Thursday, December 18, 2014

Man with polio left legacy of helping others with disabilities

By CLINTON DICK, Herald Staff Writer | 5/5/2014

Gerald “Jerry” Vogel could find a way to accomplish any goal, Sarah Sack said.

Though Vogel died June 13, 2012, at 69, he left behind a legacy of helping others achieve their dreams, Sack, Assistive Technology for Kansas director, said.

Gerald “Jerry” Vogel could find a way to accomplish any goal, Sarah Sack said.

Though Vogel died June 13, 2012, at 69, he left behind a legacy of helping others achieve their dreams, Sack, Assistive Technology for Kansas director, said.

The Gerald “Jerry” Vogel Assistive Technology Fund was formed using funds left by Vogel in his will to help persons with disabilities and health conditions who live in Jefferson, Douglas and Franklin counties acquire assistive technology devices, according to a press release from Assistive Technology. The fund covers a wide variety of health conditions including hearing, vision, communication, mobility/stability/physical access, environmental adaptations, recreation, sports, and leisure.

“The funds were set up after they were released with the estate with the help of his sister and the Douglas [County] Bank,” Sack said. “Assistive technology is something that can help people of all ages. It is defined as any type of device that helps a person with a disability or chronic health condition achieve something that they are wanting to do.”

Vogel was diagnosed with polio at 9 years old and, after graduating from Lawrence High School and later the University of Kansas, he worked as a computer lab instruction at Independence Inc. using voice-assisted technology. He expanded his use of assistive technology when in 1986 he moved into his own condo, which was equipped with such special features as a voice-activated telephone and light switches that made it possible for him to be more independent, the press release said.

“Everything in Jerry’s home was automated and that [cost] has come down significantly over the years,” Sack said. “When Jerry automated his home, it was quite a some of money. Now with digital technology and different applications, there are automated systems that help you be safer in your home and allow you to control the heating and cooling and opening and closing the blinds and things like that.”

Applicants can get up to $500 from the fund. A portion of the fund is available starting Jan. 1 of every year and applications are being accepted now, Assistive Technology said.

Application forms are available at www.atk.ku.edu on the “Jerry Vogel” page, Sack said, or applicants can contact ATK’s Northeast Assistive Technology Access Site in Topeka toll free at (800) 526-3648.

“The fund is a terrific opportunity,” Sack said. “There are other non-profit groups that we can help them get in contact with. The demand is really large. Our program serves 2,000 people a year easily. In order to keep the amount donated in tact, they are first come, first serve.

“Basically all areas of technology are open,” Sack said. “It could be that they are looking at recreational equipment — you know, Jerry loved to be outside. It could be that people are needing some memory or organizational aid. Maybe someone with dementia for safety or chronic health conditions. It could be some funds towards a communication device.”

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