Responding to recommendations from AT Dialogues and with the support of the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training, and Labour, Easter Seals NB has now completed pilot projects that began in 2018 in Saint John and expanded in 2019 to Fredericton. The AT Loan Program received approval from the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour to expand province-wide.
To provide you with some background context, as far back as 2010, Easter Seals NB has had a vision for a provincial AT Loan Program that would manage selected assistive technologies, purchased for Working NB clients in New Brunswick. This vision would enhance services to Working NB clients while ensuring provincial resources were being used efficiently, consistent client service was provided throughout the province, and that the right technologies for the identified tasks were in the hands of clients.
Easter Seals has purchased an inventory of assistive technology that is on hand to be loaned to clients for as long as they used it for its intended purpose, i.e., education or employment. It would then be returned to the inventory at Easter Seals NB, refurbished, and loaned to another Working NB client for their use. Clients who returned their technologies would have future access to the AT Loan Program for additional education and/or employment trials.
One of the primary goals of the AT Loan Program has been to provide “the right service at the right time with the right level of AT for the client”.
Highlights of the pilot projects include: over 40 clients borrowed technology from the AT Loan Program; just over 140 hardware and software items were borrowed; upon receipt of an approved TESS Application, Easter Seals NB prepared and shipped 80% of inventoried items within 3 business days; 20% were non-inventoried items and fell outside Easter Seals NB’s shipping standard of 5 business days.
Students who applied for and were awaiting approval from the Canada Student Grant program were able to borrow technology from the AT Loan Program to bridge the time gap between making the application and purchasing their technology. Employed clients were able to borrow technologies from the AT Loan Program and trial them at their workplace, thus ensuring that their employers invested in the right technology for their jobs.