vocational Rehabilitation Services agency (OVR) and is receiving services.
- Eric would like to purchase a previously owned vehicle.
- OVR has committed to funding the adaptations that are needed on the vehicle.
- Eric's total monthly income is $2,173.66. Of this amount, the monthly wages (with his new job!) will be $866.66. Eric will continue to receive SSDI ($1,307).
- Eric's only outstanding obligation is his rent of $686/month.
- Eric does not have established credit.  He rented some furniture and paid his monthly bills on time, but the company only reported the repayments to one credit reporting bureau. Eric does not have any credit cards.
- Eric tried to get a car loan through a local bank and was denied because of "insufficient credit history."


The PATF Board of Directors agreed to guarantee Eric's loan because they determined that Eric had the income to repay a $19,000 loan for an adapted vehicle. The Board also agreed that this AT was critical in making it possible for Eric to go to work, and OVR was committed to funding the vehicle adaptations.

- Total Loan Amount:  $19,000
- Term:  72 months
- Interest Rate:  3.75%
- Monthly Repayment Amount:  $295.09



The Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation (PATF) is a non-profit organization that provides low-interest loans to people with disabilities and older adults so that they can buy the assistive technology devices and services they need. 


Assistive technology is any device that helps a person with a disability achieve a more independent and productive life. Devices may include such items as: adapted vehicles, i-Pads, accessible home modifications (including ramps, roll-in showers, lowered counter tops), computers with special software and/or hardware, hearing aids, flashing doorbells, scooters and wheelchairs, seat lift chairs, closed circuit televisions (CCTVs).