By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterOctober 15, 2012
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (October 11, 2012) -- The Exceptional Family Member Program teamed up with the Equal Opportunity Office to bring back the Assistive Technology Expo to Fort Rucker that features the latest technology to help disabled active-duty military members, Families and the civilian workforce.
The expo will be in the lobby of Bldg. 5700 Oct. 17 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., where people can explore some assistive technologies that different agencies will have on display, as well as talk to representatives and ask questions, said Marion Cornish, EFMP manager.
"This expo is an opportunity for different agencies to come on Fort Rucker and show different devices that help individuals with various types of disabilities, and help improve their quality of life," she said. "Representatives from these agencies will be on hand to answer any questions that people might have about certain disabilities or any technologies that they might need to help their loved one."
Assistive technology is any type of technology that can be used to assist disabled people, ranging from a modified computer program for someone with a learning disability, or a doorbell that turns on a light for the hearing impaired, according to the EFMP manager.
"It can be anything really," said Cornish. "It could be something as simple as modifying the settings on an electronic device to meet someone's specific needs. It doesn't have to be a physical piece of hardware, it can be software related as well."
The expo comes about in conjunction with National Disability Employment Awareness Month and offers an interactive way for people to get information about assistive technology rather than having a static display or pamphlets for people to read, said the EFMP manager.
"The goal is to get more outreach and more awareness," she said. "If we read something on a piece of paper or just in an email, it's not going to be as well received. By having the representatives there, it will be more a more involved type of learning and people can ask their questions."
One of the agencies that will be participating in the expo is the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation, which will have two representatives from two different departments in their organization: children's rehabilitation services and vocational services.
"This is just an example of one organization that will be there to assist people," said Cornish. "The people from the children's side will have information on how to help children become more mobile and successful in their daily lives, and those on the vocational side can talk to people with disabilities and inform them on how they could either get into the workforce, or if they are already in the workforce, how they can go about getting assistance if they need some form of assistive technology."
Something that will be different at this year's expo is the inclusion of the Veteran's Administration, which Cornish said was a welcome addition.
"I'm really excited about the having the Veteran's Administration representative at this year's expo because we do have a lot of veterans here on Fort Rucker," she said. "If any veterans are looking for employment opportunities, this is a good opportunity for them to come out and ask about it. We want to appeal to everybody this year."
Appealing to more than just active-duty military and their Families is one of the main goals of the expo, which is why EEO wants to encompass the civilian workforce and reach out and educate a broader audience, said Cornish.
"Sometimes Families may not be aware that they have a loved one with special needs, or some Families might not know that some of these [assistive technologies] exist," she said. "Once we're able to expose them to some of the possibilities or agencies that might be able to assist them, it helps them in the long run."