Assistive technology advances open new paths.

Brian Denny took his 13-year-old son, Cooper, hunting last year.

Big deal? It was to Denny, paralyzed from the shoulders down after a work accident in 2010. But thanks to an adaptive wheelchair called a trackchair, Denny was able to go off-road into the woods in search of deer.

"It was an experience that I didn't think I was going to be able to have again," Denny said. "I got to places where I'd have never gone in this chair."

The trackchair, the result of a Go Fund Me campaign started by Denny's friend, is one example of the assistive technology transforming lives at a rapid pace.

"I've been working in assistive technology for about 25 years now, and I used to could semi-keep up," said Carol Page, director of the S.C. Assistive Technology Program. "Then the iPad hit the scene, and I'm doing far more research than I ever have before, because I know not to think that I know everything that's out there."

Page presented some notable advances on Feb. 26 during a ceremony in the Statehouse lobby declaring March Assistive Technology Awareness Month by proclamation of S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster. She demonstrated an iPad communication app to help nonverbal people express themselves and a video magnifier that enlarges words and changes screen contrasts.

Page also explained how an FM system, aimed at helping students who have trouble hearing or attending to what is being said, works: A professor wears a microphone that transmits directly to a student's receiver, filtering out background noise. Page also showed off a C-pen reader, which scans text and reads words aloud, and an electronic spoon that helps compensate for tremors.

The state assistive technology program aims to match such advances with people who need them, often loaning out equipment so folks can try something out before spending money, Page said.

"We want people to use it during their regular day, in their natural environment, to make sure it's a good fit," she said. "A lot of funding comes from Medicaid and Medicare, and we want to make sure those are good decisions."

That's where Denny, outreach coordinator at the S.C. Spinal Cord Injury Association, comes in. He works with the program and Page to test new assistive technology.

"We've found different apps that work for different people," Denny said. "She'll get me to try some things out and see if it works, to see if it's a good fit. It's a great collaboration."

The technological advances he's seen since he was injured also amaze Denny...

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