Danny is a young father who suffered a severe traumatic brain injury in a workplace accident. His vision is severely impaired and he experiences problems generating complete sentences when he speaks or writes. Danny lives away from his family in a residential facility. He wanted to use email to make plans for his weekend visits to his fiance and son's home, and his case manager wanted Danny to stay in touch when he made those visits. Part of Dannyís rehabilitation plan involved helping his son read and doing other activities when he visited on the weekends. Danny also wanted to be able to explore the Internet for fun.
Our solution was the PACK. Large icons on the PACK desktop made it easy for Danny to navigate to his email, games, or Internet sites. Our Helpdesk assisted Danny's care provider in designing email templates to plan weekend activities with his fiance and to report to his case manager about his activities with his son. Danny's care provider found our Helper website easy to use. We configured his Coglink email so that it used large high-contrast font that Danny could easily read, and we included the optional "speak" feature so Danny could hear his incoming messages and proofread the messages he created using an enlarged keyboard. We added links that Danny could use to listen to stories with his son and to watch videos about his favorite sports team, the Oakland Raiders. Danny's therapist and care providers receive monthly PACK data reports that document his progress. The reports protect Dannyís confidentiality by not tracking the content of his email messages. Each report shows weekly usage statistics and compares use across months. These data have helped Danny's therapist document the written language gains he has made with CogLink.
Betsy is a young woman with autism who enjoys beautiful marbles and likes to embroider. She lives with her mother and her aunt, but her brother and sister live some distance away. Staying connected to her family is especially important to Betsy now, because recently both of her grandparents passed away. Betsy wants to use her motherís computer when she is at home as well as public computer terminals at the local Assistive Technology Center where the staff know her.
Our solution was the PACK. Betsy quickly mastered the simple steps needed to plug in her PACK and navigate through the adapted desktop to her CogLink email. The PACK worked just the same whether she used one of the Assistive Technology Centerís computers or her motherís computer at home. She had a little trouble learning to use the computer's mouse, but quickly mastered double clicking and other mouse control skills when she used the training programs included on the PACK. Betsy found it easiest to send and receive email when photos of her partners were included on her email buddy list. Because autism makes it difficult for Betsy to think of questions she wants to ask others, our Helpdesk staff helped her aunt create an email template she could use to formulate questions, tell about her own experiences, and share her feelings. Currently, Betsy is trying out some websites that show marble collections, and a friend who shares her interest in embroidery will help locate other fun websites that Betsy will enjoy. We will update Betsyís report as she continues to explore ways that the PACK can enrich her leisure experiences and enhance her social skills.
PACK CASE STUDY
As part of our iShare case study, we ran into the problem with a classroom of shared computers. It was impractical to install the personal email tool for each student on every computer they might use. There was also the problem of the school's security protocol, which wiped all new applications from the computers every night. Our solution was to give each student their own PACK drive with their personalized iShare tool on it. A student could find a free computer and plug in. No installation of software is necessary; all applications run from the PACK drive. One other benefit to this solution is the ability for the student to take their personalized system home with them for use on the family computer. Again, no installation is necessary and there is no problem moving from Windows to Mac (and vice versa).