What is the FAAST Assistive Technology Center and what services are provided?

The Florida Alliance for Assistive Services and Technology (FAAST) has six Regional Demonstration Centers which provide services to increase awareness, access and acquisition of assistive technology for all Floridians. Assistive Technology (AT) can be defined as “any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of a child with a disability” (Public Law 101-476). There is a wide range of AT device categories, such as: activities of daily living, adaptive toys and games, communication, computer access, environmental access, mobility, and seating and positioning.

The Atlantic Coast Regional Demonstration Center is housed at the University of Central Florida in the College of Health Professions and Sciences. Our center is located at 3280 Progress Drive, Suite 250, Orlando, FL, and is open to the public from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday to Friday. Supports are provided for individuals with disabilities, their family members and their service-providers/other caregivers living in the following counties: Brevard, Orange, Seminole and Volusia counties. Remote support also is offered for individuals living in Indian River, Okeechobee, Osceola, St. Lucie, Martin and Palm Beach counties.

Like all FAAST Regional Demonstration Centers, the FAAST Center at UCF provides the below core services for children and adults:

Information and Assistance
We respond to requests for information and/or put individuals in contact with other agencies, organizations or companies that can provide them with needed information on AT products, devices, services, funding sources or other related disability supports.

Assistive Technology Equipment Loans
We have a device loan program where assistive technology devices may be borrowed for a short period of time to:

  • Assist with decision making in selecting and acquiring appropriate AT options
  • Serve as a loaner while waiting for a repair or funding
  • Provide an accommodation on a short-term basis for a time limited event
  • Support training, self-education and/or other types of professional activities

Device Demonstrations
We offer device demonstrations to allow individuals to compare the benefits and features across devices or groups of devices in order to make informed choices about AT options.

Trainings
Our training activities are instructional events tailored to specified purposes and audiences. Examples of trainings include classes, workshops and presentations with goals of increasing participant skills, knowledge and competency.

What other unique partnerships does the FAAST Center offer?

Augmentative and Alternative Communication Assessments
The FAAST Atlantic Regional Demonstration Center has a close partnership with the UCF Communication Disorders Clinic. As such, we are able to partner with the clinic in offering referrals and in facilitating assessments for augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) assessments. The UCF Communication Disorders Clinic accepts a range of insurances and can assist with obtaining funding to secure an AAC device.

AAC includes all forms of communication (other than speech) that are used to help individuals:

  • Express needs and wants
  • Exchange information
  • Develop Social Closeness
  • Maintain Social Etiquette

People with significant speech or language problems rely on AAC as a form of AT to supplement speech or to replace existing speech that is not functional. AAC is most often used in combination with speech to maximize functional communication.

The following application forms should be completed for individuals seeking AAC services; contact information and submission details are included on the forms:

AAC adult application form
AAC child application form

Augmentative and Alternative Communication Research
Jennifer Kent-Walsh, FAAST Center Director & Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders, is the Principal Investigator for several externally funded research projects. Local children are eligible to enroll in these investigations, including two current investigations funded by the National Institutes of Health; Dr. Kent-Walsh and her faculty colleagues Ms. Nancy Harrington and Ms. Carolyn Buchanan currently are seeking to identify 3, 4, and 5 year-old children to participate in these ongoing investigations.  Please click on the following links to see additional information and contact information.  Compensation is provided for all participants.

NIH-Funded Research Study for 5 Year Olds
NIH-Funded Research Study for 3 & 4 Year Olds

Community Partnerships
The FAAST ARDC partners with a number of community organizations to offer special programs throughout the year.  One example is our ongoing partnership with the Down Syndrome Foundation of Florida (DSFF) in offering the iCan Communicate program.

Hear from clients and their families

NIH-Funded Research in the FAAST Center

Sophie – From research to therapeutic intervention for children needing the use of augmentative devices.

Faculty Interview

Professor & FAAST Center Director Jennifer Kent-Walsh discussed AAC on the “For Your Health” show, produced by UCFTV.

Resources

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association: Augmentative and Alternative Communication
www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/AAC/

Florida Alliance for Assistive Services and Technology
www.faast.org

PrAACtical AAC – Supports for Language Learning
http://praacticalaac.org/

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