2000 Conference Proceedings

Go to previous article 
Go to next article 
Return to 2000 Table of Contents


ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY: THE PATHWAY TO REACH YOUR GOALS

ROSA ESQUILIN, DIRECTOR
ATREVI CENTER
GOVERNMENT OF PUERTO RICO
VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION ADMINISTRATION
DEPARTMENT OF THE FAMILY
ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY CENTER FOR VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION AND INDEPENDENT LIVING

The Vocational Rehabilitation Administration of Puerto Rico, operates its own assistive technology center for vocational rehabilitation and independent living better known by its acronym as ATREVI.

The ATREVI Center was founded :in 1997 as part of the services provided by the Vocational Rehabilitation Administration, in compliance with the Assistive Technology Act of 1988 and its amendments. It's the first assistive technology comprehensive facility on the Island and is also a unique model center in the nation utilizing a transdisciplinary approach as a model of intervention with applicants and consumers with disabilities. Our ATREVI Center is the leader in the field of rehabilitation and assistive technology. At ATREVI, the transdisciplinary approach is the pathway to reaching our consumers' goals. This model establishes a transdisciplinary learning and service delivery approach. The consumer referred to our Center is assessed simultaneously by various professionals representing different disciplines. They all focus on one purpose: "What does the individual with a disability want to do that he/she currently cannot do?" The family and caregivers are an essential part of this team and are integral part of the process as well as other members of the community. The assessment is more longitudinal, naturalistic, process oriented, and family centered than traditional discipline-specific assessments. There is a common sample of behavior elicited from which professionals draw inferences. All the professionals come together with the goal of formulating an integrated report and consensual validated cross-disciplinary individualized plan of intervention, assessment, and recommendation of assistive technology devices and technical assistance. With this model, professionals from various disciplines work together cooperatively by educating and assessing one another in the skills and practice of their disciplines so that the team members can act as the single agent for carrying out services with a designated consumer and family member or caregiver. When you work on this team approach the different team members assume the roles and responsibilities of others disciplines by delivering the assessment/prescription process jointly developed by the team as a whole. Also this approach enhances the professionals skills of the team members with the interaction of all, discussing all aspects of the assessment process from each discipline point of view and integrating a plan from that variety of views. The consumer can benefit from the comprehensive assessment because all the aspects and needs are considered. The consumer is viewed on holistic bases, touching mind, body and spirit. Although this service delivery approach requires a considerable time for cross-sharing, planning, coordination and training of the team members to deliver the services, it is very productive in achieving goals and having success.

Our Mission is to provide access to assistive technology equipment, devices and strategies that enable persons with disabilities to reach their own personal goals, vocational rehabilitation, competitive employment, effective learning and independent living.

The Vision of the ATREVI Center' is to promote the achievement of social and economical independence for each consumer with severe physical/mental disabilities, through assistive technology equipment, devices and technical assistance promoting productivity and inclusion. An Assistive Technology device is any item, piece of equipment or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified or customized, that is used to increase, maintain or improve the functional capabilities of an individual with a disability. Assistive Technology Service is defined as: Any service that directly assist an individual with a disability in the selection, acquisition or use of an assistive technology device, including:

Information/Awareness

Our transdisciplinary team is composed of the following members:

At the conferences that we present, we show how the team interacts and the real effects of this team model and its intervention in the rehabilitation process. The consumer is benefited by this approach in terms of effectiveness, appropriateness and quality of the services provided. The outcomes are positive. A case study is the perfect evidence. Our consumers' quality of life in relation to their emotional, personal, vocational, economical and social goals are the main objectives in our service delivery. During the past year, direct services provided to our consumers concluded in recommending assistive technology devices that were matched to compensate their functional limitations. Information on how many consumers received services is provided with graphics if needed.

At our Center we have blind people working with computers with special software, we have consumers that are blind and are currently working as writers, lawyers, professors, administrators and secretaries. Its amazing to see people with multiple disabilities being independent accessing computers with special switches using their eyes, cheeks, feet or mouth, it happens at our Center. People that can't use their hands feeding themselves with an automatic electric feeding plate. A wheelchair that helps people stand up and move around so that they can feel as if they are walking. This special population that we serve through assistive technology equipment and services come out of being dependent and go out being independent and productive contributing to the social and economical well being of the island. They go to school and to the work place with the capacity and strengths they need to excel. They become self-confident and develop a high self-esteem, they have a place in this world. Life goes on with a brighter future. All of us at the ATREVI Center enjoy our jobs, its rewarding when we see the happiness and productivity in the lives of our consumers and their family members.

Our Center is different, our team is different, with assistive technology and the transdisciplinary team approach, we make the difference.

"TECHNOLOGY FOR PEOPLE WITHOUT DISABILITIES

MAKES THINGS EASIER.

TECHNOLOGY FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

MAKES THINGS HAPPEN"...

Marca Bristo

Bibliography Bain, B. K., & Ledger, D. (Ed.). (1997). Assistive Technology: An Interdisciplinary Approach. Philadelphia, Saunders.

Scherer, R. (1996). Living in the State of Stuck: How Technology Impacts the Lives of People with Disabilities,. second edition. Massachusetts: Brookline Books.

Flippo,K.,Inge,K. & BarcusJ. (1995). Assistive Technology: A Resource for School, Work, and Community,Baltimore, Maryland: Paul H. Brooks Publishing.

Galvin, J. & Scherer, M.(1996) -Evaluating, Selecting, and Using Appropriate Assistive Technology. Gaithersburg, Maryland: Aspen Publication.

Cook,A., & Hussey, S.(1995). Assistive Technologies: Principles and Practice. St. Louis, Missouri:

Levin, J. & Scherfenberg, L. (1990). Selection and Use of Simple Technology in Home, School, Work, and Community Settings. Minneapolis, RUN.: AbleNet, Inc

Hallahan, D. & Kauffman, J. (1994). Exceptional Children: Introduction to Special Education. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

Pennsylvania's Institute on Assistive Technology (1996). Leading the Way: Including assistive technology in your curriculum. Philadelphia, PA:. Assistive Technology: Frequently Asked Questions About Assistive Technology.


Go to previous article 
Go to next article 
Return to 2000 Table of Contents 
Return to Table of Proceedings


Reprinted with author(s) permission. Author(s) retain copyright.