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					                         WEST TENNESSEE SPECIAL TECHNOLOGY
                              ACCESS RESOURCE CENTER

                                        ANNUAL REPORT

                                       Calendar Year 2008

1119 Old Humboldt Road, Jackson, TN, 38305   (731) 668-3888   (731) 668-1666 fax   www.starcenter.tn.org
                        WEST TENNESSEE
                         (The STAR Center)

                                        Mission Statement

The STAR Center is a model evaluation, resource, and training center dedicated to ensuring that all
individuals with disabilities or other special needs maximize their potential for independence and
achieve their personal goals of effective learning, independent living, and employment by
providing access to assistive technology, therapeutic services, and employment and support


The STAR Center seeks to redefine human potential by making technology a regular part of the
lives of people with disabilities. It strives to accomplish this goal by raising public awareness and
implementing programs and initiatives that provide easy access to conventional and assistive
technologies, related services, and information resources in a single facility. This unique model of
service delivery enables people to achieve success, independence, productivity, and social
interdependence according to their individual needs and interests. The power of technology to
neutralize limitations and support participation in the mainstream of society is phenomenal.

In its mission to increase the public awareness, understanding, and implementation of assistive
technologies, The STAR Center is grounded in the notion that effective solutions result from
collaborative efforts. Based on a spirit of collaboration and partnership, The STAR Center is
driven by the community that it serves. This powerful partnership is made of adults and children
with disabilities or special needs, their family and friends, teachers, therapists, employers, service
providers, technology vendors, professional organizations, and community agencies – all working
together and sharing the belief that meaningful and lasting change occurs when the search for
solutions begins with individuals defining their own dreams and expectations.
                                                Core Values

   Children and adults with disabilities have the right to access information about technology and
    resources in a multicultural and multinational manner with equal effort placed on learning about
    and gaining use of a wide range of tools and supports.

   People with disabilities have the right to maximize independence and participation in all
    environments, without barriers.

   Individuals with disabilities or special needs have a right to technology solutions, which can be
    harnessed to diminish or eliminate environmental barriers. People with disabilities have a right to
    the use of technology, supports, and resources that enable them to change and augment their lives,
    expand their options, and redefine their futures.

   Individual with disabilities have the right to control and direct their own choices, and the right to
    access the information they need in order to make informed decisions according to their goals and

   Children and adults with disabilities have the right to employ assistive technologies, strategies for
    implementation, necessary training and support to maximize independence and productivity.

   Children and adults with disabilities have the right to quality services regardless of their ability to
                                         The STAR Center Story
Margaret Doumitt, a woman who had a vision, went beyond her wildest dreams, and since 1988 has helped
thousands of people across the United States in the process. It was 1988 when Chuck and Margaret
Doumitt's two youngest children began losing their eyesight. As most parents would do, Margaret and
Chuck began searching for answers. After numerous doctor's visits and tests, they were informed that
George and Angela had a rare condition called Battens Disease. This disease would eventually cause
blindness, seizures, loss of motor skills, and death. There is no known cure for Batten, but that just made
Margaret and Chuck more determined to find options for their children to continue their education and
independent lifestyle. Already having established a successful business, they began exploring a new era that
involved technology. This new, assistive technology would be, and could be, used to help people with
disabilities reach their goals to learn effectively, live independently, and work competitively. Of course in
1988 the word computer was not even an everyday term! As Margaret's interest in assistive technology
grew, she traveled the country to see what exactly assistive technology entailed. When she saw what the
Technology Centers in Berkeley and Santa Monica and in other metropolitan areas were accomplishing with
assistive technology, she began to dream that someday assistive technology would be available to her
children who were continuing to lose their eyesight. She and Chuck realized that they had a choice to make -
relocate to a larger, more metropolitan area which had an assistive technology center or to start an assistive
technology center here in West Tennessee.
Considering Margaret's dynamic and persistent attitude, it only would take a moment to realize that
Margaret chose to develop an assistive technology center in rural West Tennessee. The first step was
establishing a support group with parents of visually impaired children from over 21 counties. This support
group met, identified needs, and with the help of the City of Jackson, Madison County, United Way, the
business and corporate community, and private citizens, The STAR Center was born.
The STAR Center held its grand opening April 21, 1988 with an all volunteer staff in donated space in the
back half of a classroom at West Jackson Elementary School in Jackson, TN. Within one year, Lambuth
University offered space and by 1990, the STAR Center had been able to pay a salary to several of the
volunteers and had grown to fill almost an entire floor of one building at Lambuth. In 1994, the STAR
Center, which now had eight full-time and two part-time staff, obtained its own 10,000 square facility with a
grant from the State of Tennessee Division of Rehabilitation Service and Matching Funds from West
Tennessee HealthCare and concerned citizens of West Tennessee. Due to Margaret's persistence and vision,
the facility was completely paid for with grants and local contributions upon moving in the building.
Within a year, The STAR Center was able to rapidly begin adding more paid staff. In 1997, an additional
facility was added in downtown Jackson thanks to the City of Jackson and a grant from the State of
Tennessee Department of Rehabilitative Services. Today the STAR Center employs a highly technical staff
of over 90 people recruited from all over the United States, owns two facilities, is debt free with a $3 million
budget, serves over 17,000 people per year, and has the nation's only Mobile Assistive Technology Bus -
The ACCESS EXPRESS. As 1999 came to a close, the STAR Center added an additional 2500 square feet
which was totally paid for at the time of completion and purchased land for additional parking and a third
facility to be constructed in the future. We are currently in the process of purchasing a larger building with
plans to relocate in January 2005. Due to the rapid success of The STAR Center in the rural area of West
Tennessee, the way was paved for two more major assistive technology facilities to be developed within the
State of Tennessee in the metro areas of Nashville and Knoxville.
                                  The STAR Center Story (continued)
For all of us, technology can make the things we do easier and faster. To a child or adult with a disability,
the right technology simply makes things possible. Assistive technology is any device or assistive aid which
provides access toward independence. Just as glasses are an assistive aid to someone with vision needs or a
cane is an assistive aid to someone who has difficulty walking, computers and other equipment can help
someone communicate, learn, work, or just become a little more independent. If someone is blind, there are
computer programs which will read the screen for them, or if someone was involved in an accident and can
no longer move their arms or legs, they can operate a computer by a voice input system. If a child is having
trouble in the classroom with math or reading, software programs can help the child understand and address
specific skill areas. Assistive technology has many different faces with many different applications which
meet a variety of needs, and that is the amazing thing about what Margaret and The STAR Center has
accomplished over the past fifteen years. Granted, she had a specific need in her family. She could have met
that need and been done with it, but not Margaret. As she saw a need, she did everything in her power to
meet that need and take it one step farther. Margaret and her team of volunteers and staff have led The
STAR Center in becoming the largest assistive technology center in the nation! People from all over the
country travel to Jackson, Tennessee to see how to best serve the children and adults with disabilities in
their community. The STAR Center also developed the first all-encompassing mobile unit, The ACCESS
EXPRESS, in the nation. A mobile unit in which STAR is able to drive to the person at home, school, work,
or even in the hospital. The ACCESS EXPRESS and Center-based technology programs also provide
training for children and adults, their families and caregivers, professional in education, rehabilitation and
healthcare, and employers.
Margaret and the STAR Center staff and volunteers do not know the meaning of the word "no" nor the
phrase "I can't", and that attitude is the key to why the STAR Center has grown. Not in her wildest dreams
did Margaret envision of the STAR Center being what it is today. It takes a community like Jackson, TN
and a "go-getter" like Margaret Doumitt to make it happen! Margaret is an awesome woman with very
specific dreams---the great thing is ........ she is still dreaming! Once she achieves a goal, she just makes a
newer, larger, better commitment to meet another need. Never say "it can't be done" to Margaret Doumitt.
To think that all this started with a simple question of one woman-Margaret Doumitt- asking: "How do I
teach my child who is blind to read or type or have the skills to engage in competitive employment or even
live independently?" One question and a DREAM has now lead to The STAR Center being the largest
assistive technology center in the United States and the only center with a mobile bus unit-The Access
Express. With a highly technical staff of over 50 and a group of volunteers 200+ strong, The STAR Center
served over 17,000 people last year.
Margaret and The STAR Center staff and volunteers have been and still are true advocates for not only the
vision impaired, but people with all types of disabilities. With a dream, a few volunteers, and a deep
commitment to helping others, Margaret Doumitt created the largest and most successful center in the nation
dedicated to helping people with any type of disability. She truly is a source of inspiration and
encouragement to anyone with a dream.

"At The STAR Center, wishes take wings as people with disabilities rise above limitations and soar toward
limitless possibilities!!!"
Officers of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee Members

President:                                 Todd Swims
Vice President:                            James Allison
Treasurer:                                 Gary Grisham
Secretary:                                 Norma Smith
Past Presidents:                           Mike Pyron
                                           Mike Hewitt
                                           James Allison
                                           Bob Campbell

                    Committees and their Chairperson(s):

Program & Planning:                        Dr. Elzie Danley, Chair

Budget & Finance:                          Gary Grisham, Treasurer

Marketing & Public Relations:              Mike Pyron, Chair

Property Management:                       John Allen, Chair
                                           Frank Wagster, Co Chair

Human Resources:                           Casey Smith, Chair

Development:                               Mike Hewitt, Chair
                                           Bobby Hearn, Co Chair

At Large:                                  Don McKnight

Medical Advisory:                          Brad Priester, Chair

Nominating:                                Stan Harris, Chair
         Board of Directors Members and their Professional Affiliations

Angela Hazlehurst        Marketing Coordinator, Parent and Advocate
Barry Cross              Vice President, HR, Jackson Energy Authority
Beth Tatman              Physical Therapist, Parent and Advocate
Bob Van der Linde        Director, Centre for Management & Technology
Bobby Arnold             CFO, West Tennessee Healthcare
Bobby Hearn              Financial Advisor, Smith Barney
Brad Priester, M.D.      Retinal Surgeon, MidSouth Retina Associates
Brenda Whalley           Development/Marketing Volunteer
Carl Brown               Retired, Asst. Commissioner, TN Voc Rehab
Charlene Burnett, O.D.   Optometrist, Burnett & Burnett Optometry
Dale Brittain            Retired, Executive Director, Kiwanis Center
Debe Williams            Chiropractor, Williams & Williams
Diane Rushing            Physician Services, Lebonheur Hospital
Don McKnight             Community Bank President, BancorpSouth
Eliza Forbes             Volunteer, Development and Marketing
Elzie Danley, Sr.        Educator/Clergy (Retired)
Evelyn Robertson, Jr.    Director, Southwest Development (Retired)
Frank Wagster            Architect, TLM Associates
Gary Grisham             City President, BancorpSouth Bank
James Dusenberry         City President, Regions Bank
James Ray Allison        President, Allison Insurance
Jan Littrell             Regional Supervisor, TN Rehab Services
Joanna Priester          Community Involvement, Volunteer
Joe Kastner              Public Relations Manager (Retired)
John Allen               Owner & President, John Allen Company
Justin Gilbert           Attorney, Gilbert Firm
Kevin Barron             Vice-President, Physicians Services
Mike Hewitt              CPA/Partner, Alexander Thompson Arnold
Mike Pyron               Corporate Management (Retired), Real Estate
Norma Smith              Parent, Advocate and Volunteer
Paula Brownyard          School Head, School of Ed, Lambuth University
Ralph Leverett           Professor of Special Education, Union University
Roy Heatherly            Publisher, The Jackson Sun
Rusty Butcher            CPA, Horne LLP
Seth Chandler            Owner & President, DCA/DCPR
Stan Harris              Attorney, Moss, Benton & Wallis
Taina Edwards            Volunteer, Marketing
Todd Swims               President, Leaders Credit Union
Tom Hohs                 Controller, AmeriSteel
Tom Reed                 Executive Director, West TN Physicians Alliance
                                          The STAR Center’s Services
    Art Therapy – Evaluation, Screening and Training - Therapists use creativity, art media and the therapeutic
   process to enable individuals with disabilities to reach non-artistic goals such as development of cognitive skills,
                                improved attention, social skills, and problem solving.

  Assistive Technology Services – Environmental Controls and Workplace Accommodation - Environmental
control evaluation provides options for people with disabilities to control their environment independently through the
  use of voice or movement-based switches or computer commands. This service provides information targeted to
            customize a work environment and/or job for an individual’s specific needs in the workplace.

     Augmentative Communication - Evaluation and Training - This program offers children and adults with
expressive communication disorders an alternative method of communication. It includes an evaluation to determine
    the most appropriate method of AAC, and training to teach the individuals and their caregivers how to use it.

   Employment Services – Job Placement, Job Readiness, Job Coaching, Self-Employment, & Supported
Employment - This program assists people with disabilities in preparing for and obtaining competitive employment.
 Job Readiness teaches resume writing, interviewing, good work habits and interpersonal relationship skills. Self-
    Employment provides opportunities for people with disabilities to operate their own business. Supported
Employment offers individuals with disabilities the opportunity to achieve employment and independence goals with
                                      the support of Placement Specialists.

   Job Tracks/Computer Applications Training and Technology Lease - Job Tracks/Computer Applications
 Training teaches the use of workplace software in order for clients to reach their goals of competitive employment.
 The clients in this program will gain computer literacy by using self-paced training materials, aided by instructors
                                  available for individual assistance and guidance.

   Music Therapy – Evaluation, Screening, and Training - Therapists prescribe use of music and music related
    strategies to assist or motivate a person towards specific non-musical goals. Therapists use music and musical
   instruments in a one-on-one setting to effect changes in clients’ cognitive, physical, communication, social, and
                                                    emotional skills.

 Outreach, Information, and Advocacy Services - This program provides information, advocacy, and resources to
                 individuals with disabilities and their families and promotes public awareness.

   Personal Assistance, and Nursing Services – Direct Care - This program is a one-on-one support service for
 individuals with Developmental Disabilities to ensure opportunities to grow and expand their level of independence
            both at home and in the community. Nursing care is available for clients with medical needs.

  Prevocational and Learning Lab Services – Evaluation, Screening and Training - Computer Access/Assistive
    Technology Evaluation provides technology and software options to children and adults with disabilities, their
families, and professionals in education, rehabilitation, and health services. In the learning lab people with disabilities
  use computer technology to achieve their goals of effective learning, efficient working, and/or independent living.

 Receivables Management Training - This program trains people with physical disabilities in the following fields:
  bill collecting, skip tracing, data entry, and check collection pre-certification, and provides job placement upon

    Vision Services – Functional and Low Vision, Independent Living, Orientation & Mobility Evaluation &
  Training - The Low Vision program strives to enable an individual to use their remaining vision as effectively as
   possible. The Orientation and Mobility program provides individuals with skills and adaptive equipment, which
 enable them to develop or enhance their ability to travel independently using one-on-one client-centered instruction.

      Vocational Evaluations - Identify an individual’s job-related strengths, weaknesses, abilities, & interests.
                          Services Provided by The STAR Center in 2008

Below is a list of Evaluation, Training and Support Services provided by The STAR Center to children and
adults with disabilities and the type of highly skilled professionals that we have gathered from throughout
our country to provide these critically needed, life-changing services.

4,980 hours of Evaluation Services:
Computer Access Evaluation                     Computer Training Evaluation
Assistive Technology Evaluation                Vocational Evaluation
Workplace Accommodation Evaluation             Environmental Control Evaluation
Home Accommodation Evaluation                  Independent Living Aids Evaluation
Orientation and Mobility Evaluation            Low Aids Vision Evaluation
Augmentative Communication Evaluation          Functional Vision Evaluation
Art Therapy Evaluation                         Music Therapy Evaluation

100,186 hours of Training Services:
Business Applications Training                 Computer Learning Lab Training
Assistive Technology Training                  Pre-Vocational Training
Receivables Management Training                Environmental Control Training and Setup
Literacy Lab Training                          Job Readiness and Pre-Employment Training
Orientation and Mobility Training              Low Vision Aid Training
Augmentative Communication Training            Functional Vision Training
Employer and Community Technology Trg          Workplace Accommodation Training and Setup
Art and Music Therapy                          Job Tracks Training

Support Services:
 Job Development/Placement Services –          Nursing Services – served 3 individuals with
 82 people placed in employment                4,357 hrs of service
 Equipment Loan – 102 clients & 5 agencies     Workplace Accommodations – 13
 Technical Assistance – 7 employers, 13        Personal Assistance – provided 106 individuals
 health organizations, 5 education             with 148,302 hrs of service
 organizations, and 109 individuals

The STAR Center’s community rehabilitation services are carried out by 218 highly skilled
professionals with specialties as follows:
Speech & Language Pathologists with           Vision Rehabilitation Specialist (Orientation &
specialization in Augmentative                Mobility, Low-Vision Specialists & Teacher of
Communication                                 the Visually Impaired)
Occupational Therapist with specialization in Special Education Teachers with Assistive
Assistive Technology                          Technology Specialization
 Rehabilitation Engineers                      Technology Instructors
 Music Therapists                              Information Technology Specialists
 Art Therapists                                Vocational Evaluation Specialists
 Employment Specialists                        Assistive Technology Evaluators
 Outreach and Advocacy Specialists             Accounts Receivables Instructors
 Certified Nursing Assistants                  Registered and Licensed Practical Nurses
The STAR Center’s Budget Summary for Fiscal Year 2007-08

                       Expense Summary

                                           Administrative and
      Fundraising - 5.4%                   Support Services -

                      Program Services -

                       Revenue Summary

           Donations and
           Fundraising -                    Other Income -
              10.2%                             0.9%

   Program Fees -

  Grant Income -
     23.8%                                          Contract Income -

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