Gadgets Galore for a Pretty Penny

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COLUMBIA - More than 500 people gathered at the Holiday Inn Executive Center on Tuesday to learn more about innovative technologies that would benefit the lives of people with disabilities.

The Power Up Assistive Technology Conference and Expo featured a technology expo with more than 30 booths offering services for people with disabilities and schools who have students with disabilities. From stand-up wheelchairs to interactive software programs, the conference unveiled the latest technology in disability services.

The expo also provided educational sessions on assistive technology devices, policies and practices in every day environment.

College student Gretchen Maune lives as a person who is blind. She attended the expo to learn about devices that could improve the quality of her life.

"I can't go to the store and see what the latest computer for me is, or what the latest talking clock is like, and that's the stuff I have to use," said Maune.

While Maune enjoyed the expo, the public affairs major disliked the cost of many of the products.

"When I started learning about the products I would need to have to live independently and be a student again, I was dumbfounded," Maune explained.

Since becoming blind five years ago, Maune found grants, scholarships and government programs that aid her in finding devices that make life easier.

"We have several different funding programs like low interest loans to help people purchase the assisted devices they need," said Marty Exline.

Exline is the Director of Missouri Assitive Technology. He said helping Missourians with disabilities find ways to have as much access to assitive technology is his priority.

According to the Missouri Assistive Technology, more than 840,000 Missourians with disabilities will be more independent at home, work, school and the community because of innovations in technology.