Welcome to California

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Picture of blonde Emily Flynn smiling with glasses by: Emily Flynn, Ability Tools Information and Advocacy Specialist

Working our information and referral line can bring on some very interesting calls. I speak with people from all walks of life and with all different types of disabilities that affect them. Our goal at Ability Tools is to help individuals with disabilities find assistive technology (AT) to achieve independence. I provide information on many different types of AT, funding resources, state programs, our state-wide device lending libraries, and much more. I also process device loans and reuse items that are here in our office. As I said before, I receive some very interesting calls from many different types of people, but I would like to tell you about one of my recent favorites.

It was early July and I had just recently started working back in the office after an injury kept me out for about two months. I was playing catch-up on some paperwork when the information and referral line started buzzing. I answered the phone with my traditional greeting, and received a very pleasant greeting in return. It was an older gentlemen calling on behalf of his wife. He was referred to us by his local 2-1-1 service as a resource for getting her hearing aids.

Here was the deal: He is a veteran and the VA will cover a lot of his needs but not those of his wife’s. He and his wife had recently moved to California after he medically retired from the Air Force. We discussed different funding programs and organizations that could help get his wife new hearing aids. I then asked if there was any other assistive technology that his wife was lacking, he told me he was trying to save up to get a caption phone for their home. He also explained that that during their big move from Nebraska to California his wife’s phone and doorbell signaler were broken and they have not been able to afford it to replace them.

Picture of white caption telephone

CapTel Caption Telephone

I was happy to inform him all about the Deaf and Disabled Telecommunication Program. This program assists Californians in getting accessible phones, like caption phones, free of charge. He was very pleased to hear about this awesome California program. Then I told him I had more good news. We had both signalers available free of charge. I explained that in addition to loaning out devices for people to try, we also have what are called reuse items and we give them away for free to individuals in need. He was so happy he began to cry and asked me to give him a moment. He explained that he was so emotional because he knows this will mean so much to his wife and they had not experienced anything like this when they lived in Nebraska.

I told him I was happy that we could help and that all I needed from him was his shipping and contact information. I was able to send him hard copies of all the resources we talked about and the two signalers that were available for free from our Reuse Program. I ended the call with a huge smile and told him, “Welcome to California!”

I receive so many calls every day and not all the people I speak with are pleasant – in fact, some are just downright angry and frustrated, which makes some days really hard to answer that phone. But, when I get calls like this one where I actually get the chance to really help an individual makes those other difficult calls totally worth it. Needless to say, I really love doing what I do.

To borrow devices or look for free device visit the AT Exchange

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