Many kids soak up the newest tech like sponges. The same thing can’t always be said about adults.

Technology can make things easier, especially for those living with disabilities, exposing vast amounts of information and answers at the drop of a hat.

Midland Empire Resources For Independent Living does just what their name says — they help the people living in nine northwest Missouri counties live independently.

To do that they explore assistive technology options for people with partial vision, hearing and other conditions.

Consumer Directed Services Specialist Lauren Lynch takes on the challenge of training the public on resources offered by the Telecommunication Access Program, which can provide things like phones, internet, amplifiers, cellphones and tablets.

There are a few requirements to qualify for TAP besides having a disability. Wireless internet, email access and for some resources individuals need to be 18 years of age or older.

“You have to meet an annual gross income of $60,000 or less,” Lynch said.

Each dependent in a household adds $5,000 to that figure.

Some of the computer accessories offered are special computer mice, software to amplify text and voice recognition.

Many people need to learn the workflow since it’s new to them, and MERIL has evolved during the COVID-19 pandemic to offer additional virtual training.

One of the ways they do this is with a CDS Specialist driving to an individual’s home, dropping off the equipment, and then calling them over the phone to help with training.

“If they don’t have the capability to do these trials, we’ll be more than glad to do a hands-on demonstration, in a safe manner,” Lynch said.

Teaching technology requires patience among the teacher and student, which is something that Lynch continues to practice.

“Patience is the key,” Lynch said. “I have to go through the manual myself and figure out how to do it, because I know the basics.”

She enjoys seeing how the assistive technology can change people’s lives for the better.

Lynch recalled one story of helping a woman with assistive technology for two phones in her house. After the demonstration was over the woman had to make a phone call, and she chose to call her sister to test the equipment and workflow.

“She would have like — an over an hour conversation with her sister, because she’s never experienced that, because of her hearing loss,” Lynch said.