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MDRC cultivates disability pride and strengthens the disability movement by recognizing disability as a natural and beautiful part of human diversity while collaborating to dismantle all forms of oppression.

ForWoman using magnifier to look at a newspaper ad many people, assistive technology means time saved, a job done better, more efficiently, communication with the click of a button, and information in the blink of an eye. And, for Sharon and Colleen, assistive technology helped pave the way back to independence.

Sharon and Colleen both have physical and visual disabilities and were living in nursing facilities until becoming involved with the Nursing Facility Transition Program. As part of their transition back to their own apartments, they received demonstrations of equipment and devices that would help them with daily living tasks from staff at the Capital Area Center for Independent Living (CACIL) in Lansing. These demonstrations are made possible through Michigan’s Assistive Technology Program at the Michigan Disability Rights Coalition.

Coleen expressed that it was the “simple things” that she missed doing independently; reading the newspaper, her mail, and prescription bottles. She also was taking many medications and finding it hard to manage them all. With these needs in mind, staff demonstrated the MedCenter Monthly Reminder System, a 31-day pill alarm system that allows you to set up to four daily medication reminders. This system had a large print display that more easily allowed Colleen to see the time, date, and pills for the day as well as have it announced audibly. In addition, she tried several magnifiers and found the Optelec Power Mag to be the best fit for her needs because it added light. Both of the devices were funded through the Nursing Facility Transition Program. In addition, since Colleen had just bought a new iPhone, CACIL staff helped her identify several useful applications. Up until that point, she had no idea that her phone had these capabilities. Today, Colleen is back in her apartment, living independently with the help of assistive technology. She remained so pleased with her medication reminder system that she demonstrated it for the nursing facility staff.

In a similar situation, The med center monthy with pill boxes for each of 31 daysSharon sought assistance from CACIL staff for help with medication management, magnification for reading, cooking, and help to organize her daily schedule. She was shown a large print address book, different types of magnifiers, assistive cooking utensils, as well as other household management tools. Again, these items were funded through the Nursing Facility Transition Program. Sharon too is now back in her apartment, reading with ease, and thrilled by her new-found independence.

These success stories demonstrate that it’s not always the latest, shiniest, or fastest technologies that make a difference in life. With the help of knowledgeable staff and few relatively low-tech, inexpensive devices, Sharon and Colleen have regained the freedom to do some of the things that we so often take for granted.

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