Overcoming disabilities: 3D-printed technology paves the way at Temple University

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- "It could take one little piece of equipment to change your whole outlook on your whole situation," said Katie Fetterolf. "And that's basically what the library has done for me."

Fetterolf worked her way up from an internship with Temple University's Institute on Disabilities. She is now the Assistive Technology Lending Library Coordinator.

"I have cerebral palsy. It makes my whole body tense and tight, and everything a little bit more difficult," she said. "Without access to technology, I wouldn't be able to be independent."

Within the Institute on Disabilities is Pennsylvania's Assistive Technology ACT Program known as "TechOWL." Funded by federal dollars, the program helps anyone in Pennsylvania acquire gizmos and gadgets geared toward their disabilities.

While TechOWL does not sell devices directly, they do offer to lend out assistive technology for 9 weeks at a time. They can also distribute 3D-printed devices that people can keep for no cost.

Devices include a quirky bottle-opener, a utensil grip, a bag carrier, a button fastener, and more.

Staff at TechOWL have recently been using social media to spark a conversation about assistive technology on the internet. They produced a TikTok video explaining how individuals with disabilities would use them to accomplish everyday tasks. Now with more than 8 million views, it has awakened awareness all across the world.

"I hope more people realize that the assistive technology lending library is out there and we're here to help you," said Fetterolf. "We want you to borrow our equipment."

She also hopes her story inspires others with disabilities to conquer their challenges and achieve their dreams.

"It doesn't matter what type of disability you have, severe or mild," said Fetterolf. "It's always possible as long as you believe in yourself."

To learn more or to request a device in the state of Pennsylvania, visit their website. TechOWL can also help you connect with similar resources in neighboring states.

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