Lisa’s Story of How IATP Services Helped Her Mother
I first brought my mom to IATP in February 2022. She has macular degeneration with less than 10% vision in her left eye and reduced vision in her right eye. She no longer drives and is finding everyday things more difficult. She has been using regular magnifying glass items for a few years, but this was becoming a struggle. One of the major struggles she was having was the ability to read a recipe or the back of a package to understand the quantity or even the amount of time needed on the microwave. She lives independently but I would get at least a call a day to see if I had the same product and could tell her the information. (Google Photos was my friend!) This was extremely frustrating to my independent mom and I could tell that every call was making her feel “less” in her abilities.
We came to find what other options were available. I am a special education teacher, so I knew there was more that could be done. We had a wonderful time looking at all of the options. My mother is very “tech nervous” with new things, but the Demonstration Coordinator was wonderful in working with her insecurities. We left with a handheld device through the Reuse Program and another larger magnifying device from Device Loan to see if it would work for some other issues.
I no longer need to “look up” instructions and my mom has been confidently cooking and baking every day!!!! Not good for our diet in my house…lol. The spirit and joy that has accompanied this handheld device is not easy to describe. I see more confidence even when we go grocery shopping….yes, she brings it with her, so I don’t need to hover around in case she needs me to read something. This was something she really hated even though it was needed. She is now looking at new items in the grocery store and is willing to try them knowing she won’t need to call me for help.
The device we received from Device Loan didn’t work well for her. When we returned it to the agency, I was able to get her to look at the other desktop devices. I wanted her to try this style of device so she could regain some other passions….crossword puzzles, catalog shopping, looking at the grocery flyers for the best deals and reading the TV Guide. We were able to get a nice desktop video magnifier from the Reuse Program this time. Over the last three days she has called me at least 20 times with excitement about this new lease on life. She has read 3 copies of my TV Guide (she had canceled her subscription and got me one so I could read it to her!), all of her catalogs (I think she has started Christmas shopping already!), completed 4 crossword puzzles and we have a list of groceries to go get this Wednesday in 3 different stores!
I cannot stress enough the change in my mom over the past month with these independent devices. She has always been fiercely independent, and she was starting to feel like she was a burden to us. Now she can do the simple things in life everyday with confidence!
Submitted by Lisa, Betty’s daughter
Travis is a business owner and entrepreneur who is working toward building a public relations and marketing company in the Peoria area. He recently completed an evaluation with IATP to help identify the assistive technology options and related training that will help support his work and productivity. Travis was born with muscular dystrophy and has used a power wheelchair most of his life. He has difficulty using his hands which limits his keyboarding speed and ability to use a computer mouse. He worked with an assistive technology specialist to install voice recognition software on his computer and learn all the features of the program. He can now navigate his computer with his voice, dictate content instead of keyboarding, and create shortcuts to make some tasks less repetitive. Travis can now work more quickly, particularly when writing copy for advertising and websites. He is also using an external microphone which allows him to just roll up to his computer and begin working with no assistance.
In October 2020, Teon underwent brain surgery to have a tumor removed. He was only 17 years old at the time, and while removal of the tumor saved his life, it also resulted in sudden vision loss. Teon said that he remembered being terrified when he woke up from his surgery and part of his visual field was gone. He was most worried about how he was going to get around, and during his recovery had to learn to utilize his remaining vision as well as adapt to new ways of doing things. “I had my mind on college, and I was determined that I wasn’t going to let this stop me” said Teon. He continued with his plans to enroll at Illinois State University. One year after his brain surgery, an IATP Assistive Technology Specialist visited him at his dorm room on the ISU campus and helped with the installation and set-up of a laptop computer system installed with computer screen magnification and screen reader software. Teon is seeking a degree in business, and during the evaluation talked about his plans for the future which include not only owning his own business, but also one day opening a homeless shelter to help give back to the Chicago community where he was raised.
My Visit to IATP – A Thank You Letter from Ellie
September 29, 2021 was a very exciting day for me! My niece had come for a visit and while doing some research, found an agency (IATP) in Springfield that provides access to equipment for people with disabilities. We made an appointment to see what equipment was available for individuals with low vision.
I was completely awestruck when we got to IATP and saw all the possibilities for helpful items that I could use at home. We received a tour and demonstrations of many items. We determined that I could really benefit from a CCTV and one was available through the Reuse Program to take home that day!
I will be forever grateful for this. I use it every day and sometimes several times a day. I use to have trouble reading newspapers, magazines, recipes, directions for food preparation and many other things. So, I very much want to give a huge thank you to IATP for such a wonderful service and the staff who were so welcoming, helpful and have made my life much easier.
Using AT to Help Support A New Career Path
Teresa sitting on couch using her iPad
Teresa Fabre is a customer receiving services from IATP as part of a state contract with the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS), Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS). She graduated in 2013 with a degree in culinary arts and had planned to make that her life long career. Upon entering the work force, she was employed at a recreational cooking school. Just five months after marrying her husband in 2019, Teresa suddenly lost her vision due to glaucoma and detached retinas. She knew after spending a month flat in bed and undergoing seven surgeries in a single year that her vision was not going to return.
Having the desire to serve and believing she could use her personal experience to empathize with and make a difference in the lives of others, Teresa is now planning to take a completely different career path. In the fall of 2021, she began attending Northern Illinois University to obtain a Master’s degree in Visual Rehabilitation Therapy.
In order to prepare for her studies, Teresa sought assistance from DRS and IATP to obtain the tools and skills she would need to be successful in her studies and career. She participated in an AT assessment with an IATP Assistive Technology Specialist to determine the appropriate technology she would need. As a result of the assessment, she was provided with a laptop computer and iPad with screen reading software from IATP’s Open-Ended Loan Program. She is currently receiving training in the use of her assistive technology in conjunction with software and applications she will need to use to complete her class work.
Teresa says that she believes deeply that life is too short and you need to live it and do something with it. She says she has always wanted to help people since she was young and give back to society. Through her own hard work and infectious positive attitude along with the appropriate tools and support from IATP made possible by IDHS/DRS, Teresa will no doubt be successful at reaching her goals and be a tremendous asset as a professional in the field of blindness rehabilitation.
Starting a College Adventure
Elisabeth is a 19-year-old woman just beginning her first semester of studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She was born with cerebral palsy, and relies on a power wheelchair for mobility. Over the summer, she completed an assistive technology evaluation with an IATP assistive technology specialist to help determine what technology will help her work independently as a college student living on campus. Elisabeth has unique speech patterns, so several different voice recognition software applications and various microphones were tested, along with several keyboard and mouse options as she worked to narrow down the best devices and software applications for her needs. She has received follow-up training services from IATP and is busy pursuing her college studies.