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The News Chair

Access to Sports for One and All

WindsurfingThrough our work with the INDATA Project at Easter Seals Crossroads, I recently had the privilege to interview the program director of an organization called AccesSportAmerica.

Founded in 1995, AccesSport is a unique organization promoting the physical and athletic potential of children and adults with disabilities through high-challenge sports and training.

Tiffany Whisner

Tiffany Whisner

It really was eye-opening to learn about all the ways this organization is making sports accessible — more than 2,000 children and adults join the programs offered each year, taking part in everything from adaptive windsurfing and canoeing to soccer, cycling and tennis.

Here are some statistics:

  • Only 12% of adults with a disability meet the minimum physical activity recommendations of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five or more days/week or 20 minutes of rigorous activity at least three days/week.
  • Physical inactivity among people with disabilities has been linked to an increase in the severity of disability and decreased involvement in the community.
  • Presently, there are approximately one billion persons with disabilities in the world, or 15% of the global population.
  • People with disabilities are less likely to engage in regular moderate physical activity than people without disabilities yet they have similar needs to promote their health and prevent unnecessary diseases.

Read the full article written for INDATA here!

And consider supporting this organization, which makes all the difference to their programs and staff.

Cycling“My favorite part of working for AccesSport is the lifelong friendships I make with the athletes,” said Program Director Nate Berry. “It’s extremely rewarding to see them gain function, not only physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. There is no greater feeling than seeing the confidence our athletes gain when they realize they are able to do something, either for the first time or that they haven’t accomplished in years. This feeling is contagious and is constantly spread throughout the AccesSport community, and I get just as much, if not more, out of being a part of it all as they do.”

 

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Making an Impact with Assistive Technology

Tiffany Whisner

Tiffany Whisner

One of the clients I have the privilege of working with is the INDATA Project at Easter Seals Crossroads, a program that provides information and access to assistive technology for Hoosiers with disabilities–at no charge.

Not only have I learned about what amazing services INDATA offers those people in need throughout Indiana, but I have also been able to highlight some wonderfully talented individuals who are truly making an impact in the world, particularly the world of assistive technology.

Assistive technology is equipment to improve or maintain a person’s independence; provide a better quality of life; and assist a person in becoming more productive in his or her community.

Laura Medcalf with her dog, WinnieIn July, I talked with Laura Medcalf, the social media content specialist for the INDATA Project. Diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy when she was four and then in a wheelchair, Laura continued to put herself out there to new opportunities and experiences. From camp to college, Laura learned to express herself in a way only she knows how. And now she gets the unique opportunity to combine her love of helping people with her love of writing at INDATA.

“Assistive technology helps people with disabilities live a more independent life,” she said. “INDATA has so many resources and specialists to guide people throughout the state of Indiana with all different kinds of technology, no matter the disability.” Read more of Laura’s story here. Find out why her favorite quote is: “If you can dream it, you can do it.”

Dr. Therese Willkomm with AT toolsThen, in August, I talked with Dr. Therese Willkomm, Ph.D., ATP. She is called “The MacGyver of Assistive Technology,” and has provided and managed assistive technology services for more than 25 years. Inspired by her dad, Dr. Willkomm is the inventor of more than 1,000 different assistive technology solutions for people with disabilities.

She was recently at INDATA for a special training where she introduced her latest book, “Assistive Technology Solutions in Minutes II: Ordinary Items, Extraordinary Solutions.” It is filled with hundreds of color photographs of innovative fabrication techniques and step-by-step instructions for fabricating AT solutions for home, school, work and play.

“Assistive technology helps people with disabilities maintain their health, safety and independence at home and in the community,” she said. “It helps students get their education, go on to higher learning and be successful. It helps create employment opportunities and makes it possible to have a fruitful career. It levels the playing field and helps empower people with disabilities to do and achieve more than they ever thought possible.” Read more of Dr. Willkomm’s story here.

Would you like to learn more about assistive technology and all the INDATA Project has to offer people with disabilities and their families? Check out the INDATA Project website!

Their next full-day, FREE training session is next week on Sept. 11 … and it will give attendees the opportunity to learn how to make play accessible for children with special needs. You can register here. For those who’d like to learn more about adaptive toys that help children with disabilities learn and develop, you won’t want to miss this free training!

 

 

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INDATA Project Shares Disability Awareness Message

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The INDATA Project at Easter Seals Crossroads is a Coles client and provides information and access to assistive technology, at no charge, for Hoosiers with disabilities.

 

Assistive technology is any item, piece of equipment or product system that is used to increase, maintain or improve the capabilities of people with disabilities.

 

With March as Disability Awareness Month, INDATA continues to share its message with individuals with disabilities and their families throughout the state of Indiana.

 

INDATA’s core services include:

  • Information and referrals
  • Funding assistance
  • Public awareness and education
  • Device demonstration
  • Device loans
  • Device reutilization

 

“Ensuring individuals with disabilities and their families are aware of the full array of resources available to increase their independence is critically important,” said INDATA Director Wade Wingler. “The INDATA Project at Easter Seals Crossroads is committed to participating in disability awareness activities throughout the month of March. We want to share our message of how assistive technology tools can make an enormous difference in the lives of people with disabilities of all ages.”

 

INDATA also provides low-interest, extended rate financial loans to qualified individuals through the Alternative Financing Program (AFP).

 

The loans are used to purchase assistive technology devices such as:

  • Wheelchairs
  • Motorized scooters
  • Hearing aids
  • Augmentative communication devices
  • Braille equipment
  • Computers
  • Motor vehicle/home modifications

 

How can you learn more about INDATA? Visit www.eastersealstech.com. Each Monday, INDATA produces a new assistive technology video on its YouTube Channel.

 

INDATA produces two weekly podcasts — Assistive Technology Update and Accessibility Minute. Check them out!

 

They also operate a 24/7 resource for assistive technology information on Assistive Technology Radio. Listen now!

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