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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.

One of the greatest joys of working for the Michigan Assistive Technology Program (MATP) is witnessing “the spark moments”, those moments when you can see on someone’s face that a light bulb has just turned on and they first recognize the power that and impact assistive technology can have in their lives.

For Warren Glass, the spark moment first occurred in September 2012 after a group presentation on Assistive Technology for People who are Neurodiverse that was held by Lisa Bucher of the Superior Alliance for Independent Living (SAIL), a Center for Independent Living in the Upper Peninsula. Warren was having difficulty using his landline phone due to a hearing loss, and contacted SAIL looking for devices that could help. Through a device demonstration, he was able to try out several amplified phones and found that the Clear Sounds Talk 500 best met his needs. SAIL was then able to order the phone for Warren as United Way funding was available for residents of Marquette County. He was delighted with the program and the opportunity to finally have a phone he could hear!Warren using amplified phone and smiling

For Warren, the assistive technology spark didn’t end there. In January 2013, he contact SAIL again requesting another device demonstration with magnifiers as he reported that even though he wore glasses, he was still having difficulty with reading the newspaper and the phone book. Lisa went to Warren’s home taking along a variety of magnifiers for him to try out. He was especially pleased with the LED floor lamp style magnifier that he tried. It was very easy for him to be able to use hands free while sitting in his walker. Fortunately, there was United Way funding still available, so the magnifier was acquired with that funding for a very pleased Warren!

Warren reading a magazine under the magnifier floor lampHaving experienced the freedom and independence that the amplified phone and magnified floor lamp afforded him, Warren again began reflecting upon how technology could help with everyday tasks. It was difficult for him to get out into the community to take care of personal business especially during the winter months, as he used a walker. He had realized that more and more tasks could be done online more efficiently, and in February 2013 contacted SAIL again interested in laptop computers. He was shown a variety of laptops and notebooks and was able to find a larger laptop that enabled him to see clearly. Again, the United Way came through for Warren as a laptop was available in the loan closet that he could use.

The United Way Assistive Technology (AT) program for adults in Marquette County is administered by United Cerebral Palsy of Michigan (UCPMI). This program loans AT devices to adults for as long as they need them. Individuals sign a loan agreement in which they promise to return the item to the loan closet when they no longer need it. This program has made it possible for many adults to obtain needed AT devices who reside in Marquette County. SAIL’s AT program partners with the UCPMI United Way program to assist individuals needing AT devices.

 The help that SAIL and UCPMI/United Way provided has greatly assisted Warren in being able to live more independently. He is very thankful and appreciative of the help he has received from these programs, and now able to better experience the world around him and participate in activities of importance to him through the use of assistive technology.

We hope that “the spark” will only continue for Warren. Technology, by nature is always improving and evolving and has infinite potential for changing the lives and independence of people with disabilities. Has your assistive technology spark been ignited yet? If not, contact the Michigan Assistive Technology Program (MATP) for a device demonstration and let us show you how AT can help!

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