Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

ATA Scrapbook of Success

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

ATA Scrapbook of Success

Article excerpt

Tooling up for success

Joe is 19 years old and interested in auto mechanics, farming and computers. He works part time from his home and attends Madison Central High School in his home district.

Our earliest recollections of Joe are as a five-year-old in what was then a segregated classroom for "primary educable mentally handicapped" students. For two years, Joe struggled with the early concepts of reading using traditional reading materials mandated by the Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) as modified by his teacher.

Joe moved on to the first computer introduced into that class in the form of an Apple II manufactured by Bell and Howell with virtually no software. Four years later, with the explosion of technologybased tools, Joe's teacher left BOCES to work with the Resource Center for Independent Living to develop the Techspress Program.

Techspress, the ATA center in Utica, N.Y., met Joe again when he was in a segregated high school classroom to which he was bused every day. Joe's teacher called Techspress after recognizing that Joe's educational abilities were hindered by the lack of appropriate resources. She did not know much about technology, but she knew there had to be a tool that could help Joe's visual perceptual skills.

Joe readily speaks about the frustration of not being able to read his own handwriting. When Techspress was invited to the high school to see exactly what Joe was doing, he took us over to his Apple IIe computer and explained how he used it. He worked with his face about six inches from the monitor and moved through his word processor with great difficulty.

At the high school, Joe was successfully mainstreamed into science classes. He wanted to be mainstreamed into all of the classes and attend his home district school. To assist in this transition, Joe needed access to a computer at all times, for everything from taking notes and tests to drawing science graphs and writing English essays.

After discussing the options with Joe, we determined that he would need a portable word processor with large print on the screen and large print output, So Joe, his family, his teacher and Techspress began looking for something to meet those qualifications. We found a portable word processor/typewriter that had large print both on the screen and in print. Now it was funding time.

It took a full year of working with the Committee on Special Education to secure the funding for this device as well as an assurance that he could take it home with him and use it when he went back to his home district. …

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