Stacy Ellingen

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Stacy’s Journal: New Year, New Opportunities

By: Stacy Ellingen
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Happy New Year!  Many people think of January as a time to get a fresh start.  People often take time to reflect on the past year and think about the year ahead.  Some make specific resolutions while others just wish for a better year.  Many people my age wish for things like a marriage proposal, a wedding, more children, or to move into a new house.  Over the holidays, I got a chance to see many family members and friends.  As I listened to them talk about the upcoming year with excitement in their voice, I couldn’t help but think about my life really is. 

While in the back of my mind, I’ll always wish for those “normal” things, as New Years rolled around this year, I thought about what I have to look forward to.  At the top of my list is getting a new computer setup and a new phone. 

Since mid-summer, I’ve been in the process of getting a new computer.  My current computer is now over six years old and on its last legs.  I originally began researching new computers a few years ago, but I discovered my adaptive keyboard wouldn’t work with updated operating systems.  I had been checking the company’s website periodically to see if there was updated software for the keyboard.   In July or August, I realized that the company had discontinued the keyboard.  It was then I knew I needed some help.   After contacting several different people trying to inquire about how to get funding for an assistive technology assessment (AT) done, I ended up reopening my Department of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) case and using “post-employment services” to get an AT assessment done.  After my case was opened, I had to pick a vendor to do the assessment.  Due to a lack of communication, this ended up being a long drawn out process.

I chose to go through my regional Independent Living Center (ILC) to do the assessment.  The assessment was finally scheduled in mid-December.  The specialist asked me a bunch of questions about my history and abilities via email beforehand, so, when he came to my apartment to meet with me, he already had some ideas.  My biggest issue was that I need mouse functions that are built into an enlarged keyboard.  Due to spasticity from Cerebral Palsy, I’m unable to use a regular mouse.  I control the mouse using buttons on my keyboard.  He brought some adaptive equipment for me to try and he did some research afterward; however, ultimately, we discovered the best option for me would be to get a new computer with the same operating system I currently have (and not get the updated system) and buy a new adapted keyboard just like the one I have (luckily other companies still sell the discontinued keyboard).   There isn’t any other enlarged keyboard on the market that has mouse functions built in.  While, admittedly, I’m pretty disappointed that I have to get an outdated system because technology hasn’t advanced enough, I’m thankful that I’m able to at least get a “new” computer.  The AT specialist also recommended some additional software programs that will save me a lot of time.  I’m waiting for him to finish up his report and send it to DVR.   Then, we can determine what the next steps are and hopefully, get it all ordered!

Additionally, I’ve been looking at getting a new cell phone.  My current phone is about a year and a half old.  Depending how old you are, that’s either considered pretty new or pretty old.  The reason I want a new phone is because I discovered I can access a phone with a bigger screen easier.  Given my limited fine motor ability, many people are amazed how well I’m able to use a touch screen cell phone.  I’ve come to depend on my cell for much more than calling and texting.  I use it to communicate with others most of the time.  As I’ve mentioned in previous entries, I have an iPad for a communication device, but, because I can’t pull up to any tables when it’s mounted on my chair, I rarely use it for day to day communication.  I’ve found that I can type a message on my phone (which is conveniently mounted on my chair) and have people read it.  I’m also able go on the Internet and do emails on my phone.  It has really become a lifeline for me.  Having a phone with a larger screen will just make my life easier.

So, while getting a new computer and phone probably isn’t a big deal to most people, it is to me.  It’s something I look forward to this year.   It’s something that excites me because both of these things are things that I spend most of my time on. I’m sure, like every other year, this year will be filled with ups and downs, but that’s a part of life.  We just have to make the best of it!

***The views expressed here are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of InControl Wisconsin, the Network or any of our sponsors.


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