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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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Assistive Technology Gets an Upgrade

March is Disability Awareness Month — increasing awareness and promoting independence, integration and inclusion of all people with disabilities.


According to the Indiana Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities, adults and children with disabilities represent slightly more than 19 percent of Indiana’s population. This is the 25th year for Disability Awareness Month, and Hoosiers who want to make a difference can get involved in activities and events throughout the month.


I have the privilege of working with the INDATA Project at Easter Seals Crossroads as one of our clients. And they just recently opened a new technology lab for people with disabilities. From home automation devices and wearable gadgets to robotics, the INDATA Project is making assistive technology accessible and user-friendly for everyone, particularly to those people with disabilities.



“The big challenge is getting people to realize every device someone without a disability can use for convenience can also be used by someone with a disability to enhance that person’s quality of life and independence,” said Brian Norton, the manager of clinical assistive technology at Easter Seals Crossroads. “Assistive technology can have a profound impact on how a person with a disability interacts with people and their environment, excels in school, and performs in the workplace.”


INDATA1It was amazing to watch the robots and high-tech devices capture the attention of people who came to the open house as well as the media, who highlighted the new lab on air and through social media. And this technology is available to all — the INDATA Project offers loan-interest loans, funding options and an equipment lending library to Hoosiers with disabilities.


“We want people to understand assistive technology doesn’t have to be super expensive,” said INDATA Director Wade Wingler. “This technology lab is a great way to show off the best AT in the most approachable and user-friendly way possible.”


For more information about INDATA, visit www.eastersealstech.com.




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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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