Haywood County Justice Center First to Adopt E-Board
Justice center first in nation to receive innovative adaptive equipment
By Kim Gardner
Elder SAFE Program Coordinator with the 30th Judicial District Domestic Violence-Sexual Assault Alliance
Haywood County is first in the nation, thanks to a state-of-the-art piece of adaptive equipment.
The 30th Judicial District Domestic Violence-Sexual Assault Alliance placed an E-Board in the Haywood County Justice Center to provide assistance and accessibility to victims with disabilities who need to navigate the legal system. This is the first justice center in the nation to receive such technology, according to E-Board creators and Widget Works co-founders, Paul Audet and John Vandermey.
The E-Boards will help address accessibility issues for persons with disabilities involved in the judicial process, said District Attorney Mike Bonfoey.
“My prosecutors are thrilled to have the use of this new E-Board,” Bonfoey said. “This equipment will aid in the presentation of evidence in the courtroom, and will help with the accessibility issues for victims or jurors with disabilities.The 30th Alliance and my office have been working together for years to support victims of domestic violence,” Bonfoey added. “I will continue to work with the Alliance towards our mutual goal of ending domestic violence.”
E-Boards are innovative pieces of equipment that are adaptable, mobile and versatile, allowing users a range of positions in which to use the E-Board. The ergonomically-designed base supports a large HDTV flat screen, which is able to connect to a variety of technological devices, such as laptop computers and DVD players. The work space of the E-Board moves from 27 inches to 53 inches vertically to accommodate different heights of the user. The HDTV flat screen mount rotates for 20-degree angular movement for various fields of visions. The entire E-Board system also moves effortlessly so it can be brought to the user, rather than the user trying to come to it. And each unit is equipped with a universal power supply to protect the electronics from power surges and provides a battery back-up system.
The E-Board is the brainchild of engineers Audet and Vandermey, who started Widget Works, the South Carolina-based company that designed and now manufactures the newly patented E-Board.
“The introduction of the E-Board brings a whole new level of efficiency, visual consistency of evidence or testimonials in high definition, and most importantly, versatility to the courtroom,” Audet said. “With the integration of a large HDTV flat screen combined with a wide range of vertical and tilt movement, the E-Board’s interactive functionality readily adapts to multiple user and viewer needs and preferences.”
The Haywood County Justice Center is not the only place to receive an E-Board through the Alliance. There are two E-Boards at the Waynesville Police Department, along with three at the Haywood County Department of Social Services, REACH of Haywood, The Arc of Haywood, Smoky Mountain Center, Haywood Vocational Opportunities, Meridian Behavioral Health and the Alliance. A total of 13 E-Boards have been placed in these agencies, with an approximate value of $65,000.
The Alliance secured the E-Boards for the 30th Judicial District as part of a systems change for victims with disabilities through an Office on Violence Against Women grant initiative. They are paid for through grants from the Office on Violence Against Women and the North Carolina Governor’s Crime Commission.
“The E-Boards have been a part of the collaborative effort in Haywood County to better serve victims with disabilities,” said Sue Fowler, executive director of the 30th Judicial District Domestic Violence-Sexual Assault Alliance. “The use of adaptive equipment can help to reduce barriers and make it easier for a victim to access services. The E-Board in particular can enlarge print and photos, can adapt to a person in a wheelchair, can assist in training and presentations and can be adapted in a variety of ways depending on need.”
The 30th Judicial District Domestic Violence-Sexual Assault Alliance is an award-winning, innovative, nonprofit program serving the 30th Judicial District which includes the seven western most counties of North Carolina: Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain.
Founded in 1998, the Alliance is a coalition of local and regional agencies serving victims of domestic violence, dating violence, stalking and sexual assault. Alliance members include: domestic violence-sexual assault agencies, regional mental health providers, legal aid services, the office of the district attorney and law enforcement.
The mission of the Alliance is to enhance the capacity of communities to respond effectively to incidents of domestic violence, dating violence, stalking and sexual assault, centering on victim safety and holding abusers accountable.