Entry into the AT field:
I first started thinking about
technology to help people with disabilities in OT School which started in Sept,
How I got into the
As an occupational therapist, I
have been interested in devices that either allow a person to participate in a
given activity or make that participation easier or better in some way
throughout my career.
Important event(s) that influenced
my early decision to get into the assistive technology field
During an internship, I met Ruth Dickie at the
Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine in New York City. Her job seemed amazing
to me. I learned Morse Code for single switch access during that
Why I chose the AT
I learned about OT in high
school and the appeal of combining science, health, and arts interested me.
This combination still appeals to me. I see assistive technology as an
compilation of that.
My inspiration and
I feel so lucky to have had
the opportunity to work with and learn from so many people. I first worked in
the Rehabilitation Engineering Center at National Rehab Hospital with Sam
McFarland and then with Jan Galvin. These experiences were wonderful and
exposed me to the many ways we use technology. I would also have to say that
taking the seating certification course given by Elaine Trefler was a turning
point in that it made me realize I did have expertise and could make a
difference in peoples lives. Through RESNA, I met and began working with
then working with Peter Axelson on the wheelchair standards committee. Seeing
the commitment of the people working to develop standards was inspiring and
realizing that I had input into standards for innovative testing and
development of safe and useful technologies is really amazing to me. I value
what I have learned from these and so many other people in the field and I
value the long-lasting friendships that Ive forged because of this
Why the field is important to me
and the central focus of my work
think helping someone to be more independent or to do something they
didnt think they could do is an amazing experience. Now I enjoy
connecting with students who think the creativity of providing services and
technological devices is exciting. I also think that our interdisciplinary
nature makes our work so much more interesting and effective.
My memorable successes and
greatest contributions to the field
had the opportunity to work with a young woman with a spinal cord injury a
long, long time ago. She knew what she wanted to be able to do and she was
willing to try some interesting solutions. I love that we still
keep in touch with each other.
that my teaching of occupational therapy and other students is important
because I include interdisciplinary approaches and reinforce the importance of
finding people who can help when you think there is no solution.
My most memorable
There are too many to admit
to. Ive tried to learn from mistakes, but must admit that Ive made
the same mistake more than once. I have trouble accepting mistakes and try to
fix them by focusing on finding working solutions for the problem.
Significant changes and advances
in the field since I first entered it
I think the biggest change is the shift to using
everyday technologies rather than specialized devices. It opens up so many
options for people who have specific
I think the shift from computers
being something only in labs to being everywhere is the biggest change in the
field. It means that there is so much more opportunity for so many more people
to have access to what they need or want.
On the future of rehabilitation
engineering and assistive technology
think there will always be the need for specialized technology because no
matter who a device is designed for, there will people who cannot use it and
would like to. I hope that, as our everyday technology continues to develop,
more and more people with specialized needs will be able to use commercial
devices. I hope the devices will have enough inherent flexibility to work for a
wider variety of people.
My role within RESNA and what it
gave back to me
RESNA activities has been integral to shaping my career. Ive been on a
number of committees and boards in RESNA. Each time I committed to a group
within RESNA I appreciated the opportunity to meet new people and to learn
about a new topic. I am so thankful for all of the volunteer work that so many
people have done as part of RESNA and hope that others with whom I worked also
felt good about the work they did.
On the future of RESNA
I hope that RESNA continues to be a home for
people from various careers and backgrounds to find people with like interests
to explore new ideas and to learn from each other.
My suggestions for those just
entering the field
I would encourage
people to jump in and get involved. If someone offers an opportunity, try it.
Open yourself to new experiences and follow through as a dynamic and reliable