Students, patients learn about latest technology for those with disabilities

Mike Jacobson demonstrates new technology that can help people to complete tasks at work, or at home.

Assistant District Administrator with the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation Mike Jacobson demonstrates new technology that can help people to complete tasks at work or at home, at Penn State DuBois on Thursday.

Credit: Penn State

DUBOIS, Pa. — An Assistive Technology Fair was held at Penn State DuBois on Thursday, Nov. 9, hosted jointly by the campus Occupational Therapy Club and the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry's Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR).

The event featured a dozen vendors from around the area who offer specialized equipment to assist people with special needs in completing tasks around their home, in the classroom, or at work.

The fair was open to the public, and featured live demonstrations of devices, as well as opportunities to learn how to properly evaluate assistive technology needs. Representatives from local providers, as well as OVR, were also on hand to provide consultation and information.

Featured equipment included wheelchairs and lifts, specialized keyboards and other computer equipment, household upgrades such as accessible bathroom fittings, and more.

Organizers hoped members of the public who have need for such information and devices could benefit from a one-stop environment.

Mike Jacobson, the assistant district administrator for OVR said, "This is about raising awareness. When people think about this kind of technology, they usually just think about things like helping people get up stairs or out of bed. There's much more than that. There are devices that help people at work, to participate in hobbies and leisure, and more. It's about getting people in here to see what technology can do for them."

For students in the Penn State DuBois Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) program, as well as the Occupational Therapy club, the firsthand experience benefits their education and helps them to become familiar with devices they'll likely use in their careers to assist patients.

LuAnn Demi, senior instructor in the OTA program said, "There's only so much we can present to students in terms of equipment when we're in the classroom. There's so much high tech equipment here. These are things that we otherwise may only be able to show them in a book. Here, they can be hands-on with it. To have this opportunity for the students to see these things is great."