In collaboration with the Arizona Department of Education – Exceptional Student Services (ADE-ESS), AzTAP organized, advertised and hosted six virtual Maker events in the last reporting period. AzTAP runs ADE-ESS’s short term AT lending program under a five year contract. Each event was comprised of at least two to three duplicate sessions at different times throughout the day so that participants could attend at a time that was most convenient for them. Devices constructed for each session ranged from switch adapted toys to low tech AT items. Participants were charged a nominal registration fee (+/- $25.00 for most events) and the additional associated costs for the sessions were paid for by ADE-ESS. We had 146 participants in all the sessions on the six Maker days. The primary attendees of these Maker events were teachers, related school service professionals, therapists, and a few parents of a child with a disability.
Access to AT increased because these devices can be made using common items at a lower cost than if they were purchased commercially. Through participation in the workshop we were able to increase participants’ awareness of the ADE AT team and the AT Loan Library. The workshops were held using Zoom which increased the availability to individuals throughout Arizona who otherwise may not have been able to make the trip to participate. The partnership was made successful by commitment and flexibility from both organizations. Success is all in the planning – it is most important to make sure the workshop instructions/script are very detailed under the virtual format, that plenty of support is available to help participants, and that all supplies are ordered with enough time to arrive so they can be shipped to participants prior to the event. We are expecting the initiative will continue and are planning another series of Maker events for 2022.