The Technology Access Center opened in August, 1989 as a program of United Cerebral Palsy of Middle Tennessee, and has been operated by the non-profit corporation Access Services of Middle Tennessee since 1990. The Access Services of Middle Tennessee corporation is registered as “doing business as” (d/b/a) Technology Access Center. From its inception, the center has been one of 40 community resource centers in the country that meets specific standards centered on consumer-directed services required for membership in the Alliance for Technology Access, a national organization of centers, manufacturers, and individual and organizational affiliates, all focused on assistive technology.
The Technology Access Center has been one of five assistive technology centers for individuals with disabilities in Tennessee since 1991as a part of the federally funded and state administered Tennessee Technology Access Program (TTAP). Through this program, staff members develop and provide assistive technology services including device demonstrations, short term device loans, reutilization of previously used devices, training and technical assistance, and public awareness, information, and assistance. Since 1992 the Technology Access Center has also been one of five centers in the state contracted by the Tennessee Division of Rehabilitation Services to provide assistive technology services for clients of Tennessee Vocational Rehabilitation Services and Blind Services. The center also provides services for children in early intervention programs and schools, for clients of the Veterans Administration Vocational Rehabilitation Services, and the Veterans Hospitals.
The Technology Access Center (TAC) provides technology resources and opportunities to redefine human potential by making technology a regular part of the lives of children and adults who have disabilities or functional limitations. They discover and choose technology solutions, find resources to acquire needed technology, and learn how to use it to meet their needs in daily life. Assistive technology helps individuals maintain, increase, and/or improve their functional capabilities. The focus areas at the Center are assistive technologies which help people to learn, communicate, carry out activities of daily living, control their environment, participate in recreation, and work.
1. Outreach services accomplishments from the past year:
· 67 assistive technology devices were demonstrated to 23 individuals
·238 individuals received information through public awareness events
·Technical assistance was provided to 1 educational professional and 3 IT professionals
·698 addresses receive the monthly electronic newsletter
·The TAC website was updated to provide current information to website visitors
·There were 187 responses provided to requests for information and/or referrals
·There were 157 new TAC referrals for individual services
·109 clients completed a formal assessment todetermine the best assistive technology solution to meet their needs
2. Increased numbers of devices available for loans and device trials in the Center's device library. Multiples of many devices were obtained for frequently requested items. Also, items for lower incidence disability needs were also added to the lending program.
3. TAC staff members developed an information resource document about ALS resources which was distributed at the monthly ALS clinic at Vanderbilt Medical Center.
Goals for the Current Year:
1. Our goal is to obtain additional funding to support home based assistive technology services that will prolong independent functioning for people with ALS and other neurological diseases
2. Work with committee of board members, staff, and other relevant parties to develop a new strategic plan for the Center.
3. Focus the board and staff members efforts on development of fund raising activities to support development and operations of programs that expand assistive technology services to people with disabilities in middle Tennessee.
In most instances, individuals who participate in the Individual Assistive Technology Services program are provided services in community settings where they will use the technology, i.e. home, school, employment settings. Effective use of technology is dependent on factors in the environment and context in which it will be used. Services are offered for individuals of any age beginning with children as young as 2 years of age who can benefit from adapted toys and communication tools to senior individuals who, for example, may benefit from devices to make print materials readable and aids for daily living activities. The focus is on equipping individuals with the technology tools they need for full participation in any aspect of their life – education, employment, recreation, and home and community life.
The Center began
as one of 41 Assistive Technology Community Resource Center members of the
national organization, Alliance for Technology Access, which also has Assistive
Technology Vendor, Affiliate, and Associate members. Community Resource Center
membership required compliance with a set of national standards of excellence
in consumer directed assistive technology services. The Center is one of 5
Community Resource Centers in Tennessee. The Corporation By-Laws required that
the majority of the Board Executive Committee members must be individuals with
disabilities. This requirement of disability or disability related membership
stands today. A process initiated in the fall of 2014 was begun to
develop a new 3 year strategic plan for the corporation. The new strategic plan is still in development stages.
Linda Judeich began working for
the Technology Access Center as a volunteer in 1989, the year the Center
opened. The volunteer work turned into part time assistive technology
consultation services until she became a full time staff member in 1996. Linda has over 40 years of experience working
with people with disabilities and has specialized in assistive technology since
1986. She has a master’s degree in Special Education and many hours of graduate
study beyond that degree focusing on technology. Linda worked closely with the former director
of TAC and assisted with many Center functions including direct client
services, assisting with grant writing, and serving as Director of Services. Linda served as Interim Executive Director of
the Center from September of 2014 until February 2015 when the Board selected
her as Executive Director.
The Center is one of 41 Assistive Technology Community Resource Center members of the national organization, Alliance for Technology Access, which also has Assistive Technology Vendor, Affiliate, and Associate members. Community Resource Center membership requires compliance with a set of national standards of excellence in consumer directed assistive technology services. The Corporation By-Laws require that the majority of the Board Executive Committee members must be individuals with disabilities. A process was initiated in the Spring of 2011to develop a new 3 year strategic plan for the corporation. The plan was adopted in May 2011. A new strategic plan is in development now.
Staff members require expertise in a variety of areas including disabilities, general technology, and specialized adaptive technology. Those with the necessary skills are limited and those who do have the skills often require larger salaries than are readily available at the Center. Although the staff turnover rate is very low, locating those with sufficient skills and experiences I difficult. Filling staff positions is helped by contacts made through collaborations with other disability agencies but salary issues are the main difficulty.
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
With global competition, technological changes and the growth of knowledge- and service-based economies, even entry-level jobs require more advanced skills than they did several decades ago. There is great demand for workers with education, skills training or both, but jobs that require only a high school diploma are disappearing, or the wages they pay are dropping. Schools offer limited vocational training, and graduates often lack the practical job skills employers need.
Copyright © 2014 The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee
3833 Cleghorn Avenue, Nashville, TN 37215