Staff Feature: Meet Davette!

December 8, 2023

Every month, ULS features one of our lovely staff members in our newsletter. This December, get to know Davette Rucker, the DC Assistive Technology Program (DCATP)’s Assistive Technology Specialist. After working in the field of disability and rehabilitation since 1998, Davette joined DCATP’s team in February of 2022. Since then, she’s helped countless clients discover and obtain assistive technology (AT) devices to support their independent daily living.

Davette graduated from Howard University with a Bachelor of Science in occupational therapy. Occupational therapists are healthcare professionals who help individuals experiencing temporary or permanent injuries and conditions perform activities of daily living (ADL), including bathing, dressing, and eating. These healthcare professionals assess individuals to determine their functional level and goals, as well as the ADLs that they wish to perform, and provide them with needed training and adaptive equipment. Davette’s aspirations to be an occupational therapist long pre-dated her college years. In fact, she remembers being drawn to this work at just ten years old, when, after spraining her ankle, she met an occupational therapist who taught her to walk with crutches.

Howard exposed Davette to multiple concentrations within the occupational therapy field. For example, she completed a rotation on a psychiatric unit, where she conducted ceramics classes and stress management classes with patients as a form of psychosocial occupational therapy treatment. Davette ultimately pursued occupational therapy in the fields of sub-acute rehabilitation, low-vision, home modifications, and pediatrics.

After graduating, Davette first worked in sub-acute rehabilitation in nursing homes. Later, she worked with infants and toddlers in an early intervention program. Here, she performed occupational therapy assessments on children to determine their developmental level for ADLs and fine motor skills. She worked with them to reach the age-appropriate milestones in their development. She also worked in the fields of home modifications as an occupational therapist for the DC Department of Aging and Community Living’s Safe at Home program and home health. In the former, Davette traveled to individuals’ homes to recommend safety modifications to decrease their risk of falls and improve accessibility.  In the latter, Davette performed at-home treatment programs to help individuals regain physical function – through, for example, upper-body strengthening exercises to improve ADLs and mobility following an illness. Finally, Davette worked in the field of low vision at a private physician’s office. Here, she encountered more high-technology devices, an experience that greatly impacted her work with AT devices at DCATP.

Davette came across DCATP at Mayor Bowser’s 2021 senior holiday celebration, where she met Program Director Alicia Johns. Working at DCATP presented as a perfect opportunity for Davette to utilize her previous knowledge and skills while exploring new aspects of AT. As an Assistive Technology Specialist, she continues to assess individuals’ needs and introduce them to helpful devices and products – including, for instance, magnifiers, apps for accessibility, adapted keyboards, etc. You can read more about this aspect of Davette’s work in a recent feature of one of her past clients. In her position, Davette demonstrates and instructs people to use low and high-tech products, such as devices for hearing impairment, augmentative and alternative communication devices, devices for computer access, and smart home technologies.

Another crucial aspect of Davette’s work with DCATP involves community outreach and education, which she performs alongside DCATP Outreach Specialist Deborah Kale and AT Specialist Leonard McPherson. These efforts aim to spread awareness regarding the programs and services offered by DCATP. One such effort, is the  Smart Home Exhibit presented in collaboration with the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library Accessibility Center.  It is Davette’s proudest accomplishment in her time at ULS. As the project lead for the exhibit, Davette exposed DC residents and service providers to high-tech smart home devices (including, for example, the Hero smart medication dispenser) and technology vendors through fun, engaging games and informative handouts. Davette also continues to study to enhance her skills in braille, sign language, and Spanish, which will greatly contribute to her work with the AT program.

ULS is grateful for Davette’s wonderful skills and looks forward to seeing all that she will do for District residents who can benefit from AT. In her free time, Davette loves to cook, make jewelry, and expose her sweet cat, Buddy, to the wonders of technology. In fact, she taught him to press a button that announces that he wants a treat.

Davette, a Black woman with pulled-back brown hair wearing a teal shirt, smiles at the camera.

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