Image of Shawna Hanson, woman in black top and blonde hair, standing in front of a tree.
Shawna Hanson is the Media Outreach Coordinator for MonTECH, Montana’s assistive technology program. With degrees in journalism and English, and seven years working in academic publishing, she is pleased to promote MonTECH through presentations, print, and social media.  Her unorthodox career path has permitted her to work with people facing a wide range of both physical and mental-health challenges.  As the mother of a son who is nonverbal with severe autism, she has experienced first-hand the powerful difference assistive technology can make in the life of a family. 

Montanans with disabilities need to access equipment, and receive training on that equipment, to enhance their independence. As a federally funded Assistive Technology Act program, we are seeking to address these needs. For our veteran and aging populations, MonTECH’s approach is cognizant of their unique challenges.  We best serve them by:

  • Housing devices for both the tech savvy and technophobic
  • Listening and adjusting training to their comfort level
  • Emphasizing independence and pursuit of activities that bring joy
  • Involving caregivers and support networks
  • Building capacity in Montana

John is a great example of the impact of our work. John wants to order a Big Mac at McDonalds without embarrassment. His difficulty with word recall, combined with a speech impairment, make it difficult for him to order. MonTECH offered John an iPad and provided training with two different apps. BuzzCards allows John to type and save his order on a digital card. Then he simply opens his card and shows it to the cashier. The second app, App2Speak, is designed with seniors in mind. One useful feature allows John to press a button, and a list of questions he might want to ask appears on the screen. Between the two apps and MonTECH’s free training, John can speak for himself now.

MonTECH’s team is actively involved in local and statewide organizations, ensuring the needs of those with disabilities are being discussed. In addition to trainings and demonstrations for the VA, aging services, and Vocational Rehabilitation, we strive to be a known resource for diagnosis-specific support groups. Giving members the opportunity to see devices designed to maintain as much independence as possible is a very rewarding aspect of MonTECH’s work.

That’s why critical reauthorization legislation like the 21st Century Assistive Technology Act is needed. Learn more about MonTECH and Assistive Technology Act Programs.