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The Life-Changing Power of Assistive Technology

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(March 28, 2018) While most of us appreciate the positive role technology plays in our lives, for individuals with disabilities it can be life-changing.

"Assistive technology is the new frontier,” said Gil Trevino, PathPoint’s Community Integration Manager. “A child can now say to a parent ‘I love you’ with the help of an assortment of software applications, such as text-to-speech.”

Greig had limited verbal abilities prior to working with PathPoint’s Community Access Program team.  With the help of articulation software, he has made remarkable progress in unlocking his communication skills. “His parents remarked that he has spoken more clearly in the past two years than in his previous 20 years,” said Gil.

The use of assistive technology benefits persons served in PathPoint’s licensed day programs in all five county service areas: Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Los Angeles, and Kern. PathPoint has made significant investments in assistive technology devices and applications for use in its programs and is working with Cognixion to pilot a new text to speech application. Technology such as iPads, iMacs and large-screen mounted televisions, deliver content and applications in multiple formats; while specialized adaptive technology including “eye gaze,” and “switches,” enable individuals to use computers; access the internet; and express their thoughts, feelings, and desires.  One promising area of technology in the early testing stages are “think to speak technologies” which may one day help nonverbal individuals to speak through a smart device through their thoughts.

Jamie’s transformation is one of the most dramatic examples of the power of assistive technology. Jamie has physical disabilities that significantly limit her movement and speech. PathPoint staff worked with Jamie to customize switches that attach to her wheelchair and allow her to use a computer with small movements of her cheek. By giving Jamie this tool, it opened up her world completely. Recently, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a fear of doctors and medical environments. Jamie was able to conduct her own research through the internet. She found information and videos online that allowed her to understand the procedures she would undergo. Jamie was able to dispel her fears and gained confidence through her treatment. She is now cancer free and has even become a volunteer at a local hospital.

“We are proud of the progress being made by the people we support and we’re proud to be on the leading edge of using assistive technology to assist in those breakthroughs,” said Henry Bruell, PathPoint CEO.

(Photo: Joshua works on a variety of skills with assistive technology.)