By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterOctober 3, 2013
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (October 3, 2013) -- Improving the quality of life of Soldiers and Families has long been part of the Fort Rucker and Army mission, and that mission remains the same when it comes to people with disabilities in the workplace on the installation.
The Exceptional Family Member Program and the Fort Rucker Equal Employment Opportunity Office are observing National Disability Employment Awareness Month with the Assistive Technology Expo in the Soldier Service Center atrium Oct. 9 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., which will showcase difference assistive technologies that can make the lives of those with disabilities easier, according to Marion Cornish, EFMP manager.
"This expo is to make the public, specifically the Fort Rucker community, aware of individuals who have disabilities in the workplace," said Cornish. "Sometimes managers and supervisors might not necessarily know what devices (can assist their employees), and this expo is there to bring some awareness to our local resources."
Assistive technology is any type of device that can be used to assist people with disabilities, said Cornish. These devices can range from a modified computer program for someone with a learning disability, or a doorbell that turns on a light for the hearing impaired.
"The goal is to get more outreach," she said. "If we read something on a piece of paper or just email, it's not going to be as well received. By having the representatives there and the technology there for people to see, it will be a more involved type of learning."
The expo will feature devices that people can touch, feel and learn about, and subject-matter experts will also be on hand for people to chat with to gather more information about specific technologies.
"This is to help people in the Fort Rucker community improve their quality of life, whether it be seeking employment or finding some devices that may make their lives easier," said Cornish. "I believe there is a lot of misinformation out there, and most of it is just that people want to help but they don't know what to do."
By providing information about technologies, the expo can provide a network for people to talk to in order to get what they need, said the EFMP manager.
The expo will have an array of vendors from The Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind, Children's Rehabilitation Services, Vocational Rehabilitation Services and even Veteran Affairs.
Representatives from these various organizations will also be on hand to answer any questions and provide information on how their services can help those with specific disabilities.
Cornish said that she wants those with disabilities to understand that they are just a capable and provide just as much contribution as everybody else.
"Those with special needs and those that have disabilities are worthwhile people that have a lot to contribute to, not only the Fort Rucker community, but to society as a whole," she said. "This is all about awareness because those individuals that have disabilities can still accomplish a lot of things and lead a good quality of life."
The expo is also a good opportunity for veterans to get information on needs that they might have.
"Veterans may not be aware that there are programs available that can assist them," said Cornish. "They will have the opportunity to talk to representatives from the VA and find out what process they have to go through to get what they need."
Exposing people to the different type of technologies and services is the first step to helping, said Cornish.
"Once we're able to expose them to some of the possibilities or agencies, that's what helps them in the long run," she said.