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Assistive Technology

Assistive Technology is an area that I hold in high regard as the parent of a child who is on the autism spectrum. I have used some of the tools available to help him with his struggles and have seen hands-on how technology can assist in making tasks easier and more productive for people with disabilities.

In 2013 Small Dog became the only company authorized to sell iPads in Vermont with Medicaid accepted as payment. These orders come in the form of authorizations from Medicaid as prescribed by speech and language pathologists (SLP) across the state. For right now the iPad is only approved by Medicaid as a speaking device, however; there are programs in place looking to expand the uses to other people with disabilities, these include blind and vision impaired, hearing impaired, autism spectrum and more.

In addition to Medicaid we also work closely with Vermont Assistive Technology (VAT), which is a state government agency tasked with cataloging all the items that fall in this very broad category. They provide consulting, information, demonstration and a 30-day trial period to the public. As of today they have catalogued over 21,000 items.

VAT recently reached out to me and asked if Small Dog would take on a role to offer more products and support services in this area as they do not have the resources or budget to do so. Naturally, we said YES! This is a great opportunity for Small Dog Electronics to expand into this field and offer some unique products that truly can change the end-users lives considerably. Having worked with Medicaid for the last several years we have found that procuring the items needed is very difficult. There is no central distribution for these products as many are manufactured by small businesses that specialize in very specific areas. Working with VAT we will strive to offer as many of these products and services that are attainable and make sense.

Some examples of products we have recently sold are the RJ Cooper Magic Arm. This is a wheelchair or desk-mounted iPad solution that allows a nonverbal person to communicate their needs through the iPad. The App we used for this solution is
Proloquo2go.

The Tecla Shield gives those with limited upper body mobility (due to disability or disease) access to their touchscreen devices. Tecla makes it possible to use iOS and Android smartphones and tablets, as well as computers. All are accessible via assistive buttons, switches or wheelchair driving controls. You can see a video of this here

With VAT listing over 21,000 products there is a vast array of products offered to assist people with all sorts of disabilities. Examples of some of the devices available are large print keyboards for the visually impaired, antimicrobial cases for hospitals and caregivers, computer, tablet and display mounts, rugged cases with built in speakers, keyguards for iPads, smart pens for dictation, head pointers, cameras that replace the need for a mouse and more. Another area of focus will be Apple’s Home Kit. The hardware and software taking advantage of this solution are a perfect fit for those with limited mobility and control. We will be able to design a home setting that reacts to the end users needs without having to move around more then needed.

Small Dog Electronics has identified assistive technology as an important area for our company to refine and specialize our offerings. Don has asked me to head up this initiative for the company and I am thrilled to be able to find tools that will make life easier for so many people. This is really a situation where new technology can make a real difference in these lives. If you want more information or have suggestions, I urge you to write me directly, Rob@smalldog.com.

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