Profiles is a publication of the Missouri Assistive Technology Advisory Council. Established in 1993 by state statute, the mission of the Missouri Assistive Technology Advisory Council is to increase access to assistive technology for all Missourians with disabilities. For additional information, contact us at 1-800-647-8557 (voice), 1-800-647-8558 (tty), or visit our website at at.mo.gov

Profiles

Dear Missouri Citizens:

The people you will meet in this book are a cross-section of Missouri. They come from the state's urban areas and its rural environs. They range in age from 4 to 77. Some are students, others are retired, but most work. They are fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters. In their spare time they volunteer in their communities, are involved in their churches and attend cultural and sporting events.

What these Missourians all have in common is their use of assistive technology. The term "assistive technology" is used to describe the array of special devices that, in essence, level the playing field for persons with disabilities. With the incorporation of assistive technology into their lives, people are able to go to school, work, and live full lives while contributing their talents and abilities.

Each story in this book provides a snapshot of how Missourians with disabilities use assistive technology every day and how important it is to their health, well-being, and independence. The Missouri Assistive Technology Council is proud to share these profiles with you and will continue to work to ensure that Missourians with disabilities have access to the assistive technology they need.

Sincerely,

Missouri Assistive Technology Council

Special Recognition

Senator Harold L. Caskey

Butler, Missouri

The Missouri Assistive Technology Council is pleased to announce that Senator Harold Caskey is receiving a 2002 Access Award from The American Federation for the Blind. This award is presented in recognition of Senator Caskey's legislative leadership in establishing programs and services that increase the independence of individuals with disabilities.

In the 2000 legislative session, Senator Caskey sponsored legislation that established the Missouri Telecommunication Access Program (TAP) for Internet, the first statewide adaptive computer equipment distribution program in the country. While most states have programs which provide voice-based adaptive telecommunication equipment such as amplified telephones and text telephones (TTYs), Senator Caskey's legislation created the first program in America which provides adaptive equipment needed for text-based telecommunications like the Internet. TAP for Internet provides a full range of computer adaptations including screen-readers, screen enlarging software and alternative keyboards.

One of those benefiting from the program is Dr. Howard Heidbrink, former Pleasant Hill Schools superintendent for many years. "(The delivery of the software and monitor) has opened up a whole new world that I thought was closed forever as a result of macular degeneration," he said. Many Missourians like Dr. Heidbrink are able to remain independent and active in their communities because of the equipment available through TAP for Internet. This innovative program created by Senator Caskey's legislation has set a new standard for all other states.

The Missouri Assistive Technology Council extends its congratulations to Senator Caskey for receiving this national award.

Kansas City Metro

Karri Johnson - Grandview, MO

(As told by her mother, Kim)

Karri is very social and enjoys going to sporting events like high school basketball and her sister's volleyball games. She loves watching football on TV. Karri was born premature, weighing only 1 pound, 10 ounces. She has severe cerebral palsy and epilepsy.

How Do You Use Assistive Technology?

Karri uses a power wheelchair and just bought a new seating system. A lift and lock down system for the van was purchased through the Kids Assistive Technology (KAT) program and has made transportation possible. Karri is now able to use the computer with the assistance of a joystick and she is eager to learn more about what the computer can offer her.

What Do You Think Your Life Would Be Like Without Assistive Technology?

Without assistive technology, Karri would be totally homebound and would not be able to take part in any family outings.

What Suggestion Would You Give To The Governor And The Legislature About The Support Of Assistive Technology?

It is very hard when parents get no assistance. You feel stuck and hopeless. Any form of help gives you the hope to continue on. Assistive technology is so worthwhile. Kids with disabilities deserve anything that will facilitate their abilities to shine through.

Kyle Ronan - Lee's Summit, MO

I am 16 years old and I am an only child of very supportive parents. I spend my weekends watching trains and have ridden Amtrack 150 times. I want to be a railroad engineer when I grow up and plan to attend Johnson County Community College where railroad engineers are trained.

How Do You Use Assistive Technology?

I have a learning disability and have trouble writing. I do all my writing assignments on an Alphasmart . I type them in to the AlphaSmart and print them out on the computer. Before I got my AlphaSmart, I was very frustrated about writing.

What Do You Think Your Life Would Be Like Without Assistive Technology?

It would not be easy to give up because I would be frustrated all the time.

What Suggestions Would You Give To The Governor And The Legislature About Support Of Assistive Technology?

One simple piece of assistive technology has enabled me to be a successful learner. Do not do anything to get rid of assistive technology.

Joseph Matovu - Kansas City, MO

I am an African-American who originally came from Uganda in search of higher education in business. I arrived in the United States in September of 1974. I attended Catholic University in Washington, D.C. and Gannon University in Erie, Pennsylvania. In the summer of 1975, while visiting friends in Wamego, Kansas, I sustained a spinal cord injury in a farm accident. After two and a half very grueling years of recovery, I went back to school at Rockhurst College where I graduated with a B.S./B.A. degree in 1980. For five years I worked for the Hyatt Hotel Corporation and in 1986 I left Hyatt to become the office manager for The WHOLE PERSON, Inc. I have been married for 30 years and have a 14-year-old son at Pembroke School where I am on the board of trustees.

How Do You Use Assistive Technology?

I use a wheelchair. It and other devices further my independence.

What Do You Think Your Life Would Be Like Without Assistive Technology?

Without the education and information that are now available about assistive technology, it would be very difficult for me.

What Suggestions Would You Give To The Governor And The Legislature About Support Of Assistive Technology?

I implore you to continue funding assistive technology in order to provide the disability community with the knowledge it needs.

Jim Jordan - Kansas City, MO

The military trusts me with its secrets. I am a computer specialist in information security at the Defense Finance and Accounting Service in Kansas City. In fact, I received the DFAS Employee of the Year for 2001. When I was 11 years old, I lost my vision due to an accident. That did not keep me from wrestling in high school and it definitely did not keep me from going to college. I was the first full-time, visually impaired student at the University of Tennessee to live on campus. I am now 43 years old. I am a member of the Lions Club and a member of the Progressive Baptist Church. I enjoy all kinds of sports. When I get the chance, I like to water ski, bowl or read.

How Do You Use Assistive Technology?

I use assistive technology both at home and at work. The assistive technology I use at work includes a scanner, braille embosser, power brailler and translation software. These items help me in all facets of my job. A talking clock, braille writer, braille labeler and tactile cards are among the assistive devices I use at home.

What Do You Think Your Life Would Be Like Without Assistive Technology?

Tough, it would be really tough in that there would be nothing to knock down the barriers with.

What Suggestions Would You Give To The Governor And The Legislature About Support Of Assistive Technology?

Assistive technology increases the quality of life for all disabled Missourians, regardless of the barrier or challenge faced.

Michelle Fiegl - Kansas City, MO

I am 42 years old and I am hearing impaired. I am the youngest of seven children. My mother was almost completely deaf before she died. Many of the women in my family have been diagnosed with a sensorineural hearing loss. My own hearing loss was not detected until I was 25 years old. I had no idea growing up that I was missing half the conversation. I just thought I was not very smart, which was not good for my self-esteem. I quit school in the middle of my junior year. I married, had three children and was later divorced. As a single parent I knew I would never make enough money to properly care for my family unless I got my GED. I was 32 when I decided to try college where I surprised myself by earning all A's. Now that my children are older, I'd like to continue my education and further my career.

How Do You Use Assistive Technology?

I have been involved in a study for a new hearing device called the Soundbridge which has since been approved by FDA and is now on the market. This device works better than my old hearing aids. It works more like the ear does - with vibration - so it improves the clarity of sound allowing me to understand more speech. At home and at work, I have volume control on the telephone. A personal FM system enables me to attend large meetings and conferences and know what the speaker is saying. Although hearing aids and the Soundbridge improve my ability to hear, I still miss many words. My hearing loss will eventually progress to the point that I will require the use of a TTY.

What Do You Think Your Life Would Be Like Without Assistive Technology?

Without assistive technology, I would have to resort to hand-written notes for communication with others. I would gradually isolate myself from the world around me - just as my mother did. I would end up another number in the welfare lines resulting in a state of depression and the loss of self-esteem.

What Suggestion Would You Give To The Governor And The Legislature About Support Of Assistive Technology?

Education and enforcement are crucial. Until I began working in the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services, I had no education about what assistive devices were available (other than hearing aids), or my rights as a hearing impaired individual. Someone needs to educate people, both consumers and businesses, about the laws already in place. There are a number of civil rights laws that do not help anyone because they either are not known by the general public and businesses, or are not being enforced. As example, a state law indicates I am exempt from paying tax when purchasing batteries for my hearing aids. But numerous stores seem unaware of this law. Unfortunately, many consumers, often older people living on a small pension, do not realize they are being cheated out of their money when stores do not adhere to such laws. I would like to see schools teach sign-language as an alternate language. My path has been a difficult one, but definitely worthwhile. Now it is up to you to make it easier for others so they can hear what they are missing and make something of their lives.

Wanda Porter - Kansas City, MO

I grew up on a farm near Polo, Missouri. Upon graduation from high school in 1943, I moved to Kansas City and began working in a bank and going to Kansas City Business School in the evenings. I started my banking career as a teller and ended it as a bank officer. In 1992, I lost my hearing. I also lost my job. The bank decided that because of my hearing loss they no longer wanted me as an officer. They did not even have the courtesy to talk to me--they wrote me a letter to tell me that I was no longer an employee. My job was not the only thing I lost. The bank took away my medical insurance, my dental insurance and canceled my life insurance policy. I have always been an active person. For many years I was involved in the Tall Tower Chapter of American Business Women. I held many offices in the association and was even named Business Woman of the Year in 1969. I have held season tickets to the Kansas City Chiefs ever since Lamar Hunt brought them to town. Today I live with my German Shepard named Kaiser III, a new puppy who replaced my well-loved dog, Kaiser II. Kaiser III is only a year old but he already knows how to respond to my needs. I have a cochlear implant. This is a unique device that has helped restore some of my hearing. I use a special telephone known as a Voice Carry Over (VCO) phone. The message from the person to whom I am talking comes across a screen so I can read it. I then respond to them by talking back. The VCO phone has been a godsend. Most of the time, since getting the cochlear implant, I also use an amplified phone. I use close captioning to help me understand what is happening on the television.

What Do You Think Your Life Would Be Like Without Assistive Technology?

I personally cannot imagine life without it.

What Suggestions Would You Give To The Governor And The Legislature About Support of Assistive Technology?

I would encourage the legislature and the governor to pass any bill that improves the lives of persons with disabilities. Some of the most important things that can be done include making sure access features such as ramps and VCO phones are available in every mall, restaurant and hotel.

West Central Missouri

Shari LaRoussa - Raymore, MO

I am an editor at the Defense Finance Accounting Service (DFAS) facility in Kansas City. I also serve on the DFAS Challenged Members Committee. This committee addresses the concerns and issues of employees with disabilities. For more than five years, I have served on this committee in a number of capacities. I was selected to represent all DFAS Centers nationwide and went to the Pentagon in 1997 and was recognized with an award by my employer as the Outstanding Woman of the Year at the Kansas City Defense Finance and Accounting Service Center. I hold a B.A. in Communications from Central Missouri State University. Antiques are my hobby and I am involved in many related activities. I am a member of the United Federation of Doll Collectors, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Tri-County Art League. I am also an avid grower of flowers and plants.

How Do You Use Assistive Technology?

I had polio as an infant, but was able to get around quite well with the use of crutches and long leg braces. However, as a result of a severely broken leg and the resulting long recuperation period, I am dealing with additional diminished strength in my legs and the subsequent onset of post-polio syndrome. Due to my limited strength, I now use either a wheelchair or an electric scooter to go any distance. My ability to continue working has been made possible by the DFAS Center's Flexiplace Program. This program allows me to telecommute part-time from my home using assistive technology.

What Do You Think Your Life Would Be Like Without Assistive Technology?

I would not be able to be as independent, nor would I be able to lead as fulfilled a life. My CCTV, as an example, is wonderful because it enables me to see again.

What Suggestion Would You Give The Governor And The Legislature About Support Of Assistive Technology?

I wish that governmental entities would provide devices to individuals with disabilities who wish to obtain them.

Floyd Wosoba - El Dorado Springs, MO

I am the third generation to work my family's farm. On 2,500 acres, I raise row crops and cattle. I acquired a spinal cord injury about a year and a half ago due to a fall. I am married and have two children, ages 10 and 12. I am also a professional auctioneer.

How Do You Use Assistive Technology?

I have a lift built-in to the back of my pickup that allows me to get into my truck as well as onto any of my farm machinery. I also have hand controls installed in all of my vehicles and have outfitted all of the gates on the farm with remote controlled openers. An automatic feeder on the back of my pickup lets me feed the cattle. A ramp was installed on my house through assistance provided by On My Own, a center for independent living.

What Would Your Life Be Like Without Assistive Technology?

Without assistive technology, things would not be as convenient.

What Suggestion Would You Give The Governor And The Legislature About Support Of Assistive Technology?

Affordability is a big issue. Without the assistance I received through AgrAbility and Vocational Rehabilitation, I would not have been able to get back to farming. Programs like these need to continue.

Northwest Missouri

Phillip Smith - Marceline, MO

I have been serving on the Marceline City Council for eleven years. For two of those years I was mayor of the town. I am 45 years old. I am also a C5-6 quadriplegic due to a diving accident seventeen years ago. Before my accident, I was a foreman on the Santa Fe Railroad. I am currently a door greeter at Wal-Mart. I volunteered for eight years at the local school where I helped work with the first graders. I have also volunteered at my local church and am on the Board at Rural Advocates for Independent Living. I have been married for twenty-five years, have two daughters and one granddaughter.

How Do You Use Assistive Technology?

I have a van that is adapted with a lift, hand controls and an automatic door opener. I use an electric wheelchair. I also use several low-tech devices such as a special handhold for my telephone, angled forks and spoons, and a splint that helps me eat. My home has several modifications to improve access such as a roll-in shower and a ramp. My friends and family recently built a ramp to the front door so that I now have two entry/exit points, which makes the home safer. I have an overhead lift that allows me to transfer from my bed to my wheelchair. This I built myself out of necessity since the cost of buying one from a manufacturer was prohibitive. I now have a Vermobile chair, which elevates and allows me to look people in the eye.

What Do You Think Your Life Would Be Like Without Assistive Technology?

I would be sitting in a corner.

What Suggestion Would You Give To The Governor And The Legislature About Support Of Assistive Technology?

People need to be informed as to what services are out there. I am currently in the Personnel Care Attendant Program. Regulations forbid my wife from being my attendant, but my daughter can be. I would like to see the legislation changed to allow a spouse to be an attendant.

Dave Farris - St. Joseph, MO

I split my time between teaching skiing and farming. Several years ago I took over operation of the family farm, which is 200 acres mostly dedicated to soybeans. I teach skiing in the Weston area and help with a winter sports clinic for disabled veterans. I also engage in competitive skiing and in wheelchair racing. In June of 1999 I competed in the Disabled Veterans Wheelchair Games in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I finished 2nd overall in the open class. I have recently completed computer electronics training at Vatterott College and I am pursuing a career as a computer technician. I am 51 years old and am a hip disartic amputee due to a farming accident in 1979.

How Do You Use Assistive Technology?

My prosthesis is state-of-the-art. It has a hydraulic knee and a flexible foot. My skiing equipment is adapted, as is my bicycle. I have a special air filled seating system in my jeep and one for my tractor that helps absorb shock and prevent discomfort.

What Do You Think Your Life Would Be Like Without Assistive Technology?

It would be very difficult. I wear my artificial leg every day and use it to work. Basically, it saves a lot of energy for me.

What Suggestion Would You Give To The Governor And The Legislature About The Support Of Assistive Technology?

Make changes to reduce the bureaucracy, which is encountered by individuals with disabilities in working with insurance companies. Prompter service that emphasizes the human angle, as opposed to the commercial, would enable me to get what I really need done in a timely manner. It would be helpful for insurance companies to have a representative (such as an occupational or physical therapist) to troubleshoot problems with durable medical equipment received by individuals. It would be helpful to have someone follow-up with the use of prosthetics for individuals with disabilities.

Northeast Missouri

Justin Hawkins - Mexico, MO

(As told by mother, Michelle)

At the age of ten, Justin was electrocuted and has required total care for the past three years. He lives at home with his parents and brothers.

How Do You Use Assistive Technology?

The lift-equipped van is the best assistive technology and is absolutely wonderful. Since having the lift-equipped van, Justin is able to go out in the community and I am able to take him to the grocery store. Wal-mart is his favorite place to shop as it elicits lots of smiles.

What Do You Think Your Life Would Be Like Without Assistive Technology?

It would be very difficult for us and Justin. Before the lift van, we strapped Justin in with the regular seat belt, which was very unsafe for him, not to mention difficult for the family when transferring him to his wheelchair.

What Suggestion Would You Give To The Governor And The Legislature About The Support Of Assistive Technology?

More money needs to be given to assistive technology. I looked everywhere for resources and only found assistance from Missouri Assistive Technology.

Lee Howerton - Hurdland, MO

Farming runs in my family. In combination with my father, we farm 1,400 acres in the northeastern corner of the state. We run cattle and sheep and raise hay. I was born with low vision and over my lifetime have developed light sensitivity. I am 38 years old and married with three children. I serve as the Trustee and Chairman of the Music Committee and am a Youth Leader Volunteer at church.

How Do You Use Assistive Technology?

The assistive technology I use primarily helps me to continue farming. My visual impairment has affected my ability to drive over the road. This was a problem since many parts of the farm were only reachable by driving on roads. To address this situation, I got a Kawasaki Mule, an all-terrain vehicle. This, in combination with a few physical alterations, lets me get to all corners of the farm safely. To compensate for the light sensitivity, I have a sunshade on my tractor and wear polar shields. I also use a hand-held monocular pocket magnifier. I use a Closed Circuit Television (CCTV), which I received from Vocational Rehabilitation, to help me do my farm books. I use a large print calculator. Through Rehab Services for the Blind and AgrAbility I received a computer with farm software and ZoomText enlargement software.

What Do You Think Your Life Would Be Like Without Assistive Technology?

It would not be as easy to stay on top of the work that needs to be done around the farm. Before getting the Mule, I found myself frequently having to choose between waiting on someone to get me where I needed to go, not getting there at all, or walking there. Now I can get where I need when I need. The use of a CCTV has allowed me to do my farm finances.

What Suggestions Would You Give To The Governor And The Legislature About Assistive Technology?

I received a lot of assistance through the AgrAbility Program. The folks with this program were professional and businesslike and everything they suggested had a purpose. If you have the ambition to do something, it is important that the help you may need is available. Assistive technology should be supported.

Central Missouri

Luci Bruyneel - Columbia, MO

George Bernard Shaw once wrote, "You see things and say 'Why?' but I dream things that never were and say 'Why not?'" His words reflect my philosophy of life. Though I have cerebral palsy and myasthenia gravis, I believe that I can achieve almost any task (within reason) if I approach it with a "can-do spirit." Despite physical challenges and many "you can't do that's," I earned a bachelor of arts in English and a master of arts in journalism. By focusing on my abilities, I established a career in desktop publishing. Currently, I'm employed as a publications specialist at a center for independent living. As the title implies, I'm responsible for designing, typesetting, and editing all of the center's educational and promotional materials. My position also requires that I advocate for disability rights. In my leisure hours, I enjoy any activity with a creative flair. Some of my most loved pastimes include: interior decorating, dollmaking, flower arranging, and gardening. I live independently in my own home with my husband and two cats.

How do you use assistive technology?

Assistive technology is an integral component of every aspect of my life. For mobility, I use a power wheelchair. For transportation, I use a lift-equipped van. In my home, I have disability-friendly appliances, speaker phones, lever-handled door knobs, remote-controlled light switches, and more. At work, I use a trackball instead of a mouse, a rotating filing system, a multi-disk CD ROM changer, an automatic document feeder for the scanner, and text-scanning software.

What do you think your life would be like without assistive technology?

Life without assistive technology would be unimaginable and very limited. I would not be a contributing member of society.

What suggestions would you give the Governor and the legislature about support of assistive technology?

Assistive technology puts competition and equality into disability. It greatly enhances the quality of life for people with disabilities and gives them more control of their daily activities. Increased funding for assistive technology should be supported.

Lashley Garnett - Centertown, MO

I spent 31 years in public education. I was a teacher, a principal and ended my career as director of buildings, grounds and purchasing. The majority of my career was spent in the Jefferson City School District. I am a farmer by hobby, though my wife would dispute this fact. I bought my family's farm in 1964 and a little over a decade later purchased a second farm. In all I farm 235 acres. I raise cattle and produce hay. I retired from education in December of 1993. In May of 1994, I was in a farming accident that left me paralyzed from the waist down.

How Do You Use Assistive Technology?

A lot of assistive devices I use are for mobility. I have a John Deere Gator that I use around the farm. My tractor is equipped with a lift and hand controls. I maneuver my manual wheelchair onto a winch elevated platform and am then lifted to the correct height to let me make a wheelchair to tractorseat transfer. I also have a wheelchair lift and hand controls installed on my van. My house has been modified to increase wheelchair access. Necessity is the mother of invention and so I devise lots of little adaptive devices and make modifications that let me do my work.

What Do You Think Your Life Would Be Like Without Assistive Technology?

Everybody has the choice of making the best of each day. Assistive technology is a tool that lets me achieve this goal.

What Suggestions Would You Give To The Governor And the Legislature About Support of Assistive Technology?

Monopoly laws need to be enforced. The price of assistive devices and medical equipment are grossly inflated. When I needed a new rim on my wheelchair, it cost me more than $250. That is more than the cost of some of the rims I buy for my farm vehicles. There is something wrong when we let suppliers gouge the disabled.

East Central Missouri

Ryan Triller - St. Charles, MO

(As told by his mother, Rhonda)

Ryan is 15 years old. He is fully included in the 10th grade at Francis Howell Central High.

How Do You Use Assistive Technology?

Ryan uses a DynaVox Communicator. Without this, he would not be able to communicate at school or at home. He converses back and forth with his 3 year old sister. She recognizes this as Ryan's voice. This is a dream come true. Ryan uses a power chair, hypothermic blanket, pulse oxymiter, a wheel chair lift van and a tracking lift system that gets him around the house.

What Do You Think Your Life Would Be Like Without Assistive Technology?

Without his assistive technology Ryan would not be able to have quality of life. It would be impossible for his care to be given to him at home.

What Suggestions Would You Give To The Governor And The Legislature About Support Of Assistive Technology?

Assistive technology should be supported. Legislation needs to make sure that insurance companies, places of employment, schools, and public places, should be accommodating for person with disabilities. Prisoners often have a better quality of life than persons with disabilities, who would often be prisoners in their own bodies without the help of assistive technology.

Vicki Jo Eaton - DeSoto, MO

I am a 44-year-old mother of two. I am visually impaired and physically disabled. I am constantly dizzy and at times I have bouts of vertigo. I commonly use a walking cane, but at times I need a support cane. All of this is due to a stroke that I suffered in 1993. At first I was much worse than I am now. I continue to improve. I hold a B.S. in Elementary Education. I have taught kindergarten, preschool and substituted for all ages. I also teach Bible classes for adults and children. I volunteer in the elementary school library. Presently, I am working part-time at Jefferson College.

How Do You Use Assistive Technology?

Computers are very helpful in letting me complete the tasks I need to perform. Zoomtext, a screen magnification program, is also a great benefit. I also listen to books on tape.

What Do You Think Your Life Would Be Like Without Assistive Technology?

Without assistive technology I would not be involved in some of the tasks that I am. Things like publishing a newsletter and a calendar for my church would be impossible. My job would be more difficult since I depend on computers, copiers, and closed-caption television to assist me in my job.

What Suggestions Would You Give To The Governor And The Legislature About Support Of Assistive Technology?

I think the governor and the legislature should consider making it easier to obtain assistive technology. As a housewife and a mother I was not eligible for certain types of aid. I only have a computer at home because it was a gift. It needs to be recognized that a person running a household, just like a person on a job, needs assistance. Paying bills, writing down recipes, jotting notes to teachers, or just writing a letter to a friend can be impossible without help. Students in public schools need more technology to help them through their education. This should include assistance at home as well as school. School systems seem reluctant to spend their money on the technology necessary for the children, so the state must be willing and able to see that they receive what they need.

Tom Tinsley - DeSoto, MO

I was an engineering professor for many years, and have now developed macular degeneration.

How Do You Use Assistive Technology?

ZoomText, a screen magnification program for computers, allows me to read and see things that previously I couldn't. As example, I can now see pictures of my two granddaughters that I never could before. It is a godsend! I received Zoomtext from the TAP for Internet program. I also have on my computer a screen reader program called Open Book , as well as a scanner. This allows me to take hardcopies of books and magazines, scan them and have them read back to me by the computer. I don't have to be so dependent on my wife to read to me.

What Do You Think Your Life Would Be Like Without Assistive Technology?

My life would not be as fulfilling or happy. I can get on the internet, as well as read e-mail, neither of which I could do before. It has brought me from sitting in a chair doing nothing to being really interested in the world around me.

What Suggestion Would You Give To The Governor And The Legislature About The Support Of Assistive Technology?

Make sure that funding to get assistive technology is available for people who have no resources.

Nathan Hoard - Wright City, MO

(As told by mother, Dorothy)

How Do You Use Assistive Technology?

Even though Nathan only weighs 50 lbs., at age 19, he was getting too big to be bathed in the kitchen sink. An elevated bath was built in the bathroom along with an accessible bathtub with grab bars for his sister who uses a wheelchair. Nathan was born with a developmental disability and many medical problems. Sometimes he has seizures that do not stop and that require a hospital visit, so a special wagon allows us to transport him.

What Do You Think Your Life Would Be Like Without Assistive Technology?

If it were not for the assistive technology, we would have to have someone else come and bathe and transport Nathan --- we couldn't do it ourselves, especially after I had open heart surgery.

What Suggestion Would You Give To The Governor And The Legislature About The Support Of Assistive Technology?

Support assistive technology funding - we tried for five years to get assistance and there is no way we would have gotten the bathroom modification without assistance from Missouri Assistive Technology.

St.Louis City and County

David Lowry - Dellwood, MO

(As told by his mother, Darlene)

David is a very active and busy 4 year old. He was born premature at 3 lbs. At the age of 18 months he was diagnosed with a severe hearing loss. The family bought a $1,500 hearing aid and David began attending Central Institute for the Deaf.

How Do You Use Assistive Technology?

With the assistance of the Kids Assistive Technology program, a better quality hearing aid costing over $2,500 was purchased during the summer. The change in David has been phenomenal! When the school year started, all of the teachers noticed a change. He is hearing better and he now talks non-stop and his speech is clearer. Family members can now talk normal instead of speaking slowly and he understands perfectly. He also listens better and is learning so much more in the classroom that he is being considered for a promotion. Previous concerns about cognitive ability have now disappeared.

What Do You Think Your Life Would Be Like Without Assistive Technology?

It is very difficult to describe in words how much the hearing aid has meant to David and our family!

What Suggestion Would You Give To The Governor And The Legislature About The Support Of Assistive Technology?

Assistive Technology has made our family a happier family! Continue to fund money for AT for children.

Katie Rodriquez Banister - Crestwood, MO

I have been a woman on wheels since an auto accident in 1990 left me a quadriplegic at the age of 25. I have a degree in Recreation from Central Missouri State University and, prior to my accident, was working in the field. Now I am a motivational speaker and serve as the president of Access-4-All, Inc. Community involvement is very important to me. I serve as a member of the Recreation Council Board, am coordinator of the Very Special Arts of Missouri Festival and am president of the Delta Center for Independent Living in St. Charles.

How Do You Use Assistive Technology?

To write, to eat, to transport myself around, every day of my life I use assistive technology. The tenodesis splint I use to apply my make-up is the piece of assistive technology most important to me. It allows me to maintain my femininity and feel good about myself.

What Do You Think Your Life Would Be Like Without Assistive Technology?

Without assistive technology, my life would not be as fulfilling. Life drastically changed for me in 1990 and it has been a struggle to regain as much independence as possible. I do not mind asking for help, but I relish the times I can do things on my own.

What Suggestions Would You Give To The Governor And The Legislature About Support Of Assistive Technology?

Three things come to mind. First, invite constituents with disabilities to share their assistive technology success stories in a public way with other legislative members. Second, publish success stories. Third, appropriate funding and pass laws that enable people with disabilities to do as much as possible on their own. Wouldn't everyone want that?

Beverly Armstrong - Richmond Heights, MO

I graduated from the Missouri School for the Blind and went on to Missouri Valley College, where I obtained a B.A. in Human Relations. For seven years I worked in public relations for 1st National Bank in St. Louis. I became a stay at home mom when my daughter was born. When she started school, I began volunteering for Meals with Wheels, which I did for seventeen years. In 1989, at the age of 52, I became the hunger action coordinator for the Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy. I also began using a computer for the first time. (I initially thought I was going to blow it up!) My job responsibilities include working with the hunger ministries of more than 100 churches. In addition, I serve on the board of the St. Louis Area Food Banks and on the boards of three United Way supported emergency food and shelter programs.

How Do You Use Assistive Technology?

A screen reader program used in conjunction with my computer helps me complete word processing tasks. For taking notes I use a device called a Braille Lite. A braille watch helps me keep track of time and a talking calculator helps me monitor the funds I am responsible for.

What Would Your Life Be Like Without Assistive Technology?

Extremely limited. Without adaptations to my computer and the other forms of assistive technology I use, I would not be able to do the work I do.

What Suggestions Would You Give To The Governor And The Legislature About Support Of Assistive Technology?

For people with disabilities to be part of the workplace, it is imperative that they make assistive technology available.

Scott Higdon - Florissant, MO

I have a B.S. in Computer Science and Math, a B.A. in Earth Science, a M.S. in Geography and another M.S. in Artificial Intelligence. I have been employed by the U.S. Government for the last eleven years. I am 36 years old and have cerebral palsy. Away from work, I am involved in my church and serve as a trustee for Barrington Downs. I enjoy board games, travel, hunting, fishing and being outdoors.

How Do You Use Assistive Technology?

My primary forms of assistive technology are my electric wheelchair and my adapted van. At work I have a computer that has voice-activation capabilities. Where possible, I like to design and make my own assistive devices.

What Do You Think Your Life Would Be Like Without Assistive Technology?

Life would be pretty boring. Without assistive technology, I do not think I would be able to do a lot of the things that I do.

What Suggestions Would You Give To The Governor And The Legislature About Support Of Assistive Technology?

It is incredibly important to all individuals, not just persons with disabilities. If you make a world that is universally accessible, everyone will be better off.

Robert Steve Korb - Wildwood, MO

I graduated from the Veterinary Technology Program at Jefferson College and am now working at Webster Grove Veterinary Hospital. I am 34 years old. While pregnant with me, my mother contracted rubella (German measles). As a result I was born with a profound hearing loss. My interests include cooking, horseback riding and the Raptor Center at the Wild Bird Sanctuary, where I am a volunteer.

How Do You Use Assistive Technology?

In the classroom, I used real-time captioning. Real-time captioning really helps me to capture large amounts of information. When conversing on the telephone, I use either a TTY or Missouri Relay. My television is outfitted with close captioning so that I can understand what is being said.

What Do You Think Your Life Would Be Like Without Assistive Technology?

My life would be miserable if I had no assistive technology. Without real-time captioning, I would miss a lot of information. If I did not use the Relay service, I would not be able to communicate with both hearing and hearing-impaired people. If I did not have closed captioning on my television, I would be depressed and miserable.

What Suggestions Would You Give To The Governor And The Legislature About Support of Assistive Technology?

When the technology becomes available, I would suggest that there be a way to have closed-captioning in the movie theaters (rear-view captioning is currently the only technology available in movie theaters). I would also suggest that all television commercials be closed-captioned and that all news stations use real-time captioning, especially for the weather forecast. I realize that there is a lack of people who do real-time captioning, but I would like to see funding for the improvement of real-time captioning in the schools.

Nancy Verderber - St. Louis, MO

I live and work in St. Louis. For almost 20 years, at both a non-profit organization and in school districts, I have worked as a counselor and administrator. I am also an adjunct faculty member at Webster University, St. Louis University School of Social Work, and Maryville University's Rehab Counseling Department. In addition to being a licensed professional counselor, I have a B.A. in Social Work and a M.A. in Rehabilitation Administration Services. I am happiest when working with families who have young children with disabilities. As someone who was born with cerebral palsy, I know first hand the importance of a strong family support system. When I have the time, being outside on a beautiful day or being curled up with a great book are among my favorite things.

How Do You Use Assistive Technology?

I use assistive technology in a variety of ways. Assistive technology that I utilize each day includes a three-wheeled motorized cart, a van equipped with a wheelchair lift, a computer with adapted software, a variety of adapted kitchen utensils, a keyless door lock, a porch lift, an electronic calendar, dressing aids, and bathroom grab bars.

What Do You Think Your Life Would Be Like Without Assistive Technology?

Assistive technology is an integral part of my life. Without it I would be very dependent on others for physical assistance at home, at work and within the community. My employability would also be lessened.

What Suggestions Would You Give To The Governor And The Legislature About Support Of Assistive Technology?

Often the lack of financial access to purchase assistive technology keeps much of Missouri's disabled population in a cycle of poverty and unwillingly dependent on the system. Missouri's citizens with disabilities need legislation that provides consumer controlled financial opportunities to obtain assistive technology. Legislation is needed that addresses the lack of accountability insurance companies have with regard to purchasing much needed assistive technology for individuals with disabilities. Another avenue to explore in this arena are tax breaks for those purchasing assistive technology.

Southeast Missouri

Ryan Sutterer - Perryville, MO

When I was 15 years old, I went from being perfectly healthy to totally paralyzed in one day, and was eventually diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis, which is inflammation of the spinal cord. I regained arm movement and am a wheelchair user now. I am in Who's Who of American Students, on the Honor Roll, and in National Honor Society.

How Do You Use Assistive Technology?

I use assistive technology every day in many ways. A van lift enables me to be more independent and mobile. I would not have this lift if it were not for the Kids Assistive Technology (KAT) Program. The van is also equipped with hand controls, which I am using to take drivers training so I can get my drivers permit and license so I can commute to college next year. I also use a neurocare machine daily and a standing machine.

What Do You Think Your Life Would Be Like Without Assistive Technology?

My life would be much more difficult, less mobile, and less independent without assistive technology.

What Suggestion Would You Give To The Governor And The Legislature About The Support Of Assistive Technology?

I would suggest continued support of assistive technology. It is absolutely necessary for people to live full lives.

Brandon Hinkle - Cape Girardeau

How Do You Use Assistive Technology?

I am 17 years old and have a severe/profound hearing loss. I have relied heavily on hearing aids. I have a special fire alarm, alarm clock, and telephone. These devices alert me by either flashing, ringing louder than normal or vibrating. I use an adapted telephone called a Voice Carry Over or VCO, this allows me to use the telephone with my hearing aids or if they are not working I can use the Relay Service.

What Do You Think Life Would Be Like Without Assistive Technology?

It would be very difficult for me to function in my school and community. I currently work a part time job, am a good student, a varsity level athlete, and active in my church. When I was younger I participated in youth sports and scouting. Without hearing aids participation would have been nearly impossible.

What Suggestions Would You Give To The Governor And The Legislature About Support Of Assistive Technology?

There needs to be funding available for all people to get the assistive technology they need to function independently. My family is middle-income and has difficulty finding funding assistance. We simply do not have the money to be buying hearing aids and supplies and getting repairs all the time. I worry about how I will be able to buy these things when I am no longer living with my parents. If I don't have these things I will have trouble living independently, working, and being a part of the community.

Mike McElwain - St. Genevieve, MO

I am 28 years old. In high school I was on the wrestling team, on the football team and on the school newspaper. I was a very active person. In 1991, my senior year, some buddies and I took a trip to visit a college we were thinking about attending. On the way home the driver fell asleep at the wheel and rolled the van. I sustained a C4-5 spinal cord injury, making me a quadriplegic. Despite all that, I made it to my high school graduation that year and received my diploma.

How Do You Use Assistive Technology?

Assistive technology is a major part of my life, enabling me to have independence in some areas of my life. I have a roll-in shower and shower wheelchair. For 30 to 45 minutes every other day I use a hydraulic standing table that my dad built for me. My motorized wheelchair, along with my electric van lift, give me the most independence. I like to read and use a reading stand to hold my books. I would like to find a page-turner that separates the pages. There is a computer in my living room that I use daily for checking out stock quotes, researching medication, learning about spinal cord research, e-mailing my relatives, and checking out football games. The speakerphone I have was obtained through the Telecommunications Equipment Program for Telephone. This phone is equipped with a voice switch, pillow switch, air switch and lapel microphone. It works great. I want to look into an environmental control unit that will operate my satellite dish and also operate my adjustable bed. If I am able to obtain the environmental control unit, it will allow me to go to sleep when I want and not have to rely on someone turning off the television and lowering my bed for me.

What Do You Think Your Life Would Be Like Without Assistive Technology?

Without assistive technology I would have to rely 100% on others for all of my needs. I am very appreciative for all the assistive equipment I have. My life would be so different without it.

What Suggestion Would You Give The Governor And The Legislature About Support Of Assistive Technology?

My expectation is that the governor and legislature will continue to recognize the importance of assistive technology in the disability world and that they do something about making this equipment more affordable. The approval of the sales tax exemption on assistive technology is a start in the right direction. My desire is for research to continue to develop new and better assistive devices.

Marie Thompson - Portageville, MO

I am 68 years of age and have been visually impaired since I was 18 months old. With only a cane, I managed to make it through regular school in St. Louis. I went to Kansas City to work in a factory and to further my education. While there, I met my husband, married and had two daughters. I now have four grandsons and two great grandchildren that I help to care for. My husband and I have retired to a rural area in the Bootheel. I am very independent and am very involved with church and community activities. I also do volunteer work for Headstart and I am the president of two affiliates of the Missouri Council of the Blind. I am working on a new law book pertaining to service animals for people with all disabilities. I also enjoy doing telephone fundraising.

How Do You Use Assistive Technology?

Five years ago I acquired a seeing eye dog I named Ringo. Ringo allows me to continue to be independent. I have all sorts of devices that Atalk@ to me such as a watch, clock, thermometer, scale, and blood pressure cuff. I have used a braille writer and I carry a slate and stylus with me to take notes. However, I have also entered the computer age and have a computer with speech output.

What Do You Think Your Life Would Be Like Without Assistive Technology?

Without assistive technology, life would be bleak. I would not be active in the community.

What Suggestions Would You Give To The Governor And The Legislature About Support Of Assistive Technology?

There are many other assistive devices I would have if prices were more affordable.

South Central Missouri

Breanna Harmon - Cadet, MO

(As told by her mother, Michelle)

How Do You Use Assistive Technology?

Breanna is 5 years old and was born with spina bifida, hydrocephalus and is paralyzed from the waist down. The Mobile Stander that she recently received with the assistance of the Kids Assistive Technology (KAT) Program, allows her to be positioned upright and move herself around. She loves the freedom and self-esteem that it gives her being able to be at the same level as everyone else. It is also therapeutic for her body's growing bones and muscles. The Variety Club bought Breanna a Hand-Propelled Trike, which has allowed her hours of enjoyment being able to play with other kids her age.

What Do You Think Your Life Would Be Like Without Assistive Technology?

Boring would describe life without assistive technology. Breanna would be dependent on others to move and position her or she would just sit like a vegetable all the time.

What Suggestion Would You Give To The Governor And The Legislature About The Support Of Assistive Technology?

The cost of assistive technology is astronomical. With the exception of the manual wheelchair, insurance doesn't cover most assistive technology. Please support in any way possible money for families to get assistive technology.

Herman Vance - Steelville, MO

I am a husband and father of three children. I am 36 years old and am 5 years post-injury. Due to a diving accident, I am a C4-6 quad. Before my accident I worked in a factory in Tennessee calibrating machinery. My hobbies are fishing, hunting, reading and computers. I have now been working for over a year at Disabled Citizens Alliance for Independence as an Access Specialist, working on ADA compliance for public places.

How Do You Use Assistive Technology?

I have a stand-up wheelchair, obtained through the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, which allows me to stand up and perform duties around the house. My stand up chair allows me a better view when we go on family outings (ball games, zoos, sightseeing). My van is lift equipped and has hand controls and increases my independence. This is very important since I am really involved in supporting my three children's school activities. My oldest daughter is a High School Cheerleader, my middle daughter is a volleyball player and straight A student, and my son enjoys the outdoors. We went out deer hunting together this year, and last year I got my first deer since I have been paralyzed and it felt really good. Also a couple of years ago my wife and I found a handicap lake, Council Bluff, where we take our family and stay the day. Weather permitting, we are there every weekend in the summer. They have a handicap ramp that I go down in my manual chair and float out into the water, with my life jacket on of course. That is something else I thought I'd never do again, and really didn't think I would want to, but I love it!

What Do You Think Your Life Would Be Like Without Assistive Technology?

I am so thankful for assistive technology. If it wasn't there I wouldn't have a life. I enjoy living life to the fullest. Without my assistive technology I would be dependent on someone else for all my needs. Rather than going by to pick up a friend, I would be waiting for a ride.

What Suggestions Would You Give To The Governor And The Legislature About Support For Assistive Technology?

I would like to see more people with disabilities getting assistive technology without worrying about how to pay for it. I think the residents of Missouri would feel that their money was well spent if some of the tax money left over from state taxes went to fund assistive technology and other services for people with disabilities.

Amber Andersen - Buffalo, MO

22 years ago I was born with spina bifida. I graduated in 1998 from Buffalo High School and am currently living at home. I enjoy listening to country music and playing with my niece and nephew.

How Do You Use Assistive Technology?

I have used assistive technology for most of my life, in particular a power wheelchair and a sliding board.

What Do You Think Your Life Would Be Like Without Assistive Technology?

Without the devices I use, my life would be extremely limited. I rely on them to get me places.

What Suggestions Would You Give To The Governor And The Legislature About Support Of Assistive Technology?

Make it easier to get assistive technology through the Medicaid process. There is too much red tape involved.

Southwest Missouri

Brittany Tillman - Ash Grove, MO

(As told by her mother, Elaine)

Brittany is a sophomore at Mt. Vernon High School who loves shopping, being with her friends, talking on the phone and modeling. Her friends and family admire her for her sense of style, her upbeat personality, and her zest for life. Brittany was born with cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, among many other pieces of assistive technology.

How Do You Use Assistive Technology?

With assistive technology and the help of a great teacher, Brittany receives an inclusive education. Family and school personnel have worked as a team to see what will work and then implement it. In school, Brittany uses a communication book, Intellikeys keyboard, an adapted writing utensil, and switches. At home, various types of assistive technology are utilized, from an accessible bathtub to a picture phone to an adapted, weighted, Velcro spoon. Through the Kids Assistive Technology (KAT) Program, the family now has a van lift to transport this active teenager to Future Business Leaders of America meetings, school dances, therapies, and other extra-curricular activities.

What Do You Think Your Life Would Be Like Without Assistive Technology?

Life would be much more challenging. Brittany would not be independent and she would be stuck at home, which would reduce social and cognitive skills, not to mention decreased self-esteem. Assistive technology gives Brittany more and more options to start thinking about independent living, to help her achieve higher levels of education, to help her participate in activities in her own community, and to engage in hobbies and recreational activities.

What Suggestion Would You Give To The Governor And The Legislature About The Support Of Assistive Technology?

Assistive technology enables functions that couldn't be performed by any other means. It is essential to have assistive technology for independence, communication, employment, self-esteem, social living, and daily living. A person can meet a lot of goals with assistive technology. Assistive technology breaks down barriers for people with disabilities and it should be easy to grasp and not so hard to get ahold of. I encourage legislators to be open and responsive to the needs of parents and families in Missouri and hear our message.

David Gustafson - Kimberling City, MO

(As told by his mother, Marnie)

David is a bright, energetic 9-year-old. He is a third grader at Reeds Spring Primary School and is functioning at the top of his class. He enjoys baseball, reading, playing on the computer, constructing things, swimming and riding roller coasters. At 18 months he was diagnosed with a profound bilateral hearing loss. His primary mode of communication is American Sign Language. David hopes to get a hearing alert dog so he can become even more independent.

How Do You Use Assistive Technology?

At both home and school, David uses many types of assistive technology. This technology helps him monitor environmental sounds, use the telephone, watch television, and be alerted in case of an emergency. An FM System, hearing aids, a TTY, an auditory trainer, a vibrating alarm clock and various alerting devices are among the devices he uses.

What Do You Think Your Life Would Be Like Without Assistive Technology?

Life experiences around him would be missed without assistive technology. He would feel disconnected from his family and friends.

What Suggestion Would You Give To The Governor And The Legislature About Support Of Assistive Technology?

There should be some sort of pricing control on assistive technology. This would allow more people with disabilities and their families to afford the equipment they need.

Abby Phipps - Lamar, MO

(As told by her mother, Connie)

How Do You Use Assistive Technology?

Abby sustained a severe head injury in 1995 at the age of 5 in an auto accident caused by a drunk driver. At age 11, Abby understands what is going on around her but is unable to verbalize and therefore communicates with a DynaVox augmentative communication system. It took three years to get this device approved. She is now able to communicate with other students, the teacher, her paraprofessional, friends, and family. She recently started using a head switch to access the computer. For therapy, the family built a whirlpool onto the house, and a lift allows Abby to utilize it for improving her circulation. Everything is a step to learning something new and progressing on. Once the head switch is mastered, the goal for the future is to use it for a motorized chair.

What Do You Think Your Life Would Be Like Without Assistive Technology?

Abby would be frustrated without being able to communicate with others. Without assistive technology, she was ignored and people thought that she didn't know what was going on. They now know better.

What Suggestion Would You Give To The Governor And The Legislature About The Support Of Assistive Technology?

Funding for assistive technology is an ongoing issue. Technology will change and Abby's needs will change. The problems are so complex, but technology makes all the difference.

MATAC

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Call the Missouri AT office about available programs, product information on assistive technology, for training on assistive technology, or for information about assistive technology in state and federal legislation.

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