Assistive Technology can be life-changing for people with disabilities. Thanks to a grant from Maine CITE, Pine Tree Society has access to hundreds of Assistive Technology devices for Mainers to “try before you buy.”
“Simply put, Assistive Technology is any tool that helps someone do a task easier and, as a result, increases their independence,” said Linda Bonnar, director of Pine Tree Society’s speech and Assistive Technology program.
In its simplest form, Assistive Technology can be as basic as using a piece of Play-Doh to wrap around a pen to make it easier to hold or finding the perfect on/off switch for a person who can’t physically use their hands. At its most complex, Assistive Technology can be an app designed to aid in communication or an eye gaze system for speech.
“Assistive Technology truly is anything that will make something that’s challenging for a person easier for them,” Linda continued. “We even have an adapted Xbox controller for families who never thought their child could play a video game.”
Pine Tree Society’s Assistive Technology Demo and Loan Library is exactly what it sounds like: it’s aresource library of Assistive Technology that people can
“We often hear people say they bought something they saw on TV or in a catalog and they can’t get it to work the way they thought it would,” Linda said. “With the option to test drive a new tool before buying, it not only saves money, it also helps people to not buy a tool that’s not the right fit for their needs in the first place.”demo and borrow to try out at school, home or work before making the decision to buy.
“We show you the features, let you know what you it can do and, if after trying it out, you think it’s a good fit, we help you figure out the best way to buy it,” she said. “We help people make good, sound decisions.”
For example, a parent reached out because their child’s speech therapist suggested an iPad keyguard could help their daughter access her communication device with more ease. Through Pine Tree Society’s Assistive Technology Demo and Loan Library, they were able to try it for a couple of weeks to make sure it was the right fit.
“Recently, a school that was interested in utilizing a reading pen for a student contacted us to do anevaluation and demo to determine if it was going to be successful,” Linda said. “We found that it was a really good fit for this particular student. Thanks to our Assistive Technology Demo and Loan Library,
they were able to try it before making the investment. They learned it was a good decision financially and for the success of the student.”
Demos can be done in-person or remotely via Zoom and there are several options available for pickup and return, which expands access to rural areas of the state. The library also provides short-term loans while someone’s existing device is being repaired.
Pine Tree Society’s Assistive Technology Demo and Loan Libraries in Scarborough, Bath and Auburn are free and open to anyone who wants to explore technology to increase independence.
Want to learn more about Assistive Technology?
Visit www.pinetreesociety.org to watch our AT Spotlight series, featuring a variety of tools like speech watches, reading pens, voice and schedule apps on our blog at pinetreesociety.org.
An inventory of hundreds of options can be searched on the Maine CITE website: www.at4maine.org
Request a virtual or in-person demo in Scarborough, Bath or Auburn by calling Pine Tree Society at 207- 386-5930 or emailing Emily Capaldi at ecapaldi@ pinetreesociety.org.
Here is just a small list of the types of Assistive Technology available at Pine Tree Society. Call to learn more.
- Weighted gloves
- Specialized spoons for tremors
- On/off access switches
- Medication dispensers
- Adapted Xbox controllers
- Amazon Echo Dot
- Reading pads
- Reading pens
- Speech watches
- Apps such as Voiceitt and Visual Schedule Planner