Greetings from Montana!
MTAP was created during the 1989 legislature in response to the Americans with Disabilities Act. The program began serving Montanans in 1991.
MTAP consists of a staff of four, and except for Steve Johnson (equipment specialist), the rest of us are relatively new to the program. Barbara Varnum (director) and Julianna Whittaker (equipment specialist) have worked for the program for approximately 2 ½ years, and Lisa Gault (administrative support) who previously worked as a temp, was hired on full-time in October 2016.
The MTAP main office is in Helena and Steve Johnson has an office in Great Falls, and we just recently opened an office in Missoula, which is staffed by Julianna Whittaker. Lisa Gault works in the Helena office with Barbara.
Lisa Gault is deaf and after many months, we are happy to announce that we have a video phone up and running, and now Lisa can take calls from the public. Due to state firewalls, this was not an easy process. Thanks to TEDPA for the encouragement, as some of you may recall, last year I asked if a VP would be possible in an office environment and received a resounding YES from TEDPA members, so again, thank you!
MTAP serves individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, mobility or speech disabled. We serve approximately 600 individuals each year, primarily the elderly population. As Montana is the 4th largest state in the union, our equipment specialists stay incredibly busy driving across this great state of ours.
All staff members do outreach; we attend conferences, present at senior centers, annually at the Montana School for the Deaf and Blind for families with deaf/hard of hearing children, nursing/assisted living venues, phone companies, health fairs and trade shows. We are trying to reach more youth, and have attended the Montana Transition Conference (for youth with disabilities) the past two years.
MTAP has been distributing IOS devices for almost two years now. Individuals who are deaf or have a significant speech disability are eligible for an IOS device. We just recently started offering Android devices through RAZ Mobility, as well. We believe the program has been very successful.
Our most exciting news is to announce a new addition to our program: Vincent (Vinny) Jude, Julianna Whittaker’s baby. He was born on October 11, 2016, weighing in at 8 pounds, 5 ounces and 20 inches long. He has Julianna’s smile!
MTAP website: http://dphhs.mt.gov/detd/mtap.aspx. (We are in the process of updating this website, so please forgive the minimal amount of information currently contained on this site).