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ATA scrapbook of success.

From slow learner to honors student

From a parent at our ATA center in Jackson, Tenn.: The West Tennessee Special Technology Resource Center (STAR) was the answer to our concerns about our 12-year-old daughter, Amy, who has retinitis pigmentosa. We discovered she had this eye disease when she was 10 years old. Shortly after the diagnosis, our pediatrician told us about the Center.

The first goal we established for Amy was to learn the keyboard because we don't know how long her vision will be good. Amy and I went to the Center three times a week, and she learned all the keys in two months. The Center also told me about other things she needed, such as paper with darker lines.

Amy is doing all of her homework (except math) on the computer. She types about 35 words a minute and has access to a computer in one of her classes at school.

The best result from using technology is the improvement in Amy's self-esteem. She was a borderline learner for many years. The teachers and a psychologist said Amy was a slow learner. Since she started using the computer, her grades have gone up and she has made the honor roll.

It has also given me and my husband some hope when everything seemed so dim. I feel Amy now has some direction and some solid goals for her life. The skills Amy is learning will help her get a job when she gets older. She is also learning which tools she can use if her vision deteriorates.

Student turns teacher

Jabe is a delightful teenager from Santa Monica, Calif., whose learning disabilities led him to spend a significant amount of time in special day classes and resource programs. He was introduced to computers in middle school and liked them.

Last summer at the Computer Access Center's science and technology workshop, he began learning HyperCard, a programming language. His interest and creativity in using HyperCard gained him the respect of teachers and students alike. As a result, he entered high school with confidence and energy.

Jabe is currently working in the high school computer lab as a teaching assistant and recently authored a simple talking word program. He is looking forward to a career in which computers will play a significant role.

Continuing education

Elizabeth Hackett is a 26-year-old woman with mental retardation. The challenge h s been to find tools to help her learn. When she was in school, her family was told that she would stop learning at age 16, a statement which was difficult to comprehend, let alone accept.

During the past seven years, Liz has had access to a number of computers and software packages that have helped her continue learning. She has used Project Star, an adult literacy program, to increase her reading vocabulary. She also has had access to games that improved her hand-eye coordination. She has needed relatively few adaptations since her disability affects her interpretation rather than physical access.

Liz's spelling skills have improved tremendously through the use of software packages such as Wheel of Fortune that combine spelling with a game format. Liz has also learned enough about computer operations to help her teachers overcome any intimidation caused by computers. After watching Liz boot up the computers at SpeciaLink, the ATA center in Covington, Ky., the teachers were not as scared of the technology. Liz also works with youngsters who come to the center.

The computers she uses are "off-the-shelf." The software is also mainly off-the-shelf, with a few other pieces developed by Liz's mother to help her develop computer and academic skills.

Liz's disability has caused her to be slower at learning new things, but using computers has enhanced her learning, helped her develop social skills and certainly increased her self-esteem and self-confidence.

Liz is continuing to learn, despite the fact that she was supposed to stop 10 years ago.
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Title Annotation:Alliance for Technology Access; using computers to help educate handicapped children
Publication:The Exceptional Parent
Date:Apr 1, 1993
Previous Article:The best interests of the child: a national issue - a local dilemma.
Next Article:Planning for the future: providing a meaningful life for a child with a disability after your death.

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