Technology for Ageing and Disability SA turns 40

Older people don't necessarily see themselves as disabled - just getting older. They put up with being unable to do day to day activities or work around their issues - not always successfully. Having the right device or equipment to assist can make all the difference, giving the person more independence, staying connected to family, friends and the community, and even being able to stay in their own homes and not go into care.

A unique South Australian charity has been making life easier for people living with disability and the aged for 40 years.

Technology for Ageing and Disability SA (formerly Technical Aid to the Disabled SA) or TADSA began its service in 1978. Over those 40 years, hundreds of volunteers have designed and built or modified thousands of devices that are not commercially available to improve the quality of life of clients.

Bill with walker on greenIt can be something as simple as a device to assist someone with arthritis to turn on a light or power switch, to modifying a wheelchair so that an oxygen bottle can be carried. Another project TADSA completed was for a client who had had a stroke. She was using a regular walker and could only operate the brake on her unaffected side. A TADSA volunteer invented a system so that the client could operate both sets of brakes using one brake lever (on her unaffected side).

The devices TADSA builds are very cost effective, as the client only pays for the material to build the device, a small service fee and incidentals such as mileage for the volunteer.

Although most volunteers are based in metropolitan Adelaide, TADSA is a state-wide charity and regularly completes projects for clients living in regional South Australia.

TADSA patron Libby Kosmala TADSA's patron is Paralympian Libby Kosmala who has been a client of the charity for over 30 years. When Libby began competition shooting, she not only needed something she could rest upon, while shooting from her wheelchair but a place for her ammunition. A TADSA volunteer built a table which attaches to her wheelchair and can be taken apart and transported in a suitcase. She has taken it to the 11 Paralympic Games in which she competed in rifle shooting, winning nine gold medals.

Apart from the devices it creates, TADSA also has the Freedom Wheels modified bike program for children with disabilities. TADSA volunteers take regular bikes and fit them with prefabricated accessories or invent accessories which will allow a child to ride a bike usually for the first time. TADSA volunteers have invented rear steering systems, modified handle bars and pedalling systems.

TADSA is a registered charity, accredited at Certificate Level of the Australian Service Excellence Standards and is registered to provide supports for National Disability Insurance Scheme participants.

No referral is necessary to use TADSA services. Clients, carers, disability support workers/organisations and allied health professionals can all contact TADSA direct. If readers or a family member have a problem related to ageing/disability that they would like help addressing, contact the TADSA office on 08 8261 2922, email: pm@tadsa.org.au or visit www.tadsa.org.au.