Innovation & technology combine in Black Hills Works, providing independence

The assistive technology department at Black Hills Works creates custom-built items to suit each person’s needs.
The Early evening news on KOTA Territory TV
Updated: Jan. 2, 2023 at 11:07 AM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - Black Hills Works is an integral part of western South Dakota, making life for those with a cognitive or mobile disability more independent.

One department at Black Hills Works uses technology and innovation to make this goal a reality.

The assistive technology department at Black Hills Works creates custom-built items to suit each person’s needs.

“Anything that helps people do something they weren’t able to do before, or they weren’t able to do well,’ said Tammy Murner, the Assistive Technology Director. “So if you can imagine that encompasses a broad broad range, so we’re able to touch every area of a person’s life here at Black Hills Works. In a world where you and I get up every day, we put on our own clothes, we put on our own shoes, we get in our car and decide where we want to go, we do what we want to do. for a lot of our people because of their physical cognitive disabilities they’re not able to do that. So I can remember a gentleman for the first time that was able to put on his own shoes. I mean it seems small to you and I, but for him, that was an amazing feat and an accomplishment.”

From custom-fit hearing aids to swiveling cup holders, this department not only helps with day-to-day life but the fun parts as well.

“It doesn’t look like a wheelchair, looks like a little 4-wheeler, and it’s battery operated and has big knobby tires on it for a wheelchair,” said Robert Mudge, a former Black Hills Works board member. “And people in wheelchairs can take it and they can drive on lawns, drive over curbs, they can drive in the snow, they can climb M Hill.”

“The one instance that just really stood out for me was the gentleman that always wanted to hike up M hill, he was able to do that with this. we’ve had other folks that take it out in the yard when it snows, and you know they don’t have to be couped up and then they’re riding around in the yard,” continued Murner. “We had a gal that recently used it for Day of Caring. she wanted to be a part of the community and help and give back because the community has been so good to us. you know that gives her purpose.”

Mudge donated the X8 wheelchair for Black Hills Works clients to use. He says it’s a gift that keeps on giving, for them and him.

“When you hear the stories and feedback,” said Mudge. “That’s incredible motivation to say ‘okay, what’s next?’”

To see some of the Assistive Technology department’s innovation, the Disability Awareness & Accessibility Committee along with Main Street Square are holding a free ice skating event on January 28 known as ‘All-Ability Skate Day’. There, they will have a sled created to help get everyone on the ice.