ATK Celebrates National Assistive Technology Month

As Jamie McEachern, an assistive technology specialist from Assistive Technology for Kansans (ATK) , demonstrated how different devices could help enlarge text for people who were visually impaired, her words also appeared in large print on a displayed smartphone in front of her.

"A woman speaks from a platform with assistive technology on a table in front of her while a woman translate in American Sign Language"

Her demonstration was part of celebrations for ATK staff, council members and supporters who gathered at the Capitol in Topeka on April 17 in honor of Gov. Laura Kelly designating April as Assistive Technology Awareness Month in Kansas. 

Assistive technology helps individuals with disabilities live more independently, connect with their loved ones and participate in their community. The technology on display included audio amplifiers, live captioning tools, large screens for video calls, and more. 

Nancy Bolden, during one of the ATK demonstrators, held up a small red booster seat with large wheels, a precursor to a wheelchair, designed for ages 8 months to 5 years. “This allows for independence, for the child to learn and explore their world,” she said. 

Sara Sack, director of Assistive Technology Programs at the Life Span Institute, said the April designation by the State of Kansas, and nationally,  highlights the importance of assistive technology and the work ATK does to provide the tools for Kansans who need them. 

“In our view, this gives us a whole month that we can focus on it and bring other groups into hearing about our programs,” she said. 

ATK helps Kansans of all ages who have disabilities find assistive technology that works for them, with device demonstrations and short-term equipment loans to try out equipment.

"A woman speaks to a seated audience during a demonstration of bone conduction headphones used to amplify sounds"

Trying out the equipment before making a purchase is important, as assistive technology specialist Cassie Ramon explained during her hearing assistance demonstration, because "If it doesn't work for you, you won't use it."

Staff at each of the six offices across Kansas can help people locate financial assistance from private and public resources, including help finding refurbished equipment at little to no cost. According to Sack, ATK has helped Kansans find more than $500,000 in financial assistance each year. 

ATK also works with the Kansas AT Loan Program to offer flexible, low-interest loans to pay for the cost of the equipment, which can range from hundreds to several thousands of dollars. 

“They really work with you to make sure you can afford the payments,” Sack said. “If your employment or your health changes, they can extend the level of flexibility with you.”

Learn how to communicate better with people who use Augmentative and Alternative Communication with these 5 tips from people who use them.

View a gallery of images from the Assistive Technology Awareness Month celebrations at the Topeka Capitol.