- Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
By Ryan Clark
CHS Communications Director
HAZARD, Ky. (March 10, 2023) — The University of Kentucky announced today a $125,000 grant from Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky to support the new Appalachian Center for Assistive Technology, or ACAT, located in Hazard.
Patrick Kitzman, PhD, PT and professor in the College of Health Sciences' Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation and Health Sciences PhD programs, is director of both the Kentucky Appalachian Rural Rehabilitation Network and ACAT. He said the new center will have its grand opening April 10.
“We are very thankful for the generous gift from Toyota Kentucky to support the work of the Appalachian Center for Assistive Technology,” Kitzman said. “This funding will substantially expand our ability to support individuals living within eastern Kentucky.”
The Appalachian Center for Assistive Technology (ACAT) will serve the disability population in eastern Kentucky through education, demonstration and loan of assistive technology. A makerspace will be established to allow for the rapid adapting of equipment to meet individuals’ needs. The ACAT will also serve as a training site providing foundational level training in disability and accessibility to rural high school students as well as advance training opportunities for professional students in Speech Language Pathology, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, etc.
Located in the Center of Excellence in Rural Health, and part of the Kentucky Appalachian Rural Rehabilitation Network at 750 Morton Road in Hazard, the new center will benefit from the gift in several ways. Serving the period from 2023-2024, it will help to adequately plan, establish programming, bridge contract and grant funding, and set up long-term staffing (as well as critical capacity building support) for the Center’s makerspace.
The KARRN ACAT Makerspace provides broad-ranging benefits to a wide variety of stakeholders across the state through assistive technology refurbishing projects, service-learning programming, and early-stage workforce development planning. The ACAT Makerspace works to improve the health, community participation, and quality of life for individuals with disabilities across Kentucky. The makerspace serves as an Assistive Technology Resource Center to support access to and understanding of assistive technology and a multi-level training program to support foundational and advanced learning opportunities for high school and university students.
ACAT serves as the primary makerspace for all of Kentucky’s Assistive Technology Resource Center (ATRC) sites. As such, donated assistive technology equipment from other ATRC sites may be sent to the makerspace for assessment and repair. The 1,395 square-foot space includes both hi-tech equipment (3D and 3D laser printers) and low-tech equipment (standard hand tools, drill presses, basic electric tools, etc.). Desk and project spaces allow room to engage community volunteers, local high school students, and UK students with the programs.
“Toyota is committed to supporting our neighbors and improving our local communities,” said Kim Ogle, senior manager corporate communications, Toyota Kentucky. “We are proud to partner with the University of Kentucky to help expand access to critical services and mobility devices for many across eastern Kentucky.”
The ACAT Makerspace supports outreach programming that includes:
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