PATF Releases 2016-2017 Annual Report: Making a Positive Impact on Lives One Loan at a Time
May 26, 2017
Contact: Susan Tachau, (888) 744-1938
The latest accomplishments of the Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation (PATF) were highlighted at a press conference Tuesday, May 23, hosted by Chief Executive Officer, Susan Tachau, at the Capitol Rotunda at 12:00 p.m. PATF continues to achieve outstanding outcomes for the individuals with disabilities and older Pennsylvanians who have been able to purchase the assistive technology (AT) devices and services they need. The program leverages a small amount of public funding into a large number of loans that strengthen our communities. In addition, the repayment of loans from past borrowers provides funding for future borrowers. Remarkably, even though PATF makes many non-traditional loans, its loan default rate is under 1%, which is significantly better than the industry average of about 10% for traditional lenders.
The organization released its 2016 – 2017 Annual Report that contains information on how PATF’s financing made it possible for 229 people with disabilities in Pennsylvania to acquire the assistive technology (AT) they need in the last year. The Report, available at the event, also describes the tremendous growth PATF has experienced in the past 15 years, and the types of assistive technology that more than 3,008 people have purchased with their loans since the organization was founded. The Report also profiles the stories of borrowers whose lives have been impacted by the assistive technology they were able to purchase.
Pennsylvania policy makers spoke about their support of and continued commitment to provide essential public and private funding for the program. Speakers included Senators Ward, Blake, and Christine Tartaglione; Representatives Sheryl Delozier and Mary Jo Daley. In addition, David DeNotaris, Executive Director of the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, PA Department of Labor & Industry, spoke about how assistive technology can play a critical role in helping people with disabilities obtain and/or maintain competitive employment. As is well known, people with disabilities have high rates of under- or unemployment and access to assistive technology can make it possible for someone to be employed and enjoy greater financial independence.
Holly Chase, Financial Education Officer, PA Housing Finance Agency, spoke about the importance of including financial education opportunities into PATF’s programming so that individuals with disabilities will have the tools they need to make informed decisions. PATF’s materials provide the basics of sound money management, including money mapping, savings, banking basics, and borrowing. PATF’s ¢ents and $ensibility is unique in addressing important legal information about decision-making and navigating available resources, such as ABLE accounts, in order to give individuals with disabilities the opportunity to live independent and productive lives, she said. This information is more accessible to teachers and families with the addition of the website, www.studymoney.us.
Additionally, Tom Smith, borrower and musician, spoke about the assistive technology he uses with his full-time job as a musician. As he said, “I was embarrassed, frustrated, angry…I could not professionally compete with the other sighted producers, or for that matter, the other blind producers. An acquaintance suggested that I contact PATF, and it was like ‘rubbing the lamp.’” Tom took out a loan for a new computer and the specialized software he needed to record (JAWS, a speech reader; and, Cake Talking, a program that bridges JAWS with the recording software on this computer.) Furthermore, Tom said, “Music is one of life’s gifts. It is a toy, tool, and tonic. You can hear it and feel it – there is something for everyone.”
Using both public and private funding, PATF serves Pennsylvanians without regard to age, income, or disability, and currently has a loan portfolio of over $35 million. The organization buys down the interest rate on all loans, provides extended repayment periods as needed, and guarantees loans for borrowers who do not have a traditional credit history. Other services include providing assistance to hundreds of individuals to locate and apply for other sources of available funding. In addition, PATF provides financial education to applicants and borrowers. The goal is to empower people with disabilities with the information they need to be more independent and financially capable.
The Board and staff of PATF are pleased to be included in the Governor’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2017 — 18 in a line item called Assistive Technology Devices (Financing), within the Department of Labor & Industry. This appropriation will support PATF’s continued work on behalf of people with disabilities of all ages across Pennsylvania. PATF is also advocating for an increase of $100,000 (total of $500,000) supporting the costs associated with outreach, underwriting and processing new loan applications so that the organization can help additional Pennsylvanians.
Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation (PATF) was founded in 1998 as a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide education and financing opportunities for people with disabilities and older Pennsylvanians, helping them to acquire assistive technology devices and services that improve the quality of their lives. It is headquartered in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania and uses a network of Funding Assistance Coordinators across the state to assist prospective borrowers. Learn more about the organization at www.patf.us. Download a copy of the 2016-2017 Annual Report. Contact them at (888) 744-1938 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find PATF on Facebook at Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation PATF and Twitter at PennsylvaniaATF.