New Pilot Program to Distribute Free Wireless Devices for Telecommunication

January 2016

PHOTO: person using wireless devicePennsylvania's Telecommunication Device Distribution Program (TDDP), a program of the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University is piloting a program to distribute wireless devices for telecommunication to eligible Pennsylvanians with disabilities.

Amy Goldman, Co-Executive Director of the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University, College of Education, directs the assistive technology programs at the Institute. Ms. Goldman says that people with disabilities have been asking for these devices to be added to the TDDP program for years. "Wireless technology is no longer a luxury item, but rather an integral part of daily life." Given the proliferation of these devices and the inherent benefit to people with disabilities, manufacturers have developed equipment and applications with accessibility in mind. "Device designers, manufacturers and software developers are mindful of the legal obligation and understand the positive impact from a business perspective of embedding accessibility in their products."

Beginning in January 2016, the TDDP will recruit participants to receive wireless devices through this program. "We are very excited to begin this pilot program knowing that in the past decade, wireless technologies have become the primary method of communication."

During the first year, the program will distribute the Apple iPad Air, Apple iPad mini and the Apple iPod touch. Each device will be loaded with the appropriate apps for telecommunication. Smart phones will be added to the program in the second year.

Participants must meet disability and income eligibility requirements and will be asked to attend meetings and take part in focus groups throughout the year. "We want to be certain that we match the participant with the right device and that they receive the training needed to get the most out of that device."

If the participant meets all of the requirements of the year-long program, the device will be given to them to keep. "Our goal is to help Pennsylvanians with disabilities communicate effectively at home, at work and in the community."

More information about the TDDP wireless pilot is available on the Institute's website at or those interested may contact, email:; telephone: 215-204-5966 (voice), 215-204-1805 (TTY).

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Institute on Disabilities at Temple University
University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research and Service