Pam Hudson, director of the children's program at the Signal Centers, told the Chattanooga Civitan Club that while the organization had traditionally only worked with young children, during this year they expanded to help high school students with disabilities as well.
She said, "There are also adults who receive services at signal center...We routinely have intergenerational activities."
She told the club that sometimes adults who have lived with disabilities can reach disabled children like no one else can.
She said they had a special level of "understanding and acceptance."
Ms. Hudson said the Signal Centers assisted with everything from learning disabilities to cerebral palsy and blindness.
Ezra Reynolds, creative design engineer for the organization, also spoke to the Civitan Club. A computer science engineer, Mr. Reynolds uses his education to develop assistive technology for those with disabilities.
He said that this could involve something as simple as a piece of cardboard to reprogramming the electronic buttons and signals on toys.
He said, "Our goal at the assistive technology center is to help people be independent, all ages."
He gave an example of a girl who had suffered a stroke at birth, leaving half of her body permanently paralyzed. While in first grade, her teacher would have to tape papers to her desk so that she could write with one hand.
Mr. Reynolds developed a one-handed clipboard for her, allowing her to write and perform class assignments without waiting for assistance or having to use her face to move things. Currently in middle school, the girl has used this simple but innovative invention all throughout her education.
He gave another example of a boy who came to the center with multiple amputations due to childhood meningitis. To save his life, doctors had to amputate both legs at the knee as well as one hand and multiple fingers on the remaining hand.
Mr. Reynolds said, "The world is a scary place when you're the only one like you that you know about."
To make life easier for the young boy, Mr. Reynolds created a "friend." The boy's favorite movie was the Disney movie "Toy Story," so Mr. Reynolds took a Woody doll and gave the toy the same amputations.
Everyday, the young boy attached the created "prosthetics" on the toy as he learned to wear his own.
Mr. Reynolds said simple things like this could be vastly expensive if specially ordered. He said that at the assistive technology center, the staff works to create cost effective ways for people with disabilities become more independent.