Your self-directed employment assistant

Mary KayMary Kay Walch, director of sales and marketing at BlueSky Designs, has worked in the assistive technology
industry for more than 30 years. Improving product design and life for individuals with disabilities. Educating
families, therapists, teachers and suppliers. Her specialty is improving accessibility and independence with
optimal positioning and stability through mounting solutions. It was such a pleasure to get to learn about Mary Kay's career and have her take the time to answer a few questions. Enjoy!

How did you initially get started working within the field of Assistive Technology? 

While earning my COTA degree in the early 80’s, I did a clinical study at an early childhood program for
children with severe disabilities where I was hired after graduating. The program was fortunate to have
volunteers who made simple switches and other assistive technology to adapt the environment,
making it possible for the children to interact with the world. It was from this program that AbleNet
evolved. It was at AbleNet in the mid 90’s that I crossed paths with Dianne Goodwin, Rehabilitation
Engineer. Dianne founded BlueSky Designs in 1997. Her extensive experience creating custom solutions
for individuals with disabilities led to the unique design of the Mount’n Mover mounting system. My
background in Occupational Therapy and experience in marketing and sales was a perfect fit for her
growing company and I joined the BlueSky team in 2012.

What’s your favorite aspect of the field? 

Improving product design and life for individuals with disabilities. Sharing assistive technology solutions
and developing relationships with therapists, special educators and families across the US and around
the globe. Watching them implement the technology and make a difference in people’s lives.
It must feel amazing to design important products to help individuals achieve independence.

What has been your favorite product to date?  

Good question. Each brings something different. It likely would be the Mount’n Mover. It offers a new
level of independence that can significantly impact a person’s quality of life.

What has been the most rewarding experience of your career? 

My work life has been motivated by my passion for innovation and making a difference in the world
through assistive technology for individuals with disabilities. I work with amazing clients who have
overcome such adversity and are still so amazing. It brings me purpose and gratitude every day.

Have you encountered any challenges along the way? 

The journey of assistive technology has been one of many roads. At the beginning, we were blazing
new trails with no maps to guide us. But we never let our baggage define our travels. Now we travel on
high speed freeways trying to keep up with the ever changing technology and needs of our
customers. This can be challenging. Technology has come so far from those first days, but yet we are
still relevant in this changing world. With the risk of sounding old, I am proud to have been part of the
Assistive Technology pioneers whose mission was to make the world a better place for individuals with
disabilities. Mission accomplished.

What advice would you give to our members in regards to finding their career?  

This quote sums it up. “Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It
will not lead you astray.”-Rumi  

How about when it comes to finding the best type of assistive technology for them?   

Explore your options, do your research and if possible, try it out prior to purchasing to make sure it
meets your needs. Consult the experts – but don’t be afraid to challenge them, you know what is best for you.

Thanks again to Mary Kay for sharing her time and expertise with us! 

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Comment by Thabiso Rowan on March 15, 2019 at 12:37pm

It is so amazing to see how technology has grown, and very quickly too. It is so nice to be able to customize things to fit my needs. I feel like every individual should be able to customize to their preference. Sometimes a little extra piece of equipment can give us that much more independence. This is a very inspiring article! 

Comment by Erika J. Kluge on March 13, 2019 at 11:13pm

Thanks Mary Kay- you have been an inspiration in the field! Diane and Blue Sky Design as well. I really like that Blue Sky does adaptive recreational items as well- that is often a concept overlooked. 

Comment by Jennifer Mundl on March 7, 2019 at 5:16pm

Sounds like you are enjoying working in the technology and you are a great advocate for your consumers. How is everything at Blue Skies? I don't longer working at Courage Kenny and now I am working for the Minnesota Star Program. I needed a change after many years of working and I'm glad to have the experience behind me as it is very needed in my current position.

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