Assistive Technology (AT)
Assistive Technology (AT) is any item, product, system or equipment that improves life for people with disabilities. AT includes everything from walkers, reachers, grab bars, and hospital beds to power scooters, custom vans, Braille machines and computer screen-reading software. Disability Network can help you find the AT you need and also the resources to pay for it. The Michigan Assistive Technology Loan Fund is specifically set up for people with disabilities and it offers a low-interest loan for the technology you may need. Please contact Carolyn Ford for further information and assistance filling out the Assistive Technology Loan application
The Assistive Technology Program at Disability Network Oakland & Macomb offers a myriad of equipment, demonstration, and training opportunities. We provide in-depth evaluations designed to assess a person’s capacity for independent living with assistive devices. Our AT Classroom contains numerous low and high tech items that facilitate communication, activities of daily living, computer access, mobility assistance, environmental controls, and more. Please contact Jenell Williams with questions or to set up a demonstration!
Assistive Technology Success Story: Within Arm’s Reach
Gwen, like many 9 year old girls, is fearless. She skateboards, rides a scooter, plays soccer, and performs back bends with ease. She is happy and ready to take on the world. Diagnosed with Holt-Oram Syndrome, Gwen has cardiac issues and skeletal differences in her upper limbs. She has three fingers on one hand that extend away from her body and four fingers on the other hand that extend inward toward her body, and has become adept at using her body and assistive technology in creative ways to become independent.
Her parents have supported her and encouraged her to be independent in any way that works for her no matter how unconventional. For example, they broke a plastic spoon from the Dairy Queen and glued it back together at an angle so that she could feed herself. They purchased a rocker knife that Gwen uses with the chin to cut up her food and help prepare meals. In addition, between the ages of 5 and 6 they involved her in occupational therapy (OT). While OT was helpful, many of the AT devices the family was shown were designed for adults, not children, and not for people who have no thumbs or wrist movement, like Gwen. Her therapy focused mainly upon arthritis issues, not joint issues.
Fortunately, the family found their way to Jenell Williams at Disability Network Oakland & Macomb, a Center for Independent Living. Jenell is an Independent Living Specialist, and with training and funding from the Michigan Assistive Technology Program (MATP), was able to work with Gwen and her family to demonstrate AT devices that were targeted specifically for her needs.
During their time together, Jenell demonstrated various items to help with community living from the “small Changes, Big Differences” kit, including the One Touch can opener. The family could see that this particular can opener, designed for people with limited dexterity, would allow Gwen to open cans independently and add to her already growing independence with feeding and cooking . Jenell also learned that Gwen had the most difficulty with toileting due to her limited reach, and demonstrated the Bottom Buddy, a device that holds a wipe and extends the reach in a variety of directions for personal hygiene. Her parents are looking into a bidet as she gets older, but it seemed like a good fit in the meantime, and for this reason they purchased both the One Touch can opener and the Bottom Buddy.
As Gwen begins to grow in height her arms will grow in length as well. She looks forward to pursing her other interests that include gymnastics, cartwheels, riding a bike and swimming. She believes that as long as things are within her reach, anything is possible. Here is to assistive technology for putting life within arm’s reach!