Ability Tools Mission Statement
Ability Tools connects Californians with disabilities to assistive technology devices, tools and services to make life easier!
Ability Tools/AT Network History
Ability Tools, formerly the AT Network, was established in 1998. The AT Network was rebranded Ability Tools in July 2014.
CFILC was awarded the Assistive Technology Act contract in June 1998 by the California Department of Rehabilitation. CFILC branded the program the “Ability Tools.”
In 2001 CFILC was awarded a five-year grant from the National Institute on Disability & Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) to conduct the first-ever Participatory Action Research project on the use of AT by Californians with disabilities. It engaged people with disabilities to directly participate in research and to take action on the results. All project publications remain posted on the Ability Tools website.
In 2004 the federal Assistive Technology Act shifted toward direct services including device loan, device reuse and financial loans. In 2006 a network of device lending libraries throughout California was created under the California Assistive Technology Exchange (CATE) program.
In 2009 CATE and the AT Network programs were merged under the AT Network name. CFILC was awarded the contract to administer the expanded program which included the following services: information & referral, training, device lending, technical assistance.
In 2010 the AT Network expanded into AT reuse. We were the lead organization that created the California Assistive Technology Reuse Coalition (CATRC), which connects organizations engaged in reuse throughout California. In 2011 we provided five reuse centers with capacity building grants to build their ability to provide their communities with used AT. All five of the organizations are still engaged in AT reuse activities, and four of the organizations continue to post their items available for sale or for free on the NATADS device loan portal.
Currently, Ability Tools is one of 56 Assistive Technology Act funded programs; one exists in each state and U.S. territory. We work with multiple partners, including device lending libraries, reuse centers, AT centers, Independent Living Centers, and our membership to advance the use of AT for Californians