Mid-South ACT provides services to people with disabilities

By Tamara Williamson

Mid-South Access Center for Technology (ACT) is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing services to people with disabilities in Memphis and the Mid-South. The center is partially funded by Tennessee Technology Access Program (TTAP) and the Tennessee Department of Human Services. Mid-South ACT is located at 530 Patterson Street on the University of Memphis campus.

The center provides access to and training with assistive technology for people with disabilities. Assistive technology is defined by the Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1988 as “any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially, modified, or customized that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.” Assistive technology helps individuals with disabilities become more independent in their personal and professional lives.

Through a partnership with Mid-South ACT, TTAP uses the Reutilization program to encourage the donation, repair, and reuse of assistive technology and medical equipment for individuals with disabilities. The program is similar to Freecycle in that donated items are able to have a second life rather than wasting away in a landfill.

People can donate gently used electronic and non-electronic items such as:

  • Close Caption TVs
  • Desktops/Laptops – 512 or more MB of RAM; 1.5 or more GHz processor
  • Monitors – 15 inches or bigger
  • Speakers
  • Headphones
  • Printers
  • Keyboards/Large Print Keyboards
  • Mouse
  • Scooter/Electronic Wheelchairs
  • Low Vision Clocks
  • Talking Clocks
  • Magnifiers and Illuminated Magnifiers
  • Wheelchairs
  • Walking Canes
  • Timers
  • Braille and Blindness Aids
  • Large Print Books
  • Handheld Shower Heads
  • Anti-Glare Magnifier Screens
  • Augmentative Communication Devices 
(for individuals who are unable to speak)
  • Other durable medical equipment

Dr. Lavonnie Perry Claybon is the director of the center, which also has a loan library for those who wish to try equipment before purchasing it and a demonstration program to show new users how to utilize the equipment.

In addition to the Reutilization program, Mid-South ACT performs evaluations to determine what assistive technology devices will improve a client’s ability to function in home, school, and work environments. Professionals at the Mid-South ACT conduct evaluations, facilitate training, and have expertise in areas such as vision, literacy, early intervention, counseling, augmentative communication, seating, and positioning. Mid-South ACT also provides client training for people with disabilities, which includes instruction in the use of assistive technology and practice focused toward vocational and educational skills. Representatives from Mid-South ACT also work to spread awareness of the organization in the Memphis community.

“I organize demonstration meetings in various neighborhoods to educate people about low-tech and high-tech assistive technology devices,” said Birdia Arnett, an AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteer. “Often the people I talk to have no knowledge of Mid-South ACT. It is nice to be able to inform them about the program and its services.”

If those seeking to donate items cannot take their assistive technology equipment to the Mid-South ACT office, they can call (901) 678-1489 to arrange for a pick-up. For individuals with disabilities, Mid-South ACT is an invaluable resource that helps improve quality of life.

Mid-South ACT’s AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers will host a community outreach event at the Raymond Skinner Center in Peabody Park on August 6. This event will focus on the organization’s reutilization efforts. For additional information about Mid-South ACT, please visit memphis.edu/act.

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