Liam is a creative, hardworking young man with a great sense of humor. Liam has Cerebral Palsy which affects his fine and gross motor skills and vision. He had a difficult time doing pen and pencil tasks, and also had trouble turning the pages in a book, so he often relied on a scribe.
While having received SET-BC support in previous years, his team requested and received a new laptop from SET-BC with Kurzweil 3000, Word Q for word prediction support, and Wivik, an onscreen keyboard in order to assist Liam with reading and writing tasks across the curriculum.
Liam has a very supportive school team, which includes his classroom teacher, learning support teacher and educational assistant. The team saw the advantages that technology would bring and is enthusiastic and supportive in putting it to use. Liam and his team immediately saw the benefits that these tools provided in order for Liam to access the curriculum and to demonstrate his knowledge. However, the team felt that Liam remained too dependent on the Educational Assistant for physically setting up in order for him to see the screen.
The team consulted the district Occupational Therapist and Teacher of the Visually Impaired to explore other access options. The team proactively trialed various trackballs, joysticks, keyboard and mice and various low vision options to see if these would help with the access to the computer. The team also pursued consultation with Sunny Hill Hospital’s Assistive Technology Team.
SET-BC then provided a Mount N Mover with a customized tray to support the laptop. This mount allows Liam to have the computer at different angles and move the mount so his access to his computer is ideal for him at different times throughout the day. Liam has complete control over the mount and laptop on the customized tray from his wheelchair so he can change height, placement, direction or angle as he prefers. The team has noticed a significant improvement in his posture; he is sitting much straighter and visual access to the computer and class materials has greatly improved.
Another solution that SET-BC provided is a mouse emulator which is an add-on feature that allows the joystick to drive the power chair or control the cursor on the computer; this is built right into his wheelchair joystick. This piece of equipment was loaned to Liam so he could try it at the school. Motion Specialties in Nanaimo installed the emulator and customized it for Liam. Liam took to it right away and he says “it makes it easier for me as I don’t have to move my hand”. The EA finds it helpful because she can have a mouse plugged in as well and she or a peer can work with him on the computer.
Liam says having the computer, software, mount and mouse emulated joystick makes it “easier and faster for him to do his work and easier for the teachers to read [my work]”. The team is finding that by using Word Q and Kurzweil he is recognizing more words, his vocabulary is increasing and his spelling is improving. The technology has helped Liam develop independence; he no longer needs a reader or a scribe and he is doing his own work. The assistive technology has encouraged a love of learning, and has given Liam the power to express himself. Liam sees himself as a fully participating learner.
Liam and his team demonstrate that with a collaborative and creative team approach finding a working technology solution is not only possible but can prove to be one of overwhelming success.