AT Champions

AT Champions Program

Empowering young people to spread the word about Assistive Technology and local resources

What is AT Champions?

AT Champions is an effort to engage young people with disabilities to learn about activism, disability history, and local resources to help spread the word and empower their communities. AT Champions is a 5-month long program designed to empower youth and build connections with young disabled activists in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Purpose of AT Champion Program

There is significant disengagement of members of the disability community who have historically been "othered" in our general disability communities. This disengagement is due to systemic social barriers among the assistive technology community and disability community. The purpose of the AT Champions program is to develop and implement an outreach strategy that will improve authentic engagement with assistive technology by all disabled people in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. 

Meetings and Archives

Meeting Schedule 2022-2023 

AT Champion Resource Guide

AT Champion Experiences

Jess from Pennsylvania

As AT Champions comes to an end, I would like to tell you about assistive technology and what AT Champions is. First, I would like to tell you about assistive technology (AT). AT is a tool that can help you with your everyday tasks. Examples of AT are walkers and canes. Also, AT can be designed and built. Even if you don’t have a 3d printer you can build AT! You can use almost anything around your house. Some examples are pool noodles, which you can use with card games to hold cards. In my January AT Champions video, I show how you can use a pool noodle to hold your PECS symbols, make a choice board, or you can make a visual schedule. Really, you can use a lot of AAC tools with a pool noodle if you use your imagination. Another easy and affordable way to build AT is InstaMorph. With InstaMorph you can boil the pellets and mold them quickly and when you are done you have your own piece of AT.



A person molding Insta Morph to create something 

With AT, let your creativity take flight and help the world! 

There are many parts to learn if you would like to work in the AT field. For young adults the first thing I would recommend is joining AT Champions. With AT Champions you learn about AT and create videos from what you learn about it. I will explain more later. Another thing you can do, and this is how I learned so much, is I attend trainings. It is really easy to attend trainings nowadays after Covid 19. Now most trainings are virtual which is a lot easier for me to attend with me not being able to drive. I have learned so much in the past year it is crazy! Some of these are free but if you need to learn a lot of information the training might cost money. One other thing you will have to do for most jobs is get a college education. But there are scholarships to help you get through college. Some topics that are important to learn about with AT is Funding and Fabrication. 

image of zoom meeting

A group of people doing a Zoom Call 

Now for the last part of this post I would like to talk about what I do with TechOWL’s AT Champions. TechOWL is the AT Act program in Pennsylvania. TechOWL started this program along with some other AT Act programs in the surrounding states. In AT Champions, we learn about AT from the month of November to March and we meet once a month for about one hour and thirty minutes. During this time, we learn about AT and do interactive activities. We also have break out groups to get to talk to each other and learn from each other’s experiences. Every month we do a deliverable about what we learned. I have made multiple videos and when I get stuck, I always can reach out to the leaders of the group and they are always there to help me. If you have any more questions about AT Champions you can always reach out to TechOWL.  

Tom and Jess

Tom and Jess smiling in an expo hall


Raven from Maryland

As an AT champion, I was able to learn more about assistive technology through my research, monthly Zoom meetings, and the experiences of my peers. It was great to connect with people who have shared experiences yet also come from such diverse backgrounds. I really enjoyed working with everybody and the staff was incredibly helpful! I was able to take my knowledge each month and complete an assignment that will spread that information to the general public. I also took some time each month to talk to people I knew and sometimes even strangers about the importance of assistive technology. I especially enjoyed learning about how I can be more accessible through my writing, emails, and social media posts, and look forward to implementing this knowledge into my future work!


Qua'Mell from DC

Hi, my name is Qua’Mell Mercer, and I would like to talk about my assistive technology (AT) career. First and foremost, I’ve only recently started my AT journey as an intern, but I have worked with assistive technology settings like speech-to-text in my everyday life, for internet searches, text messages, etc. I’ve absorbed so much information over these past couple of months. I’ve met some amazing people that have opened my eyes to the world of people with disabilities. I’ve learned about icons like Judy Heumann, Stephen Hawking, and my friend Jessica Smith, a senior in high school, who is an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) and AT enthusiast. She creates communication boards for first responders which are laminated pieces of paper to help an officer and a person who may not understand them to get on the same page as shown below.

Screenshot of a communication board with many colorful icons.

Communication Board

Julius from DC

My experience with the Assistive Technology (AT) Champions program has been a fun and exciting time for me. I enjoyed all the projects I’ve been involved in. Some of the projects I’ve worked on include learning about (AT), using assistive technology devices, and creating my own (AT) device. I also enjoyed the way the team worked with me and supported me in any issue I had.

One project I worked on was creating my assistive technology device. The thing I chose to make was a phone holder. I also showed a video tutorial on how to make it. It was a simple do-it-yourself (DIY) project that only needed about one piece of paper. I believe this is assistive technology because it can help people with physical disabilities like those who can’t hold things for too long. I believe this device can help many people.

Overall, it’s been a great experience. Getting to hang out with the team and learn about (AT). Also learning how I can help people bypass those struggles by teaching people about (AT) options was exciting to me. After completing the program, I was rewarded for my participation. This is another reason I looked forward to completing the program.

Marissa from Maryland

Tips for Future AT Champions:

  1. Share Your Lived Experience: Every AT Champion has a different perspective surrounding disability and assistive technology. Since I am very active in the blind community, I tended to share resources I had personal experiences with like white canes, high-contrast tapes, and blind scholarships. Sharing the technology you use in your daily life adds a personal touch!
  2. Take advantage of TechOWL’s Resources: Technology for Our Whole Lives has amazing resources including a lending library, a used-equipment program, and several demonstrations on TikTok. I also recommend you connect with your project leads to learn more about your state’s resources.
  3. Start Early: Creating my AT Champion Deliverables took me at least 2-3 hours. Starting your projects at the beginning of the month will allow you to flesh out your ideas and resolve any technical issues.
  4. Prioritize Accessibility: Think about how a deaf or blind person could view your content. Make sure to caption all of your videos. Make sure your deliverables also have voiceovers or alternative text (image/video descriptions).
  5. Ask for Help: Don’t be afraid to reach out to your project leads or fellow AT Champions. Everyone wants to see you succeed!

Dylan from Delaware

My experience with AT Champions was a very positive one. It was so great being in a room full of people who are just as passionate as I am about making a world that is accessible for all. The meetings were always so energetic, and you could feel that everyone there really cared about what they did. I also learned all about new ways to help people using assistive technology. This group has made me a better person and I’m extremely grateful for that.

Going into this, I wasn’t sure what to expect. After all, I’ve never been a part of an organization like this before. What will I be doing? What will the work be like? Will I get along with everyone? But I was happy that everything went pretty smoothly

Dylan and friend playing videogames
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Tom DiAgostino

Tom is the Outreach and Training Coordinator at TechOWL. Before starting at TechOWL in 2019, Tom worked as an English Teacher through the Fulbright Commission in Uruguay as well as a Social Worker and Spanish interpreter in the foster care system in North Philadelphia. As a person with dyslexia, Tom is passionate about readability and website accessibility. Along with managing TechOWL’s social media platforms, Tom also co-leads the Fabrication program CreATe together and assists with managing the TechOWL website.

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