TECH-NJ 2000

Assistive Technology for People with Disabilities

Volume 11, Number 1



Here at The College of New Jersey, our teacher education programs are committed to preparing professionals who will represent the very best practitioners in their fields. The goal of the School of Education's Conceptual Framework for the Creation of Exemplary Professionals is to produce graduates who demonstrate: a commitment to all children, including those from diverse cultures and those with disabilities, excellence in practice; up-to-date knowledge of their discipline; successful collaborations with parents and colleagues; and leadership and advocacy. As we work toward these ideals, we can be guided by the commitment and accomplishments of four local special educators who set new standards for "exemplary professionals."

They were honored in 1999 by the Center for Enabling Technology (CET) for their innovative uses of Computers and Educational Technology with children who have disabilities. Patricia Mervine, an alumna of The College of New Jersey, serves over 100 children a year through the Bucks County Intermediate Unit in Langhorne, Pennsylvania. As a speech/language specialist she works with parents, teachers, and physical and occupational therapists to select, design, and set up augmentative communication systems for children who cannot speak. She has written books and software programs to assist children with communication (all published by Mayer-Johnson), and she is one of the most sought-after workshop presenters in our region.

Linda Peroff is head of the Speech and Language Services Department for the Horizon School/Cerebral Palsy of North Jersey in East Orange, New Jersey. Working with children who have both physical and cognitive disabilities, she has recognized their potential and provided numerous opportunities for them to learn to read, write, communicate, and develop life skills. One very exciting activity she initiated was a school store which is operated by students using a computer, custom overlays on IntelliKeys, and picture icons for product labeling. Students both shop in the store and serve as sales clerks and stock clerks.

Carol Sherman is the computer teacher at the Westlake School in Mountainside where most of the students also have both physical and cognitive disabilities. She has integrated assistive technology throughout the school. In the vocational program, for example, the students run the "Rocket Corporation" for which they design, produce and sell customized buttons, name plaques, and stationary. With various access methods and custom set-ups designed by Carol, students use ClarisWorks spreadsheet and database programs for orders, billing, payroll and marketing. They use the ClarisWorks drawing program to design and print the buttons, and they access clip art from the internet when they need special graphics. They are learning practical life skills as a direct result of Carol's technology set-ups.

Cathy Tamburello is director of assistive technology for the Bergen County Special Services School District. Cathy was recognized for her leadership in creating custom scanning arrays for single switch users and custom overlays for IntelliKeys users, thereby providing them with access to typical classroom activities such as completing worksheets and writing papers with Microsoft Word. These custom set-ups are enabling many students with severe disabilities to be included in regular classrooms and to be active participants in classroom routines. Cathy has assumed a major leadership role in New Jersey and is program chairperson of the upcoming 1st Tri-State Conference on Assistive Technology and Augmentative Communication being held on March 14th and 15th at William Paterson University.

These four remarkable professionals stand as models for all teachers and other school personnel. Their exemplary uses of assistive technology have benefited hundreds of children and young adults with disabilities. TECH-NJ salutes them!

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