Using AT to Help Support A New Career Path

Teresa sitting on couch using her iPad

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.

Life’s a Journey: Hardships to Blessings

There are certain people in the world with a natural gift to lift others. The power of this ability cannot be overstated. Colten Skinner is a man with such a gift. Colten exudes positivity and hope with virtually every word and action in his life. Staff members at IATP had the opportunity to meet and work with Colten. Originally, we worked with Colten to ensure he had the necessary devices and programs to complete school and obtain a job. Colten was able to develop the skills necessary to use speech recognition efficiently and use an adapted mouse and keyboard. These tools allow Colten to write independently and access the internet and various programs on his PC. A height adjustable table provides him with the ability to place his work space at an ideal level. While completing his degree and working from home Colten began to work on his auto-biography. He mentioned it on several occasions over the years and updated us on his progress. After years of hard work, Colten was able to complete his book and have it published in 2020. Life’s A Journey: Hardships to Blessings is the amazing story of Colten’s life and the challenges he overcame. Colten’s incredible drive and determination to write this book all while accomplishing so many other tasks is beyond comprehension. As his book illustrates, Colten is involved with many committees and charities dedicated to helping children with cancer and providing opportunities for people with disabilities. Colten is never one to rest on his laurels as he is already hard at work on his next book. 

James thanks IATP & Care Connects Program

“My name is James and I’m a disabled Vietnam Veteran. Before COVID-19, I was able to get out of the house and visit my family and church friends. As a result of the pandemic,
I lost the opportunity to socialize with my loved ones. When I contacted IATP and explained the isolation I was experiencing, they were eager to help. IATP provided me with an iPad, as well as training to learn how to use it. My iPad has allowed me to maintain close connections with my family and friends. I’m able to attend church virtually and fellowship with my church friends as well. I also have access to social media and can keep up with my grandchildren. I’m so grateful for IATP and their genuine care for seniors. Thank you!”

IN MEMORY OF JAMES who is loved and missed by family and friends.


Meet Donna

Donna has a rare form of muscular dystrophy that limits her ability to use a standard computer keyboard and mouse. She received an AT evaluation and was provided Fast-Track equipment that has allowed her to become employed from home. She works for a company that matches sign language interpreters who have specialized training with customers in need of medical or technical interpreting services. Donna was paired with the appropriate AT including voice recognition technology that allows full access to her computer and telephone interface.

Donna wrote, “IATP was instrumental in helping me to secure a laptop and computer accessories for my new work-from-home job. Not only did they accurately assess my disability-related needs, but they also worked with me to pinpoint the best specific equipment and software. IATP staff communication and knowledge has enabled me to be successful at my new job without having to worry about accommodating my disability. Thank you, IATP!”

No Place Like Home

Elevator in new homeSonya and Rick are familiar with IATP’s Financial Loan Program and have used it multiple times over the years to purchase modified vehicles and other Assistive Technology. They recently purchased a new home and in order to make it accessible for Sonya they made modifications such as widening doorways and remodeling a bathroom in the lower level with a roll in shower. To make the home totally functional, they once again decided to utilize the IATP ATLoan Program to fund the purchase of a home elevator. The elevator has provided Sonya with access to their entire home. More information on the IATP loan program is available on the Financial Loans for AT webpage.