In September I was fortunate to attended the workshop, “Creating Assistive Technology Solutions in Minutes: Supporting children who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing, Blind/Visually Impaired and /or have Multiple Disabilities,” that emphasized how easily Assistive Technology (AT) can be modified or customized. As an AT Consultant for IPAT, I work with people who have disabilities to help them find AT solutions to fit their individual needs. In some cases the solution cannot be purchased, or lacks all the features they are looking for. Through this workshop I learned different ways I can modify off the shelf AT solutions, or create AT, when the perfect solution doesn’t exist.
Therese Willkomm, PhD, ATP, Clinical Associate Professor at the University of New Hampshire, led the workshop. She is known as the McGyver of AT because of her ability to use every day items to create and customize AT solutions. She uses things such as corrugated plastic (the material most election signs are made out of), Velcro, and tape to make tablet holders, smartphone mounts, cup holders, adaptive eating solutions and more!
Since the workshop I view AT solutions in a new way. I am more creative, and look to see what can be used in the environment before looking for a solution that can be purchased. For example, a pool noodle can become a playing card holder, a tennis ball can be adapted into a writing aid, a glove with the fingers cut off can help someone with physical disabilities better control a touchscreen – the list goes on and on! The skill of thinking outside the AT box especially helpful when there is no purchasable “perfect” AT solution, and when funding for AT is limited.
Service providers, teachers, therapists, parents, caregivers and more attended this event. We all walked into the workshop with our minds open to learning new things, and walked out more capable to help the people with disabilities in our lives become more independent and successful at whatever they want to do!
Check out some of Therese’s work on her YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/ATinNH/featured