Parker Owsley (6, Toledo) received an iPad and a ramp from Tech for REC
Ability Center launches new initiative
One of the goals of the Ability Center of Greater Toledo (ACT) is to ensure that individuals with disabilities can live as independently as they desire. ACT’s most recent initiative is designed to accomplish that through the use of technology for all ages: an Assistive Technology Program. Through the use of various modifications and technologies, this program offers disability-adapted means of recreation, opportunities for education/employment and community engagement. This includes tools for play that can help kids with disabilities to socialize and learn new hands-on skills.
For someone with a disability to take advantage of this program, they must first become a client with ACT before establishing independent living goals which will allow the program to choose tools to best help accomplish those goals. Some of these tools include adaptive technology that can be loaned out for up to 90 days, free of charge, a feature made possible by a grant from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.
“It is important to understand that a wide range of items— both low and high tech— can be
considered assistive technology (AT),” says ACT Youth Recreation Coordinator Sarah Heldmann. “Individuals should be paired with technology to enhance their own abilities or provide alternative options to accomplish a task.”
Available assistive technology
Some of the assistive technology aids available for loan are sensory, ergonomic, academic and environmental, as well as items to help with daily living, communication and computer access. Items for these purposes can be rented out as needed, and they can also be a great way for a parent to test out a rented item before investing in a purchase of that item themselves.
One goal that many people with disabilities have is to be able to engage in recreational activities, and many of the items available for loan, like switch-adapted toys and other leisure items, meet this need. Many children with disabilities might be hesitant to engage in play due to lack of motivation, previous negative experiences when trying to play with toys, or because they are physically unable to engage with a toy. The Assistive Technology Program aims to help with those common hurdles.
“A child may be cognitively able to participate in a card game with their peers
but are physically unable to hold or place cards on the table,” Heldmann says. “Through play, children learn social, emotional, cognitive and physical skills. Increasing access to assistive technology to foster play and leisure exploration for youth with disabilities will help them integrate into the culture at home, school and in the community.”To help ACT expand this program, you can make a donation through their website, by mail, or by drop-off. Ability Center of Greater Toledo, 5605 Monroe St., Sylvania. 419-885-5733. abilitycenter.org