Institute Making the Most of A.T. Devices

PHOTO: Jamie A. Prioli, REEP project coordinator (right) demonstrates an Assistive Technology device to Academy for Adult (AAL) Learning student Lamar Span (left) as Titania Boddie, AAL program coordinator (center) looks on.

The Institute on Disabilities is practicing reutilization by matching “gently-used” assistive technology (AT) devices available with individuals who can use them, including students right here at the Institute and Temple University.

A few years ago, Pennsylvania’s Initiative on Assistive Technology a program of the Institute, completed a project called the Regional Education Assistive Life Long Learning project or “Get REAL.” With the GetREAL project, the Institute was federally-funded to purchase and install low-vision technology in libraries across the Commonwealth. Some of that technology is no longer supported by the manufacturer and can not be used by libraries.

“The technology was still very valuable to the right user,” said Amy Goldman, co-executive director of the Institute. “We thought about the people who might be able to use these particular devices. The answer was literally right in front of us.”

For the past several months, the Institute has been matching devices to Temple University students and providing training on how to use them.

“So far we have given an Intel Reader to a student who is a part of our Academy for Adult Learning Program,” said Jamie Arasz Prioli, project coordinator of the Reused and Exchanged Equipment Partnership (REEP) and the Get REAL project.

“With it the student is able to capture printed material using a camera-like device. The device converts text into audio and allows the student to ‘listen’ to the required textbooks and handouts.”

Other devices will be matched to the right individual to help overcome barriers in the home, community, in school or at work.

“It is our goal to put assistive technology into the hands of Pennsylvania residents and to increase the supply of low-cost (or free) quality reused equipment for those who may not be able to afford it or are underinsured. At the same time we keep the devices out of landfills. This is a great way to make the best use of our resources.”