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PROVAIL expands assistive technology lab with Technology Matching Fund grant

Each year Technology Matching Fund (TMF) grants are awarded to organizations that endeavor to help close the digital divide. They use grants, of up to $25,000 to provide digital skills training for underserved communities. The Technology Matching Fund partnered with the Verizon Foundation to provide $25,000 for PROVAIL’s project in 2020, allowing us to support one additional project in 2020.  The 2021 Technology Mathing Fund recipients were just announced. These 15 organizations will reach more than 2,100 Seattle residents with creative solutions for accessing technology devices, internet connectivity, and digital literacy training. First time recipients are just getting their projects started. The Verizon Foundation continues their support in 2021 by funding Equity in Education Coalition. 

PROVAIL has used it’s funding to add new options to their Assistive Technology Lending Library. In this lab you can find a number of tools that help their clients, adults and children with different abilities, work with technology. If you can’t use your hands, like most children, but you can bump the switch with the side of your head or your elbow, or your foot, you can use a switch from the lending library to activate the toy. The library started as an in-person service. Now, Gabriel Laigo, who is in charge of the assistive technology, has spent considerable time making it available to access online. 

“A family can do 95% of the process on our website,” said Laigo. “There’s a form to fill out when they come and pick up items, but that’s all that’s really required now in person.”  

“Even though we are not seeing people face to face, a lot of the services we do have continued to go forward,” said Amy Logan, manager of grants and corporate partnerships. 

PROVAIL’s lending library has been around since 2019 when it was launched in collaboration with the University of Washington. The most popular devices are switches, but they’ve recently added some mounting hardware. Many of their clients are not being able to move their body well, so being able to mount things where they are reachable is a part of what the lending library at PROVAIL offers. 

“We even have a couple of speech generating devices for people who are non-verbal. They were added to the lending library, thanks to grant funding,” said Laigo. 

The TMF funding has helped PROVAIL add adaptive tools for the wave of younger clients they are seeing now.  Laigo traditionally served adults, but now children who have disabilities are using assistive aids from the lab in much larger numbers.  

PROVAL will continue to work from a virtual setting as long as needed, but they hope to return to in-person time in the lab, as soon as possible. In the meantime, they have set a goal of developing video clips to demonstrate the adaptive tools and help with their virtual check out system. It’s a long term goal they hope to provide as they continue to serve the needs of special clients in the Seattle area.  

To see a complete list of switches and assistive tools, visit PROVAIL’s website.  

To learn more about the City of Seattle’s commitment to digital equity and the Technology Matching Fund, go visit our website