Tuesday, August 23, 2011

AT is Going Back to School

Shannon Coe, CFILC’s Reuse & Finance Coordinator, interviewed Nellie DeMeerleer, YO! Volunteer


As students are getting ready for the new school year, I wanted to find out what kind of AT youth are using these days in college.  So I decided to interview Nellie, a youth volunteer for the Youth Organizing (YO!) Disabled and Proud Program.  Nellie is 21-years-old and is also a third year student at Sacramento City College (SCC).  Due to her hydrocephalus, she is blind in the left eye and has Petit Mal Seizures. Nevertheless, Nellie is able to succeed in school because of accommodations, including AT, provided for her by the Disability Resource Center (DRC) at SCC.  In my interview with Nellie, this is what I discovered.

1.    When did you start using Assistive Technology (AT) for school?

I started using AT at a very young age.  In school I use large print because it makes reading less difficult.  I also use a magnifier when large print isn’t available. I also wear glasses to help my Nystagmus and farsightedness.   

2.    What are some of the accommodations you request at school?

Some accommodations I like to have are: a note taker, extra time on tests, a recorder to record the lecture, and a desk in the front of the class.

3.    Which AT do you find most useful and why?

I really like using a recorder for lectures because it makes me less worried about getting all of the notes down. Instead I get to relax and listen to the lecture and participate in class discussions.

4.    How can you access AT in your school?

I get the AT I need at the DRC at Sacramento City College. Once I enroll in my classes and figure out which accommodations I need for each class, my teacher fills out a sheet for me to sign, and I give it to the DRC. 

5.     What made you realize that AT is essential at school and work?

I realized that using AT can help me be more successful at school and work, and that using AT is not a hassle or a stigma anymore.  When I was in high school, there was a stigma with using AT.  But as youth are becoming more aware and open to AT, I see more of my peers using AT in school now. 
  
6.    How has AT helped you be more independent at school or work? 

Using AT makes me feel more independent because I don’t need to ask for assistance at school or work to get my assignments completed.  Also, AT has changed a lot in the last few years.  In the past, I carried 14pt. font large print materials to class but now I only need to carry one book because my teachers post electronic documents online.  All I have to do now is change the font size.  AT has helped me a lot so I encourage other students to take advantage of it. 

After my interview with Nellie, I came to realize how much AT has changed and improved in the last decade, especially the perception of AT among youth.  It no longer has the same stigma as in the past. Now youth with disabilities can succeed in their education without the fear of being different.

Now I want to hear from you. How has AT helped you succeed in school?

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