There are organizations in the U.S. that help disabled individuals overcome the problem of how to properly use an assistive device to help them perform daily activities. These devices were designed to create a higher quality of life for these individuals, but only if they have the knowledge to operate them. Since these assistive devices are changing rapidly due to technological change, organizations are having trouble keeping up with these changes, including one organization in the Greater Worcester area, Seven Hills Foundation (SHF).
Disabled individuals will use assistive technology if it is beneficial, effective, and affordable. Because of this, it becomes very important for the disabled individuals and their aides to understand different types of assistive technology. Without the knowledge of how to use these devices, the devices may not be as helpful. However, with the proper knowledge, the aides can help increase the quality of life for disabled individuals. This forms a direct relationship between an aide’s knowledge and the quality of life for a disabled individual. Our project aimed to begin to create a solution to this problem by determining whether a mini-Expo can help the aides improve their knowledge and confidence with AT so that their disabled clients would be more satisfied and empowered by the services that SHF was providing to them.
The main objective of this project was to organize and help carry out a mini-Expo so that Seven Hills could use our results to potentially put on a larger Expo. To meet this objective, we have identified the following sub-objectives. First, we needed to identify possible vendors and speakers who are contributing to helping disabled individuals and who could attend the Expo. Second, we had to determine with the Seven Hills staff all costs associated with carrying out an Expo. Third, we had to determine the effectiveness of the mini Expo as a way to help SHF design a larger Expo in the future. Finally, we wanted to determine the best means possible to help Seven Hills put on future Expos more easily. To accomplish this, we compiled all of our findings into a database with a manual that is easy to navigate, so that SHF staff could find specific information relevant to any part of the Expo planning process. To accomplish these objectives, we will be using a set of research methods. For the first objective, we will use the Seven Hills existing database to gather the frequency of each disability and choose the ones that are the most common as our target audience. To get contacts for vendors and speakers, we will research previous assistive technology Expos and look at who the vendors and speakers were at those events and how to get into contact with them. In the process of researching all of this information, a detail that would be included is calculating all of the costs associated with the vendors, speakers, and venues. To determine the success of the Expo, we plan to carry out a survey for all participants at the end of the Expo. To create an appropriate database, we will hold a survey among the staff at Seven Hills to determine what type of database, and if they want a new database or just an addition to their current database. These methods will help us achieve our stated objectives, which will lead to achieving our project goal of putting on a mini-Expo as a pilot in preparation for a larger Expo.