Assistive Technology and Me

The following article was written by Andrew with help from the manager of his program.  Andrew lives in a Venture residence in Worcester County and wanted to share his experience with using assistive technology.

Every day, I rely on assistive technology.  I use an overhead barrier-free lift system to get out of bed in the morning.  I then use my customized wheelchair to successfully complete my morning routines before leaving for work.  To get to work, I ride in a customized van.  The van lifts me off the ground and into the van with staff assistance.   When I was younger, all of these things – getting out of bed, getting into my wheelchair, and getting into any mode of transportation – were done by people lifting me.  When people lift you, it can be really scary and sometimes I was injured.  I have not gotten injured since I started using mechanical lifts and I feel much more comfortable.

In April 2017, I wanted to begin doing some races, but wasn’t sure I would be able to.  However, I did not realize that specialized running wheelchairs are available.  The first time I saw the running chair, I was a bit nervous.  I thought, “It doesn’t look like any other chair I have ever used.”  It only has three wheels – two in the back and one in the front.

I was very lucky to meet the team of individuals who designed and built these running chairs, and they explained aerodynamics to me.  Until that moment, I had never realized the importance of science in assistive technology.

When I participate in races with the assistance of Team Hoyt New England runners, I am sitting in an aerodynamically correct position for both my physical needs and for the person who is pushing me – amazing!  Later this summer, I will be learning to sail on a sailboat that has been fitted with assistive lifts to get in and out of the boat, and a rudder that has been adapted for me to use.  I can’t wait… And I am no longer scared of trying any new assistive technology!

Venture’s Newest Program

Venture Community Services strives to empower individuals with disabilities by providing them with resources and support in community-based residences across Massachusetts.  Through innovative practices, expertly trained staff, and cutting-edge facilities, we provide opportunities to those we support by helping them navigate the path toward self-determination.  Staff members teach skills in most areas of daily living, including personal care, medication management, meal preparation, budgeting, safety, public transportation, emotional and physical wellness, access to community services, recreational activities, and job coaching.  Venture also offers clinical services that assist each individual in reaching their goals.

In October 2015, Venture will open a program that has been custom-built for the population it will support.  Despite the development being partially funded by state contracts, which has been a successful model for Venture in the past, there are further upgrades and additions that will improve the quality of life for residents.  Although the state contracts fund necessities like cookware, couches, and microwave, there are still many items that cannot be accommodated.  Items such as a Smart Board, Wii gaming system, sound system with headphones, basketball hoop, exercise equipment and swing can provide recreational opportunities while meeting the sensory needs of the individuals.  It is our goal to provide an environment in which these individuals will thrive.  Therefore, during the process of completing this new home, Venture will be working to secure funding from private sources that will assist in making this facility the best environment possible for these individuals.

Venture has identified four young men who will be moving into the new program and exploring their independence for the first time.  Our multidisciplinary team of medical professionals and clinicians work together with the individual, their guardians, physicians, and service coordinator to develop an individualized plan for each person based upon their unique needs and interests.  Venture is looking forward to offering these young men the opportunity to have a home they can call their own.  Like many people in their early twenties, they are eager to start their lives independently of their parents and families, begin to explore the world around them, make decisions about their own lives and discover who they are.

If you are interested in helping Venture to prepare the home for its new residents with either a monetary or in-kind donation, please contact Paige Billings at (774) 922-1135 or pbillings@venturecs.org.


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