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Michigan Disability Rights Coalition is a disability justice movement working to transform communities.

You’ve done the research, asked around, and checked reviews of devices as you went through the process of picking out assistive technology to meet your needs. There is usually a period of learning while using devices as you get started. This is the time when you make adjustments, figure out the day-to-day benefits of the device, learn its drawbacks first hand and seek additional information.  It’s important to put the time into making your device useful to you so it doesn’t end up in a closet or basement somewhere.  You’ve worked hard to get funding or pay for your device, now it’s time to make it work for you.

For some devices it's important to understand what needs to be done to keep it in good working condition. Ask the vendor or provider about a maintance schedule and resources for maintance if it's something you can't do by yourself.  (Of course, it would be good to have done this when researchng the device too.)

Most devices take some time to get used to. Some devices, like augmentative communication devices, stair lifts or other higher tech items, take training to get to a point where you can use them to their full potential. Take advantage of the training offered by vendors of the device. Look for others in your community that use the same device and ask them for tips and tricks. If you’ve purchased an augmentative communication or other computer-related device that requires a lot of training, consider finding a professional who provides training to help you learn how to use your device. Just as it takes months for a person to learn to work with an assistance dog, it can take some time and outside support to learn and use your new device efficiently to meet your needs.

Contact your local Disability Network/Center for Independent Living to find other people in your area that use the same devices. In addition to offering tips and tricks on your device, they may also be able to offer support as you learn and use your device because they’ve been in the same position you are in now.

It's a good idea to register your device so you will hear about recalls and updates. Vendors may also have email or mailed newsletters to keep you up to date on upgrades that are available for your device. You might also check the manufactors website to see if they have an email list or training available.

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