Grant fosters innovative technology to adapt disabled veterans’ homes

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For several many years now, the Section of Veterans Affairs has operated a grant method to assistance disabled veterans adapt their households. The system is referred to as Specially Tailored Housing Assistive Technological know-how. For how it functions and where by the income goes, the Federal Travel with Tom Temin turned to the Application Main of Coverage Jason Latona.

Tom Temin: Mr. Latona. Very good to have you on.

Jason Latona: Many thanks, Tom. Thanks for getting me. Respect it.

Tom Temin: And correct me if I’m improper, but these are not grants straight to veterans for their residences, but grants to individuals that can produce systems that could be incorporated into veterans’ houses?

Jason Latona: Yeah, Tom, thanks for creating that distinction. The names are incredibly identical among two programs. The Specially Tailored Housing Grant Application is to adapt homes for critically disabled provider related veterans, whereas the Specifically Tailored Housing Assistive Technological innovation Grant Program is to foster innovation and new know-how to help our veterans.

Tom Temin: And what is a typical grantee then? Are they technology builders in information or in I do not know, producing bogs and kitchens that are tailored to veterans and that sort of detail?

Jason Latona: Nicely, you know, the SAHAT Grant delivers grant funding for particular person builders and entities. So these are teams that are doing study, acquiring systems and hoping to convey the sector useful items and their innovations, which we hope will aid our extremely significantly disabled veterans in their properties. You know, some products and solutions are obtainable now in the community marketplace. Some are not. But I also want to specify that we’re not just searching for substantial tech innovation for the SAHAT Grant Software. We’re also looking for innovative building technologies, merchandise and methodologies that could also help. So there’s a bunch of different feasible use situations that we appear at for the SAHAT Grant.

Tom Temin: And what are some examples of items that have been made in the previous that have finished up in residences for veterans?

Jason Latona: Wonderful dilemma. Given that 2016, when these grants begun, they resulted in the introduction of several new goods to the accessibility business to improve the life of veterans. So a couple of all those consist of an AI powered cellular scanner and reader application that is termed Supersense. Which is an application a veteran can down load right to their cellular phone, and it allows visually impaired people to read through textual content independently. We’ve also obtained a definitely amazing product. It’s an adapted a modular toilet, referred to as the Dignity Bath, which provides a safeer rest room atmosphere, permits dwelling adaptations in a fraction of the time it will take to finish a standard renovation project since it is modular. We also have a robotic overbed that’s becoming utilized for beds. Now it’s an overbed desk, alternatively, it is for recliners, wheelchairs in mattress, it’s termed a Robotable that permits people to really independently placement and keep cell units, or use a distant or obtainable switch from their bed or chair. So we have had quite a few merchandise that have really made it to market.

Tom Temin: And who develops these? Are they the common companies that like the lavatory fixture companies, some of the massive types, or is it style studios? Or what does it seem like the population applying for these grants?

Jason Latona: It is all the above. We have instructional institutes. We have had like Auburn University, St. Ambrose College, College of Pittsburgh, quite a few universities that occur in and distinctive believe tanks. We’ve experienced other organizations, public businesses that occur in and use. We have tiny innovative entrepreneurial developers that just experienced this just one solution they’ve been functioning on. And they operate the gamut. Institutions for education and learning, but we also have veteran owned small firms and all distinct sorts of teams. And that is one particular of the factors we appreciate about the grant is it is attracting a whole gamut of probable awardees.

Tom Temin: And these are developmental grants, so they occur up with thoughts, and then what’s the process by which they grow to be commercialized and out there finally, for persons that need them?

Jason Latona: So the VA assists with naturally, the grant funding. So after we get all the proposals, we consider the proposals, and we use a lot of issue make a difference professionals on the VA facet, who are specializing in assistive technological innovation and new goods that can assist us establish which is most feasible, and that will have the greatest influence for our veterans. At the time we award the grant, we variety of watch the improvement by way of the developmental lifecycle. And we aid as essential, we will also offer speak to to other programs that have to do with engineering insertion in the VA. So these innovators, when they have a feasible solution can speak to the VA about its applicability. Definitely, with R&D, a great deal of these matters really don’t occur to fruition, both. So we do not have a great deal of goods that are marketable this time. We even now have numerous organizations that are doing the job on obtaining it to sector, but the up to $200,000 that these personal innovators get helped them alongside their way.

Tom Temin: We’re talking with Jason Latona. He’s the main of policy for the Specifically Tailored Housing Plan at the Veterans Affairs Department. And what are some of the gaps do you feel in this variety of assistive technological know-how that you’re hoping to fill?

Jason Latona: Nicely, actually changing an idea to a merchandise which is marketable seems to be the most demanding factor, and these grants are no various. We hope that the dollars offered by these grants and advice supplied by our group can enable aid them. But it’s not a warranty. So it actually comes down to how excellent the idea is, how proficient the issue make any difference industry experts are on the awarded aspect and what their push is to get this to industry.

Tom Temin: But I mean, are there precise areas of technological innovation that you feel have to have to be formulated to support veterans with certain challenges they could possibly have?

Jason Latona: Excellent problem. Yeah, these times, we see a good deal of troubles with veterans who are dealing with diverse concentrations of blindness, to be ready to reside independently. The sensible residence principle is quite huge in business appropriate now. But it’s nonetheless so unique and form of a market current market that it is very pricey. So what we’re hoping for is to see a lot more improvements in that spot, the smart dwelling market, that will truly drive the selling price down a very little little bit and make it additional available for our veterans who are services connected disabled. Also, we’d like to see some much more innovation in the adaptation construction piece. Just like the know-how, adaptive construction is continue to sort of a area of interest marketplace builders are nevertheless attempting to figure out how to make dollars executing it. So we’d like to see much more innovation that would make that easier.

Tom Temin: Adaptive design, this means what? What is that?

Jason Latona: The genuine actual physical adaptation of a veteran’s dwelling to make it obtainable. So the tiny improvements we need to have to make in veterans’ properties that will aid them stay far more independently, regardless of whether it is applying voice command to open up closed blinds, to unlock doors, more substantial tech appliances to make certain that veterans are harmless, controlling the utilities in their properties, that variety of thing.

Tom Temin: Absolutely sure, and I guess some essentials like aren’t genuinely know-how, but just creating properties with wider doorways to get started with.

Jason Latona: Certainly, that complete style innovation is a significant offer. Are the front and rear doors obtainable? Are the doorways vast enough and the hallways wide more than enough if you are using a wheelchair? That form of issue, also is your rest room available? 1 of the most important difficulties we see out there is that a toilet is not entirely obtainable. And that’s anything from the ability to have a roll in shower, to have a roll under self-importance, to be capable to bathroom securely and independently. These are all things that we’re truly interested in.

Tom Temin: It strikes me that a good deal of these technologies have considerably broader software than simply just veterans. Because as the populace ages and gets additional infirm, or just there are extra People and therefore much more people today with disabilities, these are universally relevant.

Jason Latona: Unquestionably, yeah, the the principle of common style and design and residing in place and growing old in put are major principles these times. So these varieties of products that are applied to veterans that we use VA grant funds to acquire can undoubtedly be made use of on the broad open market. It is not just something that applies to veterans, but it has a a lot wider applicability.

Tom Temin: Because I mentioned there are other businesses, overall health relevant organizations somewhere in the extensive apparatus that is NIH and HHS, there ought to be plans hunting at the exact same issue, do you collaborate with them? Or do you have a way of discovering who they are in the initial area?

Jason Latona: We do. A great deal of it is chilly contacting in our section. But there are also huge gatherings and irrespective of whether it be the International Builder Exhibit and Countrywide Kitchen and Tub Displays or unique kinds of field outreach environments, we check out to acquire the time to do outreach and connect with nonprofits and for-revenue corporations, I like to obtain out what’s out there and what’s being developed. And then we also like to go ahead and make certain they know what the VA presents that can perhaps guide with pushing these products into the current market.

Tom Temin: And VA has just announced the SAHAT Grants now for 2022. Has that been held up mainly because appropriations have not come by way of until now?

Jason Latona: No, the grants award pretty much is the same time each and every 12 months. So suitable now they’re posted to Grants.gov. And we’re browsing for proposals. We have a number of that have already been submitted, the cutoff time for fiscal 12 months 22 is basically March 18, this Friday. And awards will be announced someday in April.

Tom Temin: And then of study course, there’s the veterans themselves. And if a veteran would like to get entry by means of a grant to do his or her individual property, how does that transpire?

Jason Latona: The VA offers Specially Adapted Housing Grants to give physical variations to qualified veterans’ residences. So if veterans come to feel that they have some variety of accessibility have to have in their property thanks to a assistance related incapacity, then we actually would like to listen to from them. So the in general intent of the SAH Grants, to deliver a far better high quality of home everyday living for our most seriously disabled veterans. And how these exactly normally takes shape is clearly one of a kind to each and every condition just as every single veteran and their requirements are distinctive, and we do our best to tailor design features to meet up with the unique requirements. But we also have a established of least expectations which we connect with our minimum house requirements that we will provide. So getting independence and protection to occur and go from your household is a person of individuals minimums and it’s expected at the conclusion of just about every SAH Grant undertaking. So if you qualify for an SAH Grant, you can get up to $101,000 this fiscal yr to make modifications to your house. To find out extra, be sure to lookup us on our site by searching VA Specially Adapted Housing Grants on any internet lookup, you are going to be ready to discover us or reach out to your community veteran’s company firm or you can call us, we’d love to talk to you.

Tom Temin: All suitable, Jason Tony is main of coverage for the Specifically Adapted Housing Plan at the Veterans Affairs Section. Thanks so significantly for joining me.

Jason Latona: Many thanks Tom. My pleasure. Thanks for possessing me.

Eleanore Beatty

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