By Audie Launer

How she came to work in Springfield:

While in her position at United Cerebral Palsy Association, (UCPA), Willie worked traveling all around the United States to train UCPA affiliates on technology for infants and preschool-aged children with disabilities. Alongside a UCLA intervention program, she helped design software that could be used with switches and other devices for infants and preschoolers to learn cause and effect and other developmentally and age-appropriate milestones.

Among the visited UCP affiliated sites was Springfield, Illinois. After some time working with the Springfield UCPA site, there was a change in staff and Willie was asked to apply to become the Executive Director at Illinois Assistive Technology Program (IATP). After some contemplation, Willie moved to Illinois from Washington, D.C., and began working as the Executive Director at IATP in October of 1992.

Behind the scenes at IATP:

IATP is the implementing entity for the AT Act.  IATP is a federally funded, self-standing non-profit agency with multiple programs to assist people with technology and durable medical equipment. The most recent rendition of the AT Act is more involved in direct service to individuals. IATP is a self-standing non-profit that provides assistive technology devices to individuals with any kind of need. Associated with the AT act, there are state level activities as well as state leadership activities. Some of the state level activities include AT demonstration centers, AT device loan program, AT re-use program, and a state financing program. State leadership activities involve training, information & assistance, Information- Communication technology, and State improvement.

The AT Demonstration Center is remote, portable, and able to go out into the community to be able to provide information and materials to individuals. Devices and technology are available in the Demonstration Center and can be lent out to individuals to get a hands-on opportunity to see if the device fits the environment in which they need it. All materials and equipment can be borrowed up to five weeks with the AT Device Loan Program. With the AT Reuse Program, new and used durable medical equipment and other assistive technology devices are donated to IATP which is then thoroughly sanitized and available to anyone statewide with a need for bath chairs, scooters, walkers, etc. IATP also has the ability through the State Financing Program to loan money to individuals to purchase necessary assistive technology to promote independence and safety in their home and their community. IATP is a direct lender to individuals needing assistive technology through the State Financing Program.

State Leadership Activities are also available at IATP including Training, Information and Assistance, Information Communication Technology, and State Improvement. These leadership activities involve statewide trainings hosted by IATP covering assistive technology.

Training, information and assistance- statewide trainings hosted by IATP covering assistive technology, funding, and more. Information Communication Technology provides additional training and education to individuals on how to make all their materials accessible to all consumers. Trainings also include topics on how to make accessible word documents, PDFs, and other commonly used documents. State Improvement is crucial to IATP as they actively promote the introduction of legislation and partner with other organizations to ensure that people could have greater access to assistive technology or funding. These interdisciplinary partnerships include other therapists and organizations to determine needs and to discuss what we can do to affect policies, practices, and procedures at the state level.

IATP is an agency dedicated to the individuals they serve with their access to devices, funding, and training.