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Client using assistive technology at home
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Peter in High School











 Pete in college


A video produced by Pete recently won first prize in a nationwide YouTube Video Contest conducted by the Assistive Technology Industry Association.  The goal of the contest was to raise awareness of how assistive technology can change lives.

Because he is unable to travel to Chicago to accept the award, Pete asked the association to donate the cost of the trip to the Darryl Stingley Independent Living Program he is establishing with Easter Seals.  He also donated his complimentary conference registration to Eric Oddleifson, the Easter Seals technology specialist who worked with him.


 Peter recently had an article published in Closing the Gap Organizations news letter:

Closing the Gap


Listen to Pete's testimonial

Pete had other computer trainers in the past, but none like his current one from Easter Seals, Assistive Technology Specialist Eric Oddleifson.  Other trainers kept looking at their watches while they were with him, and they emphasized what he couldn’t do because of his disability.

“Eric never looked at the clock,” Pete said.  “He just said, ‘What would you like to do next?’  I didn’t think there were trainers out there like Eric.”

Pete became permanently disabled 20 years ago during his final semester in college.  Now, this Canton resident has many of the limitations of a quadriplegic and is bedridden.

Easter Seals was called in to train Pete to use certain computer equipment and to customize it in ways that would increase his independence.  Eric’s challenge was to give Pete a hands-free way to control both his computer and the other devices he uses in his daily life.

Pete had been using Dragon Naturally Speaking software to dictate to his computer.  Eric added a second type of voice-recognition software and other equipment that enable Pete to restart his computer when it freezes up.  He also customized computer commands that function as shortcuts to compensate for Pete’s physical limitations and overcome the weaknesses of certain software programs.

With his voice-activated environmental control unit, Pete now controls his hospital bed, lights, TV, cable, LCD TV computer monitor and even the drapery opener.  Pete recalled one night after he had just received the unit and his parents had gone out to dinner.  For the first time, he was able to turn on the TV without help and watch a Red Sox game.

“Yeah, it’s just a ball game, but those little things add up in life,” Pete said.

His new computer capabilities meant new freedom. Now Pete buys and sells items online, is completing his college degree and has a new part-time job writing for a Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission newsletter.  He also recently wrote a magazine article about his experience with voice recognition technology.

The articles he writes are a way for this articulate, intelligent man to fulfill his goal of educating people about assistive technology.  “This never would have happened without the outstanding training I received from Eric,” he said. “Everyone at Easter Seals has been so responsive.”

Pete’s formal training sessions with Eric have ended, but the two still keep in touch.  Eric stops by occasionally just to hang out and share a pizza.

As a thank you, Pete has recommended that the national Easter Seals organization give special recognition to Eric, his Mass Rehab counselor and his advocate from the Massachusetts Office on Disability.  He calls them his “Dream Team for Disability Services.” 

“They faced every obstacle with undaunted determination,” Pete said in nominating them for the award.  “Thanks to their tireless efforts, I’m now able to use a computer almost as well as an able-bodied person.”

“Assistive technology has changed my life immeasurably.  Now I have all this freedom,” he added.  “When you get back to being able to do so many things, it’s exhilarating!”

To read more about Pete's story and the AT products that he and Eric used, click the following link: http://ma.easterseals.com/site/PageServer?pagename=MADR_attips.

You can read more about Pete's video contest victory in the article entitled "The Incredible True Life Adventure..." in the Mass Rehab Consumer's Voice Newsletter:

The services Pete received were made possible through a partnership between Easter Seals and the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission.

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