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ATK brings Assistive Technology to Topeka

Monday, September 5, 2011
Ed Bell addresses the audience about his assistive technology use on his strawberry farm

In the picture, Ed Bell, Indiana strawberry farmer, talks about how
he adapts his farm routines and equipment. Ed's wheelchair also allows
him to stand and on the screen he is using a lift to transfer
to his tractor.

More than 700 people interested in assistive technology devices, services and solutions attended the 2011 Assistive Technology Expo: Active Living, Learning, and Working with AT - Conference and Exhibit Hall at the Expocentre, Topeka, September 8-9. This year's AT Expo, hosted by Assistive Technology for Kansans, offered a conference with 39 local and national presenters sharing their expertise over a wide range of topics. The Exhibit Hall brought together more than 70 vendors demonstrating a variety of cutting edge technology with the time and desire to talk to attendees about their personal technology needs.

Over and over, people found solutions. A security guard working the door at the Exhibit Hall asked one of the AT Staff, garbed in signature blue shirts, if there was an AT solution for his problem, needing help to put on his socks. The technology solution was named "sock aid", and at last report, he had filled out the paperwork to try out a sock aid at no cost from the ATK Loan Program based in Salina.

Atendees at 2012 Topeka ATK Expo

Atendees look over equipment in the main exhibit hall.

A mom and dad came with their son to tour the Exhibit Hall and met Ed Bell, Indiana strawberry farmer, Expo Keynote speaker and a representative of the standing wheelchair. With some help, the young man stood for the first time in ten years. The family photo that was snapped showed the son taller than the father, an unexpected pleasure for all.

Another family came to the Expo with the singular purpose of seeing the new adjustable Rifton feeder seat. In her conference session, Rhonda Etter, Southeast AT Access Site, Parsons, demonstrated the device and the parents were able to determine that this seat would be a good solution for their young daughter.

Sharon Morton, ATK KEE reuse coordinator, talked with a couple after they had toured the Hall. The wife said that her husband had resisted using a C-PAP device for years even though his doctor had recommended it for his health. After talking with a vendor and getting his questions answerd, her husband said their next stop would be to purchase one.

Participants at expo look over wheel chair

Participants look over new features on child's wheelchair.

Parsons was well represented at the Topeka AT Expo. Two ATK staff from the Southeast Assistive Technology Access Site, Parsons, were speakers at the Conference. Rhonda Etter presented AT Solutions for Early Childhood and Vicki Souter presented AT for Memory, Organization & Safety.

Sheila Simmons, ATK program coordinator, spoke on Physiatrist Services for Farmers and Ranchers and Kansas AgrAbility, a program to help keep farmers, ranchers and their families in business after an accident or health condition. Sandy Hill and Tammy Schoenhofer (LSI at Parsons) and Jasper Schoenhofer handed out ATK complimentary cloth bags, programs and name badges and monitored the popular door prize giveaways. Additionally, more than 25 ATK staff representing the statewide program gathered to talk about what they do every day, helping Kansans of all ages identify and obtain the assistive technology devices, services and solutions they need.

Sara Sack, ATK program director, looks forward to the next AT Expo scheduled in Wichita in September 2012. She noted that planning for the 2012 AT Expo promises an even stronger Exhibit Hall and Conference. We can hardly wait!

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