Telecommunication Assistance Program (TAP)

TAP is an application-based financial assistance program for the purpose of making telecommunications devices for distance communications available to Wisconsin residents of any age who are severely hard of hearing, Deaf, or Deaf-Blind. TAP can assists with paying co-pay costs associated with the Telecommunications Equipment Purchase Program (TEPP), or funding towards the purchase of specialized telecommunications equipment, new hearing aids, or cochlear implant external processors. Funding is available on a first-come first-served basis. TAP applicants may apply once every three years.

There are four program options available when applying for TAP assistance: TAP Copay; TAP Plus; TAP Equipment Purchase Assistance (TEPA); and TAP Hearing Aid Assistance (TAP HAA).

All TAP program assistance options listed above require applicants to:

  • Be a Wisconsin resident
  • Meet income eligibility guidelines (PDF)
  • Provide a completed TAP assistance application
  • Provide hearing loss documentation
  • Purchase equipment through an approved vendor
  • Apply only once every three years

For information about each program option select the corresponding tab below.

1. TAP Copay

TAP Copay assistance is available to cover the $100 copay costs required by the Telecommunications Equipment Purchase Program (TEPP) available through the Public Service Commission (PSC) of Wisconsin for the purchase of approved distance communications devices.

Additional TAP copay eligibility criteria:

2. TAP Plus

TAP Plus assistance is available to add up to an additional $150 towards an applicant's TEPP purchase when there are additional out-of-pocket costs that otherwise would be a hardship for applicants to pay. TAP Plus works in combination with the TAP copay assistance.

Additional TAP Plus eligibility criteria:

3. TEPA

TEPA is available to cover the costs of approved specialized telecommunications equipment up to $250 for program eligible applicants who are not applying for the larger TEPP assistance voucher.

Additional TEPA eligibility criteria:

  • Not applying for TAP Copay, TAP Plus , or TAP HA assistance
  • Purchase equipment from approved list (PDF)
  • Purchase equipment through an approved vendor (PDF)
  • Submit a quote noting amount requesting and equipment purchasing

4. TAP HAA

TAP HAA provides funding towards the purchase of new hearing aids and cochlear implant external processors to increase the efficiency and use of telecommunications devices for distance communications. TAP HAA can provide up to $250 towards the cost of a telecoil or Bluetooth-enabled hearing aid or cochlear implant external processor. TAP HAA is available to eligible applicants with an out-of-pocket expense including any additional benefits or discounts available through applicant insurance or supplemental plans. A TAP HAA fact sheet, P-02925 (PDF) is available for printing.

TAP HAA eligibility criteria:

  • Not applying for TAP Copay, TAP Plus, or TEPA assistance
  • Be a Wisconsin resident
  • Meet income eligibility guidelines
  • Purchasing through a certified audiologist or licensed hearing aid provider
  • Submit a quote for a hearing aid or cochlear implant external processor (must have a telecoil or Bluetooth program enabled and specified on quote)
  • A completed hearing loss certification form, F-22554 (must be current within the past six (6) months)
  • Not receiving Medical Assistance (examples: BadgerCare Plus, Medicaid)

Additional TAP HAA eligibility criteria:

Certified audiologists or licensed hearing aid providers must be approved vendors within the Wisconsin STAR accounts payable system (see HAA Vendor's page for more information).

What's not covered:

  • Over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids
  • Mail-order hearing aids
  • Personal sound amplification products (PSAP) like pocket talkers
  • Online testing documentation
  • Battery replacements
  • Hearing aid or external processor repairs
  • Non-certified or unlicensed provider
  • Providers not approved or active as a vendor in the Department of Health Service's accounts payable system

Please note:

  • TAP HAA vouchers will be mailed to the applicant or the applicant's legal representative to be redeemed with an approved vendor (certified audiologist or licensed hearing aid provider) as a credit towards the total purchase price of the device.
  • The program funding is not intended to cover costs associated with hearing exams, other clinical or office expenses, medical expenses, or past purchase amounts.

TAP program required documentation:

For TAP Copy, TAP Plus, and TEPA:

  • Submit an online application or printable application form, F-02306.
  • Submit a completed hearing loss certification form, F-22554 or Audiogram.
    • People who are able to sign the Hearing Loss Certification form include: licensed physicians, certified audiologists, or hearing instrument specialists. Hearing instrument specialists completing the form will also need to provide an exam result or report for one of the following procedures conducted within six months of the signed TAP application (pursuant to Wis. Admin. Code ch HAS 4 under the Hearing and Speech Examination Board: (PDF)
      • Recording and interpretation of audiograms and speech audiometry to determine proper selection and adaptation of hearing instruments.

      • Appropriate masking when indicated.

      • Speech audiometry by live voice or recorded voice, including speech reception threshold, speech discrimination testing, and most comfortable loudness measurements and loudness discomfort levels.

      • Pure tone audiometry, including air conduction testing and bone conduction testing.

  • TAP vouchers will be mailed to the applicant or the applicant's legal representative (unless otherwise directed) to be redeemed with an approved vendor as a credit towards the total purchase price.

For TAP HAA:

  • Submit an online application or printable application form, F-02743. (PDF)
  • Submit a completed hearing loss certification form, F-22554, (signed by a certified audiologist or licensed hearing aid provider within the last six months.)
  • Submit a quote noting a T-coil or Bluetooth program is included and enabled.
  • TAP HAA vouchers will be mailed to the applicant or the applicant's legal representative to be redeemed with an approved vendor (certified audiologist or licensed hearing aid provider) as a credit towards the total purchase price.

Hearing aid provider search resources:

Notice regarding services from other state programs:

  • A person eligible for or receiving services from the Department of Workforce Development's Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) shall first be evaluated by DVR to determine if the person is eligible for a telecommunications device under the vocational rehabilitation program, and if denied by DVR the person may apply for TAP assistance.
  • Preference will be given to individuals who are not receiving telecommunication devices from another state program.

Please contact the TAP Program Coordinator by email or call 608-267-7195 if you have questions, need assistance, or want to talk about any special circumstances or other financial assistance options.

Additional resources:

Telecommunications Equipment Purchase Program (TEPP)

TEPP helps people with disabilities with purchasing the specialized equipment they need for distance communications. TEPP is paid for by the Universal Service Fund, which was established by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin. In most cases, TEPP requires some applicants to pay a $100 co-pay towards their equipment purchase. Visit the TEPP website for eligibility requirements and program information.

Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBBP)

The Emergency Broadband Benefit is a temporary FCC program to help households struggling to afford internet service during the pandemic. This federal benefit program is funded with $3.2 billion through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. The program offers temporary discounts of up to $50 per month ($75 on Tribal Land) off of eligible households' internet access bills. Visit the Public Service Commission's (PCSs) EBBP website for program information.

iCanConnect

iCanConnect provides individuals with both significant vision and hearing loss with free equipment and training for distance communication. iCanConnect is a national program with local contacts that helps people stay connected with friends, family and the world. Visit the iCanConnect website for income and disability eligibility requirements.

Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA)

HLAA is the nation’s leading organization representing consumers with hearing loss. HLAA gives members the tools they need to live more successfully with hearing loss. The programs and services offered are designed to focus on you—the person with hearing loss. Visit the Hearing Loss Association of America website for programs and services information.

Other financial assistance for hearing aids and hearing assistive technology for adults who are Deaf, hard of hearing, and Deaf-Blind

Hearing aids range in cost from $1,000 to $4,000, which is not affordable for many people. However, various programs exist to help people with lower incomes purchase hearing aids and other assistive hearing technology at lower out-of-pocket costs. Agency list, P-00591 (PDF)

Last Revised: June 25, 2021