STAR – Alabama’s assistive technology resource – has quietly grown its device reutilization program to be ranked second in the nation by the Center for Assistive Technology Act Data Assistance (CATADA) for four straight years, said Helen Baker, STAR director.
“It’s a great bragging point for us, but really all of the kudos should go out to our partners and six reuse centers throughout the state,” Baker said. “These programs and facilities exist for a reason, and the end result is they potentially save Alabamians a lot of money.”
STAR is one of 56 federally-funded Assistive Technology Act Programs throughout the U.S. to enhance the independence, productivity, and quality of life for its citizens with disabilities by improving access to and acquisition of assistive technology. Last fiscal year, STAR’s reuse program recycled 2,963 items, with a total savings of more than $1.8 million to Alabamians with disabilities.
STAR operates the Alabama AT Reuse Network, a collaborative partnership of community-based programs to recycle assistive technology and durable medical equipment at no cost to the user.
Alabama’s six reuse centers are: the 3-R Project in Anniston, the CARE Project in Montgomery, the We Share Project in Mobile, the REAL Project in Dothan, the ReMEDy Project in Birmingham, and the Waste Not Program in Huntsville.
STAR maintains a real-time listing of all available items – from nebulizers to ramps, lifts, and CCTVs – at the reuse centers at al.at4all.com.
“We can’t do it alone,” Baker said. “We partner with other organizations to get the word out and help us. Local newspapers have run stories featuring our reuse centers. We’ve collaborated with universities on events like donation drives, and we even have physicians who recommend our program to patients.”
Baker said that programs associated with STAR, including device reutilization, alternative finance, training, device demonstration and short-term loans, are in place to benefit persons with disabilities from birth to old age.
STAR is helping to close the gap for equipment acquisition, remove barriers, and promote independence for all ages, said Baker.
“We cross so many lives in what we do,” said Baker. “Bad and unexpected things – car crashes, medical complications, natural disasters – can happen in an instant. You might not ever plan on needing a bath chair, for instance, but it’s good to know that there is a place to go to find one when something happens and you need it most.”