As the Assistive Technology Coordinator at Central Coast Center for Independent Living, I have the unique opportunity to find AT solutions for people and make their independent living opportunities a little easier. Sometimes it can be as simple as providing the person a
phone number to call or website to visit, but most often it
involves advocacy with a vendor or a managed care provider. The biggest challenge has been to find funding
solutions and devices that neither the person nor I know exist. This was the
last challenge that I had with my consumer, Juan Jose Morales.
|Juan Jose Morales|
Juan Jose lives with a diagnosis of C3 Quadriplegia meaning that he has total paralysis below his neck. He needs 24 hour around the clock care including one of the most basic human needs, access to drinking water. Whenever he needs to hydrate he needs someone to provide water to him. This is easy when he has the assistance of VNAs, but very difficult when he is out at the mall, at the movies, or exploring tourist attractions such as Cannery Row.
|Camelbak water delivery system|
After doing some internet research, I found many devices that met his needs. We decided to focus on one device that was sold from a vendor whom we had success in working with in the past. The device was a modified camelback with a sip and puff tubing. The device held enough water for a day trip and could be mounted to his power chair. The only problem was that we needed to find the funds to pay for it.
The device is not terribly expensive, but for someone living on a fixed and limited income it would take months of saving to be able to afford it. We had to think outside of the box. We looked into crowd-sourced funding and decided to reach out to the millions of people around the world using the internet. Crowd-sourcing is the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people.
There are many different crowd-funding sources with different goals, missions and business models. As a nonprofit organization we decided to give modestneeds.org a try. Modest needs is a well-established site that has been around for awhile and has made a huge impact to thousands of Americans over the last twelve years.
We gathered the necessary personal documents from Juan Jose Morales, a quote from the vendor and wrote quick summary of why Jose needed the financial assistance. Within 72 hours the application was fully funded, thanks to the generosity of the donating visitors to the website. The funds were then sent to the vendor and Juan Jose received his camelbak hydration system directly from the vendor.
Juan Jose now has the ability to drink water independently wherever he is - something that he was not able to do in over 10 years!
Do you have an AT funding success story? Share it in the comment box below!