Assistive technology (AT) is growing in popularity as local families adjust to social distancing and virtual community activities.
The Ability Center has launched a new program, Tech for REC (recreation, education, employment, and community), which allows consumers to meet their independent living goals by borrowing assistive technology for periods up to 90 days.
A lending closet was developed to serve The Ability Center's seven-county service area. Grant funding from the Dana and Christopher Reeve Foundation as well as CARES Funding helped launch the program.
The closet consists of electronic devices, alternative input/output devices, and switch adapted toys, instruments, and leisure items. Participants must first be a consumer of The Ability Center and set independent living goals that align with the use of the pieces.
The original intent of the Tech for REC closet was for youth consumers to gain access to adapted play and leisure items. In response to COVID-19, The Ability Center identified access to technology as a barrier for individuals across the entire lifespan. With this in mind, the closet was expanded to include devices (Kindles, iPads, and Chromebooks) to support independent living.
All items are available to borrow for short term loans up to 90 days free of charge. Caregivers can borrow AT to help a child reach a specific milestone or, to make an informed purchasing or funding decision.
Youth impacted by disabilities may face barriers to participation in play and leisure activities at home, school, and in the community, which can be overcome or lessened through the use of AT.
Assistive technology is helpful to youth who are unable to engage in play due to their disability. Adaptive toys to switch activation enhances independence for those who have limited motor function.
“A child may be cognitively able to participate in a card game with their peers however, physically unable to hold or place cards on the table.”
Candidates for Tech for REC work with staff to develop goals for increased independence, be paired with an appropriate assistive technology device(s) and receive follow up including goal achievement measurements completed throughout the process.
Similar to the Tech for REC Program, In 2019, we supplied 687 individuals with durable medical equipment through our Assistive Technology/Medical Equipment Program. 100% of individuals reported on a follow up survey that their needs were met.
Just as consumers face challenges to financially gain access to durable medical equipment, the same is true for AT. The Ability Center believes in providing services to help individuals with disabilities thrive in their community.