Vendors and students interact at the Assistive Technology Fair.

At right, Brenda Bennett, front, and Brenda Quairiere, in back, introduced students, faculty, and members of the public to assistive equipment they offer through their company, Transportation Solutions.

Image: Penn State

Assistive Technology Fair showcases equipment for those with disabilities

An Assistive Technology Fair was held at Penn State DuBois on Thursday, 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 hope members of the public who have needs for such information and devices could benefit from a one-stop environment where they could gather information.

LuAnn Demi, senior instructor in the Penn State DuBois Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) program, said, “The intention is for people to get a better understanding of the technology available to help people who have limitations or disabilities. There’s no way our students or the community could see all of this if we didn’t pull it all together in one place. And this shows that you can have physical limitations, but there’s probably equipment out there that can help you do whatever you want to do.”

Demi’s point was well illustrated by Brenda Bennett who represented her company, Transportation Solution, at the event. Her work focuses on customizing cars for people who need specialized equipment to drive.

“We have modified vehicles that can accommodate people with almost any challenge,” Bennett said. “Brain injury, stroke, amputees, we can equip vehicles to be driven by people facing all those and more. A lot of people assume that because they have a disability, they just won’t be able to drive, and that’s not true.”

Demi added that her students are required to attend the Assistive Technology Fair, to get a first-hand look at items they’ll likely use in their future careers in Occupational Therapy. She 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."