As part of its mission to improve the quality of life for Floridians with disabilities by increasing access to assistive technology, the Florida Alliance for Assistive Services and Technology, Inc. (FAAST) has awarded two grants to support the University of Miami Health System Mailman Center for Child Development’s Assistive Technology program.
“Assistive Technology has the power to change the lives of individuals with disabilities by allowing them to be more independent in education, employment, recreation, and daily living,” said Michelle Schladant, Ph.D., assistant director of the Mailman Center.
But access to AT — defined as any products, equipment, and systems that enhance learning, working, and daily living for persons with disabilities — remains a challenge across the globe, particularly for people with disabilities from diverse backgrounds such as race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.
Providing Wide-Ranging Service
With the new funding from FAAST, the Mailman Center will continue to serve as the group's South Florida Regional Demonstration Center, which it has done since 2009. It will now also serve as the FAAST Broward Regional Demonstration Center.
It will build upon its long-standing history of assistive technology services to increase lifelong access for individuals with disabilities. It will also rely on an interdisciplinary team of AT experts, bilingual staff, and strong community partnerships to provide culturally and linguistically responsive services for individuals with disabilities in South Florida, where English is not the first language for 60 percent of the population.
“Central to this initiative will be greater coordination and collaboration among the center’s community partners and use of accessible telehealth technology to provide an integrated continuum of services that enable individuals with disabilities in Miami-Dade, Monroe and Broward counties to learn about, try, and obtain AT to better meet their needs,” Dr. Schladant said.
The Mailman Center has provided assistive technology training and services to graduate students, practicing professionals, caregivers, family members, and individuals with disabilities for more than 25 years. Over the last five years, the center has provided AT services to more than 6,000 individuals with disabilities, family members, and professionals across 22 counties.
Services provided by the Mailman Center Assistive Technology program include a device lending library, device demonstrations, skills development trainings, and public awareness activities including information and referrals designed to promote education, employment, community living, and training.