Monthly Archives: April 2015

Are You Spring Cleaning? Consider using the!


The weather is nice outside today in my part of Michigan and it’s hard to stay inside after our long, cold winter! It really feels like Spring!Cartoon of woman holding a closet door shut while stuff is falling out

One of the things many people do in the Spring is clean and clean out. As you delve into those closets and garages, perhaps you will find still usable assistive devices that have been outgrown, replaced or no longer needed. If so consider listing these on the Michigan’s Assistive Technology Xchange web site!

The AT Xchange is a web site where people can buy, sell, or give away assistive technology (AT). The AT Xchange is open to vendors who have used equipment for sale also don’t worry about cost, AT Xchange is a free service! Check out our article on safe online buying and selling using the ATxchange: Using the ATXchange: Buying and Selling Tips.

Did you know you can also check to see if someone has posted a want ad? One the site, select “Items” and then under Item Type, select “wanted”. Some examples of items listed in the want ads include:

  • Adaptive 3 wheel youth bike – Tecumseh, MI. “We are looking to purchase an adaptive bike for our 7 year old grandson with CP.”
  • Kidwalk Dynamic Mobility System – Saginaw, MI “I need the smaller one for my small 5 year old daughter.”
  • All Terrain Wheelchair – Southfield, MI “All terrain wheelchair needed to borrow on Sat., May 23rd.  Pontiac area family reunion runs from 11 am to 4pm.  The chair needs to be pushed over grass & dirt (park).  I can do pick up & return.”

And if you need Assistive Technology to help with your Spring Cleaning, you can check out our webinar from last year on AT for Spring Cleaning!

Happy Spring Everyone!

This entry was posted in Resources and tagged ATX, Cleaning, Reuse, Want Ads on by .

Neurodiversity – More Than A Buzzword


A rainbow infinity circle that represents the diversity of the autism spectrum as well as the greater neurodiversity movement.The Michigan Assistive Technology Program (MATP) has assistive technology and device demonstrations for people who are neurodiverse.   These devices help with remembering, locating, orientation, symptom management, and safety. Examples of devices include timers, applications for tablets and smartphones, medication reminders, recording devices, note taking systems, and more.  However, people are often confused by what we mean.  Neurodiversity is the idea that all humans have differences in brain structures and the way they process information.   These differences should not necessarily be seen as problematic but as alternative differences that should be recognized and respected just as other human differences. Differences may arise in ways of processing information, including language, sound, images, light, texture, taste, or movement.

Some of you may be thinking “ok, another disability buzzword I need to know to be politically correct.”  Language in the disability community has changed and evolved over time just as it has in any other community.  It has because people have found new ways of identifying and representing themselves, in ever more empowering ways.  Neurodiversity, for example focuses upon differences that are neither good nor bad, just part of the diversity of human experiences.  The claim that “I just can’t keep up with the changing terminology”, is a pet peeve of mine.  It often makes me feel as though a person is rejecting a chance to learn and grow and use language that the person with a disability is most comfortable with and identifies more closely.

Additionally, neurodiversity is more than a word or a label, it is also a paradigm and a movement.  Nick Walker’s article Neurodiversity: Some Basic Terms & Definitions helps explain the various ways the term is being used.

What do you think of the idea of neurodiversity?



Let’s talk about shame Part 2


By Aimee Sterk, LMSW, MATP Staff

About a month ago, I started a discussion on shame and disability and how it relates to use of AT. Shame impacts how we see ourselves as people with disabilities and how/if we use assistive technology (AT). Shame’s opposite is owning oneself and one’s story and still feeling worthy. Addressing shame involves practicing shame resilience by naming it, talking about it, owning and telling one’s story (Brown, 2010).

Unfortunately, many people with disabilities are not given this opportunity. Whether born with a disability, acquiring it at a young age or as an adult or older adult; most interventions for people with disabilities focus on health and access: getting assistive technology, treating chronic conditions, advocating for access to school and work. None of these addresses the key components of shame resilience:  talking about shame and moving forward from there to tell one’s own story—as a person with a disability. Through shame resilience, we as people with disabilities can develop self-pride and the ability to be authentic. This includes not hiding one’s disability, not feeling ashamed of it; instead, naming it as a key piece of one’s identity for which one has, or is working to have, pride.

Media messages convey societal views of the lives of people with disabilities. Facebook is rife with images of people with disabilities as objects of “inspiration porn”. “Inspiration porn is an image of a person with a disability, often a kid, doing something completely ordinary – like playing, or talking, or running, or drawing a picture, or hitting a tennis ball – carrying a caption like “your excuse is invalid” or “before you quit, try” or “the only disability in life is a bad attitude”.

The intent of this inspiration porn; it’s there so that non-disabled people can put their worries into perspective. So they can go, “Oh well if that kid who doesn’t have any legs can smile while he’s having an awesome time, I should never, EVER feel bad about my life”. It’s there so that non-disabled people can look at us and think “well, it could be worse… I could be that person”.

In this way, these modified images exceptionalise and objectify those of us they claim to represent. It’s no coincidence that these genuinely adorable disabled kids in these images are never named: it doesn’t matter what their names are, they’re just there as objects of inspiration.

But using these images as feel-good tools, as “inspiration”, is based on an assumption that the people in them have terrible lives, and that it takes some extra kind of pluck or courage to live them…

And there’s the rub. My everyday life in which I do exactly the same things as everyone else should not inspire people, and yet I am constantly congratulated by strangers for simply existing (Young, 2012).


Eli Clare’s in his book, Exile and Pride, comments on the effects of the stories.

The non-disabled world is saturated with these stories… they focus on disabled people “overcoming” our disabilities. They reinforce the superiority of the non-disabled body and mind. They turn individual disabled people who are simply leading their lives into symbols of inspiration…  [The] stories never focus on the conditions that make it so difficult… I don’t mean medical conditions. I mean material, societal, legal conditions. I mean lack of access, lack of employment, lack of personal attendant services. I mean stereotypes and attitudes. I mean oppression… [Underneath stories of inspiration] lies pity, tragedy, and the nursing home. Disabled people know this, and in our process of knowing, some of us internalize the crap. We make [inspiration] our own… as a shield, a protection, as if this individual internalization could defend us against disability oppression…. To transfer self-hatred into pride is a fundamental act of resistance.

It is only after taking the steps to scrutinize and refute these internal and external voices labeling us with pity, and as recipients of care, living lives to be avoided, that we became comfortable with the totality of who we are as people with disabilities. Developing disability pride offers an alternative view where we are not forced to live in shame. Understanding who we are as people with disabilities also allows us to consider how our disability identity intersects with our other identities including race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and class. Many people with disabilities face additional oppression from the communities of their other identities—race, gender, sexuality.

Have you scrutinized the voices you hear and listen to about yourself as a person with a disability? Have you taken a look at the intersections of your many identities and the impact on how you see yourself, if you have pride, if you reject inspiration porn? How do these relate to your use of assistive technology?


Can you see it now?


When a small child I had only 2% vision in one eye. No matter how you measure that, by field of vision, acuity, or with a generic “low vision” description, that was so little, that I constantly was asked what I could see.

So what is low vision or legal blindness?

  • Most A magnifing glass over a paper says "Low Vision"eye care professionals prefer to use the term “low vision” to describe permanently reduced vision that cannot be corrected with regular glasses, contact lenses, medicine, or surgery.
  • Legal blindness/low vision
  • Criteria for BSBP

It is the low vision definition that functionally describes the need for assistive technology, and there is an incredible array of magnification options.  Hardware like a close circuit TV, or standalone magnification system for reading, software for a computer system, and options for our mobile tablets and devices.

  • Magnification devices and software
  • Android magnification
  • Apple Accessibility Page

First, what issues should be considered? Beware of glare and the size of a monitor or screen, color contrast options, or reverse white on black, field of view, and lighting. If using an Apple or Android device check the built-in magnification first. Apps may be a good supplement to the built-in options.

This is clearly not a one size fits all but there is help!  MDRC has 4 low vision demonstrations kits available across the state to help explore some options. You can also seek assistance from the state’s Bureau of Services for Blind Persons if you are legally blind. Some vendors have showrooms, and many low vision specialist have products to display.

  • low vision specialists
  • low vision products

We strongly discourage buying a magnification product for someone without their ability to try it first. It is also important to get an assessment to determine if your vision is stable, if treatment options can help, and get appropriate referrals for school work or home maker assistance.
Low vision covers a very wide range of complexities, and the truth is it is very difficult to tell someone “what you can see” in comparison to their full range of vision.

Do you use low vision tools? How did you make your decision on what to use?