The federal government recognized the importance of assistive technology in helping people with disabilities become fully engaged as early as 1988 by enacting legislation now known as the Assistive Technology Act. This Act led to the US Department of Education’s ability to administer funding for states to develop their own assistive technology programs. This funding has allowed every state and US territory to offer a program which provides assistive technology support to its residents. The Assistive Technology Act is now administered by the Administration for Community Living (ACL).

Learn the history of some of everyday technologies that were invented with the thought that this will help an individual with a disability but turned out to be a technology everyone uses you will be surprised of some of the inventions. Visit the Assistive Technology Timeline.

Who was Richard West

Richard West looking at the window of his home.

On June 21, 2012, DRNJ Board of Directors approved the name change of “Assistive Technology Advocacy Center” to the “Richard West Assistive Technology Advocacy Center” in honor of Richard West for his lifetime of service and notable accomplishments on behalf of individuals with disabilities.

Here are some interesting facts about the man who the center was named after.

Richard West held many positions before he became an advocate for disability. He was an auto mechanic, truck driver, commercial fisherman and a carpenter. He served his country well and he was a veteran of the Vietnam War. He advocated for disability rights at all levels federal, state and local. He received many honors, including:

  • MDA State Recipient of Personal Achievement in 2002,
  • The Ann Klein Advocate Award by the Community Health Law Project on October 23, 2002,
  • The Lifetime Advocacy Award by Community Quest on February 7, 2008,
  • The Community Building Award by The New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities in 2012,
  • The Christopher W. Hohenstein Fraud Fighter of the Year by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners on April 30, 2012,
  • VFW Americanism Award on September 21, 2013.

Richard West is noted for discovering fraud in the Medicaid system that encompassed over 41 states. To learn more about the Medicaid fraud read the full article “Tuckerton man’s resolve helps uncover multimillion-dollar health care fraud“.

When we learn about the past, we gather strength for the future.

Hank Smith
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