State unveils new accessible website

Assistive technology can help people with disabilities achieve their goals for education or employment. Funding for technology is available. Knowing […]

Assistive technology can help people with disabilities achieve their goals for education or employment. Funding for technology is available. Knowing how to find that technology and funding is easier than ever thanks to the new Minnesota System of Technology to Achieve Results or STAR Program website.

The website has lots of useful information; it includes captioned videos featuring Minnesotans with disabilities discussing their experiences, and step-by-step, easy to follow guides to information. It also includes activities to help users practice what is learned and to find the right assistive technology item to meet specific needs.

Assistive technology is a broad term that includes a wide range of devices. The STAR website is designed to teach users about assistive technology and how it can help them, a family member, coworker, or a friend live a more fulfilling life. The site was developed after program staff determined that there were only a few free and accessible learning tools specifically designed for adults with disabilities that addressed assistive technology for employment and post-secondary settings.

The site provides an introduction to assistive technology, as well as topics essential to becoming a savvy user of such technology. The site can help consumers select the right piece of technology for a specific task when there are many tools available.

The site has videos which introduce viewers to Minnesotans who use assistive technology. The persons interviewed explain how they have used and benefited from assistive technology.

Ken Rodgers works at the Minnesota Department of Transportation. At his job Rodgers uses several pieces of assistive technology throughout his day. In one video Rodgers explains why he chooses to use a Perkins Brailler to take notes for himself in preparation for a meeting.

Another person featured in videos is Autumn Paulson, a student at Normandale College. In one video she describes various programs including Partners in Policy Making, which have helped her develop advocacy skills and achieve her goals. In others, she explains how assistive technology has enabled her to participate in class with other students, and complete homework assignments.

As website users go through the videos and training, they have opportunities to complete assignments that practice the skills outlined on the site. Users also learn about contacts and resources that will address their specific needs.

Feedback from individuals with disabilities as well as information from service providers, educators, employers, and others was compiled to produce the information shared on this website.

State officials see the site and its training tools as a one-stop shop for assistive technology, with information about the process of obtaining needed tools as well as information about technology loan programs, support for those in college or seeking employment, how to connect with other users of assistive technology, information for those who are new to using assistive technology and more.

The website was funded by the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Education through the Federal Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006.

For more information, please contact the Minnesota STAR Program by calling 651-201-2640, or email star.program@state.mn.us