March 27, 2017 by Heather Koren
We all wanted one. That elusive candy bar with a Golden Ticket because as a child we daydreamed about how it would change our lives. It certainly changed the lives of the kids in the beloved movie, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. For Augustus, Violet, Veruca, and Mike, the ticket didn’t provide a good outcome because of the decisions they made. But for Charlie, it opened up a whole new world for him and his family.
Golden Ticket: Right Technology, Big Change
Technology has made such a huge change in our everyday lives. For people with disabilities, technology often times makes everyday life possible. Without some type of technology, a child who is nonverbal is limited in his ability to successfully communicate. A middle schooler with dyslexia experiencing increased demands of reading and writing, knowing that high school will just be even more demanding without the help of technology.
Each year, when the IEP team meets to discuss the strengths, needs, and goals of each student, they must consider assistive technology (AT). This can be as simple as a 5 minute conversation agreeing that AT is not needed to a referral for a full AT evaluation.
Here at Westminster Technologies, Inc. we want your IEP team to be successful and we want each of your students to be provided with the best possible opportunity to succeed. That’s why we work with schools to provide both AT evaluation services and train-the-trainer sessions.
When an evaluation is requested, we work with the district staff to assist in this crucial process of making the right decisions for each student and their individual AT needs. Once the evaluation is completed and the report is delivered, we continue to provide support to the IEP team. We want to make sure the right steps are taken to ensure the best technology fit has been found for each student. Train-the-trainer sessions include hands-on opportunities and six months of continued mentoring to develop confident and successful AT evaluators.
Why? Because the right assistive technology provides that Golden Ticket, opening up a whole new world of possibilities.
Heather Koren believes that all individuals, no matter their abilities can accomplish goals and dreams with the right tools. She began her career as a speech-language pathology assistant for individuals with severe and profound disabilities. Later she worked for United Cerebral Palsy as an AT Specialist where she developed communication and vocational training programs. A move to North Carolina provided the opportunity to teach both undergraduate and graduate level assistive technology classes in the Special Education Department at East Carolina University. Heather holds a master’s degree in Rehabilitation Science and Technology from University of Pittsburgh.