Have a disability? Keep working with assistive technology! In recognition of National Disability Employment Month and Blindness Awareness Month, AT3 Center shares this success story from the Illinois AT Act Program (IATP).
John was crushed when he learned there was nothing more that could be done for his vision. For 40 years, he has worked as a registered nurse, a job that requires reading medical charts as he prepares patients for surgery.
Born with partial facial paralysis, John cannot close one eye on its own and over time his vision in both eyes has deteriorated. His eye doctor informed him that his prognosis was not good and that the prescription strength of his glasses had reached their maximum benefit.
But he also told him about IATP, the Illinois Assistive Technology Act Program.
Thanks to the Assistive Technology Act of 2004, every state and territory has an Assistive Technology Act Program, and a place to go to see and learn about devices that can make a difference for individuals of all ages and disabilities. AT Act Programs provide this service free of charge, and offer short-term loans of equipment to try at home (or work or school) for free or a nominal fee. Anyone can borrow equipment to fill a short-term need or find out if a device works for them before making a purchase.
John came to the IATP Demonstration Center in Springfield and found a kitchen with accessible cabinets and cooking aids, a bedroom with a hospital bed and lift chair, an accessible bathroom, technology for environmental control and technology for accessing computers. There were also areas for different categories of disabilities, including a section with communication devices and accessories; a section with hearing devices such as amplified phones and signaling devices; a section with mobility, seating, and positioning devices; and–most significant for John–a vision section.
“It was like a breath of fresh air,” he says.
At IATP, John was introduced to a large selection of handheld magnifiers and desktop video magnifiers, large print and audio output devices, screen reading options, and more. Staff showed him different devices to consider for his needs, and he came away borrowing equipment from the Device Loan Program to try out at his workplace.
“I had hope again,” he says.
At the hospital, John tried special software for his computer, a camera that can project the image of documents on a larger computer screen, and a big keys keyboard.
Today, John continues preparing patients for surgery with equipment acquired following his device trial. In a letter of thanks he wrote to IATP staff, he says the help he’d received was a blessing and the hope he came away with was a feeling he’d not had in years.
Vision Assistive Technology – the What, When, Who and Why (from the AT3 Center)
Accommodating Employees with Blindness (from the Job Accommodation Network)
Technology Resources for People with Vision Loss (from the American Foundation for the Blind)
Ideas for Employers and Employees (from the US Dept. of Labor for National Disability Employment Month)