Become the next MacGyver of assistive technology

In an upcoming eLearning workshop, learn how to create assistive technology you can use in your home or classroom.

Dr. Willkomm teaching at the head of a class

Dr. Willkomm knows interesting ways to turn ordinary items into useful tools.

February 23, 2015

A sandwich holder assembled from a clamp and a gooseneck pipe. A reaching device using hot dog tongs. An adapted computer mouse made from a telescoping antenna and tape.

These are just some of the innovative items Dr. Therese Willkomm will demonstrate in her online workshop “Assistive Technology in Minutes,” beginning March 16 on PerkinseLearning.com. The class will explain how to make adaptive technology devices that can be used in classrooms, at home and elsewhere.

“Too many people think ‘technology’ means expensive electronic devices,” said Robin Sitten, an educational resource specialist with Perkins eLearning. “But sometimes you can solve problems in a matter of minutes with creative thinking and the right tools.”

Known as “the MacGyver of assistive technology,” Dr. Willkomm is famous for finding new uses for everyday items for people who are blind or with other disabilities. She is the director of ATinNH, the New Hampshire statewide assistive technology program with the Institute on Disability, and an assistant professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy at the University of New Hampshire.

Each session of the eight-week Assistive Technology in Minutes workshop includes a lecture, videos that give step-by-step instructions how to build adapted devices, required reading and a quiz. There’s also an online discussion forum where students can exchange tips, solve problems and ask questions.

A kit containing all the materials needed to build each device will be mailed to participants before the workshop starts. Students will spend an average of five hours a week watching the web-based presentations and constructing devices.

Assistive Technology in Minutes participants can earn graduate credits and other professional development credits (PDPs, CEs, ACVREP, ASHA, AOTA). But the workshop is not just for educators and other disability professionals. It’s also useful for parents who want to make their home more accessible for children without buying expensive equipment.

“The video demonstrations are lively, entertaining and informative,” said Sitten. “Therese Willkomm’s joy in discovering solutions is contagious.”

To sign up or for more information, visit Perkinselearning.org. Early Bird pricing is available before March 2, 2015.

Perkins eLearning also offers other courses that educators can use to fulfill professional certification requirements. See the list of workshops and webinars scheduled for spring 2015