This post was written by UCP Summer 2017 Programs and Development Intern, James O’Connor
“We try to ask ourselves: what would make this person’s life better, faster, easier?”
This is what motivates Brenda Chappell, Director of Clinical Services at Provail, a UCP affiliate located in Seattle, Washington. Brenda recently spoke to us about Provail’s assistive technology programs.
Assistive technology is an umbrella term that covers equipment, software, system, or any item that is used by people to find and or maintain a job and/or perform activities of daily living. Technology can be big, like an automated lift for van or bath, or small, like a Velcro-attached grip for a fork or a pen. It can be new-age interactive voice activated software for speech therapy or a wheelchair component. It can be high-tech–a computer screen operated by eye movement or low-tech, like a specially-designed door handle for people with muscle strength or dexterity problems.
Assistive technology can often be complex and very user-specific, and this is where Provail’s team plays an important role. At their AT (assistive technology) clinic, they take a holistic approach to finding the best technology for each person.
Brenda and her colleagues’ AT programs bring professionals from Provail into schools and homes to recommend AT, and teach users, parents, teachers, therapists, and caregivers the best ways to put a person’s AT to best use. Provail works with kids as young as 4 years old, as well as adult clients, and individuals all the way through the lifespan.
Brenda notes that students with earlier access to AT have overwhelmingly better outcomes in both learning and lifestyle. She makes it clear that enabling mobility and communication at an early age are core to the program at Provail. “Before this unique program, we would see adults coming into the clinic with no AT and no mobility. Now, parents doing a 10-week program with us are finding successes that they never knew were possible.”
On top of helping people find and use the best possible AT for their needs, Provail also helps connect users with typical and alternative funding sources, making the stressful process of financing AT easier for many of their clients.
As assistive technology becomes more complex, more varied, and more common, it is important to put people first and keep in mind Brenda’s important question: what would make this person’s life better, faster, easier?
Check out your local affiliate to find out more about what type of AT services may be available, including financial resources that may be available.