Freedom Scientific Learning Systems Group Presents
Happy New Year and Good Teaching and Learning for All
Outstanding Services Are Being Offered to All People in Need of Assistive Technology in West Central Ohio!
Our regional managers are constantly meeting wonderful people serving people with special needs. These people may be in schools at all educational levels; they may be serving in hospitals or in many different types of service organizations. Recently, our Eastern Regional Manager was duly impressed by the Goodwill/Easter Seals Miami Valley Assistive Technology Services (GESMV). He felt so strongly about the terrific work being done at this center that he suggested that it be the focus of a WYNNing Word newsletter. He wanted their good work and good news to be recognized as an excellent example of a successful support center.
Making a Difference for a Quarter Century
“When we see faces light up and teachers tell us how assistive technology is making a difference in their classrooms, we know we are making an impact on individuals with a disability, a teacher, an employer, or a parent,” explains Kevin Leonard, Coordinator, Goodwill/Easter Seals Miami Valley Assistive Technology Services.
The Center began 25 years ago as the Technology Resource Center. It expanded its service nine years ago when the Center merged with the GESMV. The vision for the Center is to make it possible for all people to live, learn, work, and play in their communities. In order to complete this vision the Center's mission is to empower people with disabilities and other needs to achieve independence and enhance their lives. The Center provides employment, enhances the quality of life for children, youth, adults, and offers senior services. A new service and excellent source of information for the Center has been the addition of their Web site, Assistive Technology Services.
“Through this site people living with disabilities can access technology - devices, aids, and other tools. This technology makes living with a disability more manageable,” said Kevin. “Assistive technology can give a voice to a person who is unable to speak because of a disability; it can provide a form of early intervention and teach children with autism social skills that will be important as they begin school. There are many uses for assistive devices; people just don't always know what is available to them.” He continued telling us about the services provided by GESMV.
Services at the GESMV
- Assistive Technology Lending Library – an extensive collection of hardware and software available for short term loan for individuals, professionals, and organizations
- AT Practitioner – the Center has professionals on staff who provide assistive technology evaluations, training, computer access and troubleshooting for individuals with disabilities
- Refurbished Computers for Special Needs Classrooms – this project, sponsored through the Ohio Department of Education, builds computer labs for special needs classrooms
- Committee to Aid the Blind – the Center is a fiscal agent for Dayton Foundation and Turner Foundation, which allows for financial assistance to purchase equipment that will increase the quality of life for people who are legally blind in Montgomery, Darke, Miami, Preble Greene, and Clark counties
- Refurbished Computers for People with Disabilities – through a contract with AT Ohio, AT Specialist refurbish donated computers; also, as a Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher the center loads new operating systems and provides limited technical support
Funding to provide all these services comes from the Ohio Department of Education, County Mental Retardation & Developmental Disabilities Services, AT Ohio, Sightless Children Club, Rehabilitation Services Commission and subscriptions to the Assistive Technology Lending Library.
The entire organization of the GESMV employs more than 800 people and 40 percent of the workforce has some type of disability. They operate more than 50 locations including direct service sites and retail stores and cover 23 counties in west central Ohio. They also contract with businesses to provide employment services for people with special needs.
Assistive Technology Lending Library
We were very impressed with the broad array of products GESMV has for individuals with special needs. Products included offered support for Autism, Aspergers, Learning Disabilities, Physical Disabilities, Visual and Hearing Impairments. Through the Center, particularly the Lending Library, GESMV is reaching out to individuals with disabilities, educators, students, speech and occupational pathologists, and family members. Kevin said, “Most people who come in the Center have no idea of the kind of products that are available to help the disabled.” He continued, “People with special needs leave encouraged by the Center's support, and teachers are thrilled with the tools that can be brought back to aid their students. Employers know they will have well-trained employees and that they all will receive continued support from the Center's staff.”
The Center does not stop at just having the products available for those who need them. Evaluation and training are extremely important aspects to the success of the Center. Toni Ramsey, the AT Practitioner, is certified by Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA) and Commission on Accredited Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). Toni also is Individual Option and Level 1 Certified. This means that this certification allows the Center to be a waiver provider for individuals with mental retardation or other varying disabilities. This certification allows the Center to sign up to help purchase equipment that will allow individuals to live or work more independently.
Toni's expertise assures clients excellent assessment of the needs of clients at the Center, at work, home, in a care facility or in habilitation center. After the initial assessment, Toni will then help the clients choose the appropriate products and train them to successfully use their new tools. She follows-up with clients and troubleshoots the situation in order to ensure a successful environment. The Center is a full service provider.
WYNN at GESMV
The Freedom Scientific Learning Systems Group is honored to have been chosen to have their products offered at GESMV. WYNN and Test Talker are being suggested for those looking for tools for the improvement of functioning for the learning disabled.
Toni has been trained in both products and says, “We work a lot with individuals who have learning disabilities. WYNN is an ideal software program that allows them to follow along while it highlights each word. The dictionary function allows the user to look up words as they go. These functions allow the user to read and comprehend more quickly and independently.”
WYNN and Test Talker demos are installed in the GESMV lab for all to test out. Toni has found that people are choosing the products to help overcome reading and comprehension disabilities. She hears often, “Being an auditory learner, WYNN is just what I need for college courses.” She also said a student with limited mobility recently told her, “With WYNN I am able to complete college course work. I can keep up with class assignments and take tests much more successfully.”
Feedback from students using WYNN and Test Talker continually gives high marks to WYNN’s Dictionary function, Highlight tools, and Web reading ability. Students are saying that they are thrilled to have WYNN installed on their laptops allowing them to have a successful learning environment no matter what or where the class may be. Even parents are noticing the improvement and are purchasing the software for home computers for younger siblings! Kevin told us, “Sometimes the impact is learning WYNN while other times the stronger impact may be in just learning that this kind of product exists.”
Serving the Age Continuum – From School to Employment
The Center has also used WYNN for clients to fill out job applications. Once again, WYNN is providing the solution needed by people with special needs. WYNN provides the vehicle for completing tasks independently. This is extremely important for building the self confidence of those looking to join the workforce.
Kevin sums it up very well, “I think the impact of our Center is that we are changing lives of people with disabilities and giving them the ability to read and write. Without these basics skills they are unable to graduate, become employed or enjoy all the benefits that come with these skills. When we see faces light up and teachers tell us how assistive technology is making a difference in their classrooms we know we are making an impact on the individual with a disability!”
We applaud the dedication of the staff of GESMV and praise their efforts to improve the quality of lives of special needs people, their families, and their employers.
Job well done!
Keep an Eye on the News
Did you know that we give away products at many of our conferences? Some of the latest “WYNNers” are:
- Kathy Landes, Denton, TX
- Laura Halvorson, Mesquite, TX
- Cindi Kieck, Oak Creek, WI
- Beth Snively, Taylorsville, IN
- Sally Temple, Ashland, VA
- Elena Tobin, Paoli, PA
Congratulations to all our WYNNers!
Tip of the Month
We recently received a letter from a father about what a powerful tool WYNN has been for his son with autism. We thought this excerpt from his heart-felt letter would be beneficial to our readers.
Home Use for a Student with Autism
In our home environment we have used WYNN for five years. This application has many beneficial aspects. Many children with Autism have light sensitivity issues and he likes to use a dark background and white letters. I can't say why this is but it seems to help him interact more effectively with the written word. The highlighting function of WYNN allows him to see a word as it is pronounced and he is improving his decoding skills on a slow but steady curve. He also benefits from the ability to adjust the speed of the reading assignment. This gives him control over the work.
Of course, the most beneficial aspect is just being able to hear the assignment. He is an aural learner who can understand a lot of material if it is read to him, and WYNN does this. A final important aspect of WYNN is that, as a teenager, he likes to have independence, and WYNN gives a degree of this independence and control over reading he would not otherwise have.
We have been very grateful for the benefits this solution has provided to our son. I would suggest other parents try the tool. Each of these children are different, have different learning styles, but it might provide educational benefits to your child too.
This serves to remind us that whether a person is learning disabled, has PDD (Pervasive Developmental Disorder), or has Autism, WYNN can be a useful tool for developing good life-long learning skills.
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About Freedom Scientific LSG
Freedom Scientific, Learning Systems Group provides products that are acclaimed for their easy-to-use interface, innovative technology, and flexible but powerful features. Designed by educational experts to enhance the learning process for struggling students, WYNN provides reading and writing solutions. Freedom Scientific LSG also created TestTalker, which provides test-taking preparations and worksheet completion. To find out more about our products, please visit us at www.freedomscientific.com/lsg.