2003 Conference Proceedings

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John C. Standal,
Assistive Technology, Inc.
7 Wells Avenue
Newton, MA 02459
(800) 793-9227 tel
(414) 916-2725 cell
(617) 641-9191 fax
Email: Jstandal@assistivetech.com

Steven is a typical 16 year-old. He is interested in college football, joking around with his friends, watching TV, and talking to girls! Up until last year, however, you might not have known this about Steven. You see, he has lived for the past 16 years in a body that has made it a challenge to do the things typical 16 year olds do, or even to express his wants and needs. This is because Steven has cerebral palsy, a condition that impairs his speech and mobility.

Last year, however, Steven started using an integrated device called the Gemini (Mac platform) that allowed him to unlock the potential he has within and tell the rest of the world about it! The device is one that allows him to do a variety of things that many of us take for granted. It gives him a voice, and it is a computer on which he can do school work. Later on, his family moved to a similar device, called the Mercury (Win XP platform). It is like the Gemini, in that it allowed Steven AAC and computer functionality, but the could also act as his remote control to turn the TV to his favorite channels, since it has built-in IR and X10 capability.

Join us as we shadow this remarkable young man through the ins and outs of his daily activities, including time at home and school. We observed for a day and let Steven be our teacher. Then we compiled a photo documentary of what we found:

Background information on Steven:

He is 16 years old and an avid Aggies (Texas A&M University) Football fan. He almost always has a good disposition and a smile on his face. He attends high school in La Porte, Texas, a suburb of Houston, where he is in regular classes full time. He has an inclusion specialist, named Margy, who assists Steven on a daily basis (and is a self-taught technology wiz).

Background information on Steven's technology:

Steven moves about in a power wheelchair that he controls through a head switch. He uses the Tracker 2000 head pointing system by Madentec to control his device. He has used a Gemini AAC device/Mac computer mounted on his wheelchair at school for the past year and is moving to the Mercury AAC device/Windows XP computer for his future needs. He powers both his device and the Tracker head pointing system from his wheelchair battery, so he doesn't have to worry about being tied down to a wall outlet to recharge. He also uses the following software programs:

And, he programs communication boards and PowerPoint presentations himself!

A Day in the Life:

We followed Steven as he arrived at school, talked with teachers & students, cruised through the hallways in his power chair, created his own PowerPoint presentation for a class assignment, visited with others during lunch, went home and called a friend, then watched some TV. These all sound like regular, everyday activities, but not when it comes to Steven. He has a unique way of doing "regular activities" and it involves his use of an integrated AAC device / computer system - first the Gemini and now the Mercury.

Future Plans:

After our amazing day with Steven, we talked with him a bit about his hopes and dreams, as well as the challenges that face him in the future.

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