Therese Willkomm – The McGyver of AT

Over the last few months, we’ve had the privilege of participating in Therese Willkomm’s workshops demonstrating how she uses every day materials to create AT solutions for individuals with disabilities.  Dr. Willkomm is the director of ATinNH, the New Hampshire state wide assistive technology program with the Institute on Disability and is an assistant professor in the department of occupational therapy at the University of New Hampshire.  She uses a wide variety of easy to find materials like corrugated plastic, corner guard, plastic tubing and U Glue to create iPad and book stands, iPhone stands for projection, cup holders and hundreds of other practical AT supports.  Check out her Traveling Eileen™ iPad holder,

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To learn more about her creative ideas, read her book, Assistive Technology Solutions in Minutes Book II: Ordinary Items, Extraordinary Solutions. 




Hearing loss doesn’t stop NFL Fullback

This video captures the perseverance and drive it takes sometimes to reach your goal.  Derrick Coleman is a fullback in the NFL for the Seattle Seahawks and he is deaf.  With the help of a simple adaptation of his hearing aids, lip reading and supportive teammates he has been very successful and has reached his goal.  Check out this video and hear his story


Families as AT Advocates

The Family Center for Technology and Disabilities offers great resources to help families learn about AT, identify AT solutions for their children and help their children to be self-determined about AT.  The Assistive Technology Solutions Fact Sheet is a visual guide to AT and a great resource to share with families!  Check it out and share it with families….it’s new!

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MaKey MaKey! Amazing!!

We recently posted about MaKey MaKey, a low cost kit for making computer switches from everyday items (bananas, toys, paper, even pencil led).  Listen to Ynez Peterson, Occupational Therapist from St. Mary’s Home in Norfolk VA, share her perspectives about teaching students in general education about the value of switches and using switches with students with disabilities.  Ynez helped participants at Virginia’s recent Creating Connections to Shining Stars Conference learn about using MaKey MaKey in the AT Playroom.

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 Ynez Peterson (link to video)

ACE IT in College

In 2010, Virginia Commonwealth University was one of 27 universities across the U.S. to receive funding for a 5-year demonstration grant from the federal US Department of Education, Office of Postsecondary Education. ACE IT in College is a collaborative effort between the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center and the Partnership for People with Disabilities in the VCU School of Education. ACE-IT in College provides an inclusive, on campus, college experience for young adults with intellectual disabilities. The main outcome of the program is competitive employment in an area of interest for students which is developed through VCU coursework, internships, and employment.

ACE-IT in College is proud to annouce the launch of their website. Please visit the website to meet the ACE-IT in College students, hear from faculty and families, and learn more about this comprehensive program:

New device from Israel allows people with a visual impairment to read

Here’s a great post about OrCam, an Israeli start-up that has developed a camera-based system intended to give the people with a visual impairment the ability to both “read” easily and move freely. Until now reading aids for the visually impaired and the blind have been cumbersome devices that recognize text in restricted environments, or, more recently, have been software applications on smartphones that have limited capabilities. The system is designed to both recognize and speak “text in the wild,” a term used to describe newspaper articles as well as bus numbers, and objects as diverse as landmarks, traffic lights and the faces of friends.  It’s $2500 price tag may seem like a lot but the potential for independence is there.

Read more about it here:

Johnny Kelly presents at VOTA Conference

Our friend, Johnny Kelly, recently presented an informative and inspirational keynote address at Virginia’s Occupational Therapy Association (VOTA) Conference 2012.  Johnny talks about disability awareness, finding your purpose, and living in the now.  Listen and learn about Johnny’s life and the lessons he has to share.

(Mature themes)

LookTel Recognizer

I heard about an app the other day that was designed for individuals with visual impairments. LookTel recognizer allows the user to take photos of objects and then associate a voice file with that picture/object. Then when the individual with a visual impairment opens the app and holds their iphone or iPad up to the object the device will play back the message. Well, I was thinking, wouldn’t this app also be a great tool for an individual with intellectual disabilities to use while on a job site. The job coach could take pictures of each job station and then when the worker has difficulty remembering the steps of the task or needs prompting he/she could open the app and scan the station. Can’t wait to try it out.
looktel recognizersmall.png LookTel Recognizer