In today’s technology-driven society, advancements are assisting people’s lives beyond what is seen in a typical home or office. Braille printers, electronic magnifiers and custom-fitted wheelchairs are just some of the devices that have been created to fill needs in the lives of people with certain disabilities.
As part of Development Disabilities Awareness Month, the Guam System for Assistive Technology (GSAT) program — administered by the University of Guam Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research and Service — hosts the Annual Assistive Technology Fair to gather not just technological resources but all community resources available for individuals with disabilities and their families in one accessible location.
“We have our usual folks … but every year we tend to get something new and different,” said Carla Torres, assistive technology and special projects program coordinator for GSAT.
Last year it was a dental hygienist who had created “Gumchucks,” a product he personally designed that makes flossing a simpler task with the use of handles. In a prior year, a vendor was demonstrating an interactive assistive technology gadget to help children balance their meals.
The fair had around 33 vendors and some 50-plus tables, demonstrating devices and software in the areas of communication, function and mobility and advertising resources for employment services, support groups and various types of therapists and vocational rehabilitation.
In its 22nd year, the fair usually has a good turnout, and this year was no different, Torres said.
“In the work that we do, just getting [in contact with] even one or two new families is always worth it,” she said.
The GSAT Annual Assistive Technology Fair was held March 18 at the Micronesia Mall.
In its missions to enhance the independence, productivity and quality of life for disabled individuals, GSAT does seem to be getting its resources into the hands of those who need them, Torres said. In her seven years with the center, she has seen the clientele grow, and those clients’ use for the center has expanded beyond just device demonstrations to actual procurement of devices — whether purchased themselves or through a funding source, such as GSAT’s loans for AT equipment, home modifications and startup businesses.
To wrap up Development Disabilities Awareness Month, GSAT will host its first-ever Open House, starting at 9 a.m. on March 30 at House #19 in the Dean’s Circle at the University of Guam. Additionally, the Guam Development Disabilities Council will be hosting a Family Fun Day Party & Vendor Display from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on March 31 at the GDDC Office in Room 18 of the Castle Mall, Mangilao.
Watch KUAM's five part series on Development Disabilities Month, which features the
University of Guam Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education,
Research, and Service.