julie_2014_2upJulie is a beautiful and lively young lady who graduated last year and is finishing her return year at Brooks Secondary school in Powell River. She has an amazing sense of humor, is fun loving, social, very expressive and creative.

Julie was born with cerebral palsy which impacts her ability to speak using her voice and she also uses a wheelchair to get around. Assistive technology has allowed Julie to become an advocate for people with special needs by giving her the means to communicate information and create multimedia presentations to educate the public.

Julie explained that before getting technology from SET-BC she could not communicate everything that she wanted to say. Communicating the details is really important to her. Kath, the educational assistant who works with Julie, stated that people were misunderstanding her when she did not have access to her communication device with Minspeak. Julie has been using Minspeak since getting her first communication device, the Vanguard. Access to Minspeak has allowed her to learn to generate more complex language.

Julie’s school based team worked with and addressed her physical access needs by exploring possible areas on her body where she could control the movement voluntarily. She accessed the Vanguard using switches but there was a lot of trial and error finding an appropriate access method and switch site. Julie even tried a head mouse but that did not work well for her. Because of her need for computer access Julie’s team requested an integrated communication device called an ECO. She accessed it with switches at her knee and shoulder in order to communicate and access her work. Access was still very slow so a few years later her team requested an Accent 1200 with Nueye, an integrated communication device that allows eye gaze access to communication pages and programs. This new eye gaze technology allows Julie to access and put together what she wants to say much more quickly. In Julie’s words “It is faster.” Julie still uses a foot stomp to indicate “yes” and a shake of the head to indicate “no” which really helps when she doesn’t have access to her communication device.

Having regular access to technology has allowed Julie to really have a voice and engage in conversations with friends and school staff. She is also now able to write things out and make her writing detailed. This year Julie took the textiles class and the technology allowed her to communicate her own choices and decide what she wanted to do and when. She has an entire vocabulary page devoted to sewing. During class she has also been able to engage in chit chat with her good friend Mariah. Julie has a lot of friends so having her new system has not created more friendships for Julie but it has helped her to deepen the level of friendships as she can say and share more things.

Julie is very excited when discussing her future goals. She wants to live with her friend Mariah and become more independent on Facebook, using it and posting more. She would like to be a motivational speaker, educating others and the community with her power point and continue to advocate for those with special needs. Julie talked about how it would be nice to make money doing this as well. She was happy to share 9 pages of her power point that talks specifically about herself and would like to share the entire power point with SET BC.

One thing that Julie really wants people to know about her is that it really bothers her when people who do not know her assume that she is like a little kid and is not smart, especially when they talk down to her. She wants people to not make assumptions based on appearances but to speak to and treat everyone with respect, regardless of their particular abilities and disabilities. Her communication device makes it possible for her to say this for herself.

Download a PowerPoint Presentation done by Julie

To learn more about the technology used in this SETstory, search for it by name in learningSET.