The Mobile Van Approach Wyoming Institute for Disabilities (WIND) WIND Assistive Technology Resources (WATR) Nationwide interview study January 2005
The Mobile Van Approach A Nationwide Survey Studying the Use and Effectiveness of Mobile Van Units by AT Projects
Background • WIND looked at providing AT services and information statewide via a mobile van approach • In January 2005, a nation-wide survey was conducted
Methodology • Directors of all State AT Projects were contacted and asked the following questions:
Methodology • What services and information were offered through the mobile component of your program? • What were the positive consequences of this approach? • What were the negative consequences of this approach? • What were the complications involved in this approach? • What has led to the program decision to continue or discontinue this approach? • Any advice for using this approach in a frontier setting?
Results • 29 state AT projects responded • 22 of the 29 states that responded did not use the mobile van approach • 7 states did use the mobile van approach: • Colorado • Illinois • Missouri • Nebraska • New Hampshire • New Mexico • North Dakota
Results What services and information were offered through the mobile component of your program? • Fabrication, customization, and installation of AT • Outreach services (assessments, awareness, education, demonstration, etc.) • Both AT fabrication/customization and outreach
Results What were the positive consequences of using a mobile van approach? • Allowed program to access more rural areas • Provided education for public on benefits of assistive technology • Increased public awareness of AT • Allowed for building and nurturing relationships between communities and the AT programs
Results What were the negative consequences of this approach? • Difficult to load for customizations/fabrications • Modifications done in van caused pitting of windshield and melting of floor mats • Space limitations and anchoring of equipment problems when used as a portable demonstration center • Cost-effectiveness*
Results What were the complications involved in using this approach? • Coordinating schedules and trainings • Routine maintenance • Lack of space • Difficult to find qualified staff willing to travel that much
Results What has led to the program’s decision to discontinue this approach? • Cost-effectiveness • Needs not being met by occasional use of van for demonstrations (now use more permanent demonstration center) • Found a different approach to be just as effective with fewer negatives (use of mini-mobile units for customization/fabrication)
Results Any advice for using this approach in a frontier setting? 2 types of responses: • Potential problems • Alternative solutions
Results Potential problems: • Cost (maintenance, van adaptations, replacement of AT) • Coordinating van availability • Lack of demand • Space, anchoring equipment, etc. • Lack of qualified staff willing to travel • May not be enough to meet consumer needs • Over-extending van to accomplish too much may affect quality of work or services
Results Alternative Solutions: • Distance training to address needs of rural community • Create resource centers around the state & utilize video conferencing • Look for corporate sponsorship, charging area distributors to have equipment on board for specialized demonstrations • Use private rentals/personal vehicles as alternative to owning a van • Set up small contracts with existing entities to develop AT access sites
Discussion All states mentioned the following: • Before committing to the purchase of a van, be sure to do a thorough cost-effectiveness study. • Program must know exactly what goals wish to be accomplished through using this approach. • Vans used most effectively in programs focused on fabrication/customization. • Vans used for outreach were all either used minimally or discontinued altogether.
For more information WIND Assistive Technology Resources Sandy Root-Elledge, Program Director (307) 766-2764 email@example.com Suzanne Adams, Project Coordinator (307) 766-2051 firstname.lastname@example.org