Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), the Chairman and the Ranking Member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, have introduced The 21st Century Assistive Technology Act (S. 1835) that would increase access to assistive technology in order to help individuals with disabilities of all ages, including the aging workforce. This legislation would update The Assistive Technology Act by clarifying that the program serves all people with disabilities, including older adults who developed disabilities later in life. In addition, this legislation would also increase the funding authorized for programs that serve rural areas. Assistive technology refers to any piece of equipment, product or service that helps someone with a disability or functional limitation accomplish their daily needs, including hearing aids, screen readers and even smart phones.

The bill, which comes following a hearing in the Aging Committee on the topic, would also help reduce the low employment and high poverty rates of older adults and people with disabilities by helping them live independently and maintain employment. The legislation specifically lists under the heading of “targeted individuals and entities,” “individuals with disabilities of all ages and their family members, guardians, advocates and authorized representatives,” and “underrepresented populations, including the aging workforce.”