2005 Conference Proceedings

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DEVELOPING ASSISTIVE DEVICES IN THE WORK SETTING FOR DEVELOPMENTALLY DIFFERENT ADULTS

Presenter(s)
Alan Darveaux
J. Iverson Riddle Developmental Center
300 Enola Rd.
Morganton, NC 28655
Phone: 828 438-6465
Email: alandx@vistatech.net

Work is an integral part of American society. A report published in the AAMR News and Notes Nov/Dec 1999 titled "When People with Disabilities Work, America Also Benefits", details benefits government and society gain.

Our days are governed, challenged and satisfied by the work in which we all engage. Our developmentally different population grows up seeing their parents go off to work just as the rest in the family does. These values of a work ethic are incidentally passed on and nurtured as a way of life in our society. As our youngsters grow up they actively engage in pursuing work opportunities. Some plan on joining the work force immediately after high school. Others attend community colleges in pursuit of jobs locally. And still others plan to attend college seeking an avenue of preferred interest in a career.

Our developmentally different population, especially our severe and profound, requires an extra effort on our part to become an active and contributing member of this working society. Laws of late have tried to ensure all handicapped individuals have access to a preferred job and must not be discriminated against in pursuing a job of choice. This challenge is complicated by the severity of each handicap. Presently those individuals with severe and profound differences are being served through the group home and sheltered workshop model. Some states are still serving those in an institutional setting. As technology increases and reduces the number of workers required for a given job, we are challenged to avail our developmentally different adults with work opportunities. Many of our individuals can gain access to the service orientated work force in the areas of cleaning, housekeeping, food preparation, office maintenance. Still others are able to engage in nursery, greenhouse and other manually orientated work. For those with disabilities that limit movement and mental capacities the challenge becomes much greater.

Assistive technology in the field of work plays an integral part in individuals with severe and profound differences gaining access to the work force. Identifying preferences exhibited in an activity are the keys to establishing a meaningful work experience. Adapting existing job skills and creating assistive devices is the key to enabling our folks to engage in the work force. Job skills can be task analyzed and those individuals showing a preference for a given task can be evaluated and assistive devices developed to allow participation more independently in that preferred work skill. The same holds true for leisure activities. Preferences can be identified and assistive devices developed for a more independent participation in that chosen leisure activity.

Summary:

This session will present a number of case studies in identifying, assessing, developing and implementing assistive devices in the area of work and leisure for developmentally different adults. The feeling of belonging and participating in the work force crosses all barriers of handicaps. Practical examples will be presented of low tech adaptations enabling individuals to participate more independently in chosen activities. Providers and teachers looking for practical ways to include their population in worthwhile work will be the focus. The goal of the SCRAP approach in assistive technology in the work setting for our developmentally different adults is to demonstrate and inform practitioners of a system that assesses work preferences, abilities and leads to the design and development of a specific assistive device at minimal cost. Examples of jigs and devices from manual to switch activated will be demonstrated.

Selecting Creative Resources in Assisted Participation- SCRAP abstract has been submitted and accepted for presentation at the following conferences and workshops:
Closing The Gap-2002, 03, 04
Assistive Technology And Integration Nova Scotia-ATAINS 2002
Colorado Collaborative Assistive Technology Conference-2004
State of TN, Dept.of Mental Retardation-2004


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