2021 November – Partner eNews –

November 2021

Thank you, Linda!

Reflections on a Career

by Linda Jaco

As I take an opportunity to reflect on what is of primary importance to me, it can be easily summarized by saying my family and my work. With today being my last day with Oklahoma State University after 26 years of employment, I’d like to share some reflections about my career. More specifically, I want to share my thoughts about being an AT Act Director, as well as my involvement with the Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs (ATAP).

When I accepted the Director position for Oklahoma’s AT Act Program, Oklahoma ABLE Tech, in October of 1995, I had no idea that it would be such a challenging, rewarding and transformative experience!  Helping individuals with varying disabilities become more aware of and acquire needed assistive technology (AT) devices and services took me on a journey that provided daily learning opportunities – making no two days alike! In summary, I visited unusual and interesting places, met a large variety of talented people, and worked on countless projects to increase Oklahoma’s statewide AT capacity in ways I did not even know existed when I first began my AT journey. In hindsight, it was indeed THE most challenging, rewarding, and transformative work experience of my career!

Further, fifteen years of working with and on the Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs (ATAP) Board was both energizing and fulfilling as it allowed me to better understand and be actively engaged in contributing to AT issues at the national level in an effort to improve funding, partnerships, policies/regulations within other organizations, and collectively work with like-minded colleagues to advance the mission of the AT Act Programs-at-large. It was an experience I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated!

I would be remiss not to mention my family. Being a parent, without a doubt, has been the singularly most important achievement of my life. Having the opportunity to now spend quality time with my grandchildren will be a primary focus moving forward. I never tire of being with them, watching them learn and grow, as well as sharing in their happy moments and reassuring them when life throws a curveball in their direction.

In closing, I believe one’s personal/work legacy is the family/colleagues who move forward to continue the values/culture/foundation that those before them initiated. I wish to thank my many colleagues for their inspiration and support over the years. While I will be stepping out of an active Director role with Oklahoma’s AT Act Program, I reflect on the successes we accomplished and will retain an active interest in the successes of the AT Act Programs.

Featured November Assistive Technology

Device Demonstration and Loan Program Success Story

ABLE Tech Demonstration and Short-Term Loan Programs extend services through valuable partners across the state. One of those partners is NewView Oklahoma. The following success story was submitted by NewView and James, who is learning to regain his independence.

James is a 76-year-old living in an independent living facility with his wife. James’ vision has been rapidly degrading over the past 10 years, and he lost his vision completely in early 2020. With the loss of his vision, James lost the ability to do tasks such as – taking care of his self needs, watching TV, making calls to friends, reading his Bible, and most importantly for James, choosing and differentiating the beloved CDs that he wants to play. James loves music and would have to wake up his wife and have her read the title of each CD and turn it on for him.

During NewView’s visits, new techniques and a variety of assistive technology (AT) were introduced to help James conquer these obstacles and become more independent in all aspects of his life. He has since learned to use an audio player to listen to his bible, use Siri to call his friends, and operate the radio using bump dots. To help identify the CDs of music he wanted to listen to, James was introduced to AT called the PenFriend 3.

With the help of a PenFriend 3, provided by the ABLE Tech Device Demonstration Program, James can now independently choose the CD he wants and play it on a CD player, which is marked with bump dots. James’ wife labeled each CD with a specialized sticker and he can touch the sticker with the PenFriend 3 to have the device read the labels aloud. This has helped James become much more independent with leisure activities!

PenFriend 3 Device 
You can borrow this device through ABLE Tech’s Short-Term Loan Program inventory link.

Thank you, NewView Oklahoma!

2022 Dates Announced for the Assistive Technology (AT) Virtual Workshop Series

ABLE Tech continues to provide the semi-annual training for AT Consideration, Assessment, and Implementation in the IEP for Special Education Professionals serving students with disabilities for the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) in record numbers. Both fall 2021 and spring 2022 (3-part series) workshops are being offered virtually. The fall workshop series started in September and will go through November 2021.

Here are some comments from participants:

“Our team is enjoying the Quality Indicators for Assistive Technology process planning worksheet.” 

“I will make educated considerations for AT and determine what tools could increase functioning and be a part of a team that helps find AT that is befitting”

NEW addition to the 3-part series workshops:
The Funding Assistive Technology workshop is scheduled for December 9th, 2021!

The 2022 training dates are now set. Training materials will be mailed to participants prior to Session 1 and include low-tech AT Make ‘n Take activities.

  • Session 1: Consideration of Assistive Technology (AT)  – January 13, 2022
  • Session 2: AT Assessment and AT in the IEP – February 10, 2022
  • Session 3: AT Implementation – March 10, 2022

Financial Loan Program Updates

Do you need a loan for home accessibility modifications or low-dollar Assistive Technology (AT)? Oklahoma ABLE Tech, in conjunction with our partner, Oklahoma Assistive Technology Foundation (OkAT), is offering loan products supported by the Administration for Community Living grant awarded to OkAT in August 2021 for program expansion. These products include a home modification loan and a microloan product. 

Woman in wheelchair cooking in ada kitchenThe home modification loan is a loan of up to $10,000 that can be repaid over a maximum term of 7 years, depending on the amount and home improvements completed. This loan can also be used for smart home AT purchases. Home modification loans for applicants that are not low-income may be processed through BancFirst of Stillwater, have a maximum amount of $25,000, and a term of 5 years. 

The microloan is a loan of $2,000 or less that can be repaid over 36 months. This product allows for additional flexibility in credit criteria, debt to income ratio, and a longer-term for repayment. Some examples of items that could be financed with the microloan include lift chairs, handheld magnifiers, or iPads.

All loans are a 5% interest rate. To learn more about these products or to apply for a loan go to the ABLE Tech Financial Loan page or visit OkAT’s website.

SoonerStart & ABLE Tech Collaboration News

Oklahoma County Success Story

Charles is an 11-month-old from Oklahoma County. Charles’s parents reached out to Oklahoma County SoonerStart therapists needing positioning ideas and stimulating toys for Charles to interact in his natural environment. The SoonerStart therapist demonstrated assistive technology (AT) devices in the positioning and vision categories.

Through the AT demonstrations, Charles’s parents became more aware of available devices and equipment that could support Charles’s ability to play independently. SoonerStart therapists collaborated with ABLE Tech and the AIM Center at the Oklahoma Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped to provide equipment for Charles. One of the devices Charles enjoys is a low-tech activity center. This creative piece of AT allows Charles to gaze on and explore a variety of objects on his own by surrounding him with visual and auditory stimulation – all within reach. As a result, Charles is now starting to engage more with his family and environment actively.

Congratulations 1st Quarter Team Winner:
The Oklahoma County SoonerStart team has earned the 1st Quarter Recognition Award for FY ’22! In addition, they will receive $500 in new AT to add to the demonstration kits!

Device Reuse Program News

Donations Needed! Can you help?

ABLE Tech, in partnership with the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA), serves many Oklahomans daily who need durable medical equipment and assistive technology devices. The Device Reuse Program is donation-based and relies on the community to give gently-used medical equipment. The following is a list of items that have a significant waitlist, and we are asking for your help!

Do you have any of these items available to donate?

  • CPAP Machines
  • Hospital Beds – Semi-electric and Electric
  • Quad Canes
  • Power Scooters
  • Power Wheelchairs
  • Walkers
  • Raised Toilet Seats
  • Incontinence Supplies

This is only a shortlist of immediate equipment needs. To view the full list, or to donate equipment, visit the ABLE Tech Reutilization Donation website and complete the donation form, or find a donation site near you! For any additional questions, please call the reutilization team directly at 405-523-4810.

**All durable medical equipment received is sanitized, refurbished/repaired, and reassigned to the best matched Oklahoman in need.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Accessibility Program

Just like with ABLE Tech as a whole, this quarter has been a time of great change for the ICT Accessibility team. Rob Carr moved on to a new position this summer, and we are very excited to have recently hired another team member, Adam Thiel, whom you can read more about in this newsletter!

ABLE Tech continues to offer the same services for digital accessibility, including training, consulting, and accessibility reviews. Read more about our ICT accessibility offerings on the ABLE Tech website. We also maintain a list of accessibility resources, where you can learn about document accessibility, web accessibility, audio and video accessibility, and more.

Oklahoma's Premier Web & Technology Accessibility Conference

We are also planning the TechAccess Oklahoma 2022 annual event, which will be virtual again this spring, so please stay tuned for more information and a save-the-date!

Welcome New Staff

Averie Hinchey

Averie joined the Oklahoma ABLE Tech team in September 2021 as a Speech-Language Pathologist. She graduated from Oklahoma State University in 2018 with her B.S. in Communication Sciences and Disorders and in 2020 with her M.S. in Communication Sciences and Disorders. Averie has clinical experience working with individuals across the life span in a private clinic, assisted living, and outpatient hospital settings. 

Averie specializes in augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). Her experience includes working with and evaluating individuals using AAC technology and completing funding applications for individuals to receive their own speech-generating devices.

Adam Thiel

Adam joined ABLE Tech as the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Accessibility Coordinator in September 2021. He has previous state-level experience including building the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s (OSDE) accessibility program from scratch as their first Digital Accessibility Coordinator, and as a Purchasing Coordinator, also for the OSDE, where he held a Certified Procurement Officer (CPO) certification.

Adam loves board games, heavy metal music, and anime, and currently lives in Moore with his wife Kendra, daughter Paisley, and dog Boo.

Kim Young

Kim joined the Oklahoma ABLE Tech Device Reutilization Program as the Program Specialist in August 2021.  She directly interacts with the public statewide and assists individuals with disabilities and their representatives with receiving needed durable medical equipment (DME) and assistive technology (AT), as well as assisting with the intake of donated equipment. She maintains the database of available devices and equipment; and manages the day-to-day office tasks at the Oklahoma City location.

Kim grew up in Moore, OK graduating from Westmoore High School and has taken courses at Oklahoma City Community College, with an interest in design. She currently lives in Oklahoma City with her beloved dachshund, Bruce.

Oklahoma ABLE Tech

CONTACT: Shelby Sanders, shelby.sanders@okstate.edu