Most people make a commitment to some kind of New Year’s resolution each year. For some it might be losing weight, advancing their career or spending more time with family and friends. For others it might be getting organized, continuing their education or learning a new language. But I would dare to say that a large number of people have financial resolutions they want to achieve at the top of the list.
Creating and keeping a budget, making plans to save more and getting out of debt are the goals I hear about the most and have actually worked on myself. For the visually impaired community, it could also be finding funding to purchase assistive technology and devices. Achieving these financial resolutions could be a little daunting and stressful if tackling them alone. Having some help from people who are familiar with the financial world and understand the needs of people with disabilities can be a big help and lead to even greater success.
The Center for Financial Independence and Innovation (CFII) is an Atlanta-based non-profit that works with people with disabilities to help them reach their financial goals and be more independent. CFII was established in 2003 when the Georgia Department of Labor successfully applied and received a federal grant to provide loan capital. This funding would be used as an alternative financing program for people with disabilities to purchase assistive technology, home and vehicle modifications. The program was funded and was originally called Credit-Able.
Now a person with vision loss can apply for a low interest loan to purchase assistive devices such as a CCTV (closed circuit television), braille equipment or assistive software for their computer. Prior to Credit-Able’s creation there were very few places, if any, that a visually impaired person could go to get funding to buy needed devices to be successfully independent. Ronald Menifee, who is visually impaired said, "I contacted CFII about three years ago to get help with purchasing assistive software and office equipment. CFII is a great program and now I am more independent because I can get on the computer and access needed information.”
In 2005, a decision was made to expand Credit-Able to offer other financial services besides just loans for assistive technology, home and vehicle modifications. So CFII was born. Now, not only can a person with a disability get a loan for assistive devices, but they can also receive financial education and counselling, down payment assistance to purchase a home and much more.
I have personally benefited from the expanded services of CFII. A few years ago during tax season, CFII worked with local non-profits in the disabled community to provide tax preparation assistance. I was able to come to CVI and work with a CFII staff person to get my income taxes completed. I preferred working with CFII than hiring a tax preparer, getting a friend to help or doing it myself since they were already familiar with the disabled community and handling financial information.
According to their website, “Since 2005, CFII has provided over $5 million in financing for Assistive Technology, as well as over 1,000 hours of financial education, to more than 350 Georgians with disabilities, their family, and caregivers.”
Here at CVI, clients can get financing to purchase assistive technology and devices at the VisAbility Store. We have partnered with CFII to provide this needed service. All a client has to do is pick up an application at the store and return to CFII for approval. Once the application has been approved, funds will be provided to purchase their devices at VisAbility.
For more information on CFII and their financial products and services log on to www.thecfii.org or call 404-541-9005.