Kim was diagnosed with Cauda Equina Syndrome in 1996. This caused lower body paralysis and due to other illnesses throughout the years, she lost vision in one of her eyes, has hearing loss, and COPD. All of this prevented her from working as a nurse and had an impact on her daily life as a mother. It also led her to an inactive life.
Kim was referred to Easterseals Massachusetts through the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) Vocational Rehabilitation Division, which provides free assistive technology (AT) equipment and training to individuals who are pursuing employment, in 2020. The MRC program’s services enable individuals to gain or maintain employment by using computer technology and voice-output communication aids. Louise, an ESMA Assistive Technology Specialist, met with Kim to assess her knowledge of technology and to put a plan in place to reach her goals. Working with Louise, Kim shared, “I could feel right away that Louise was interested in how I was doing. She treated me with respect and dignity, and I felt valued because she listened to me.”
Through training, Kim learned the fundamentals of operating a computer and using Microsoft Word to create a document. She learned how to use Dragon dictation software and how to enlarge fonts and the pointer on her computer, which reduced her eye strain. To practice her skills using these new tools with the guidance of ESMA’s training support, Kim started journaling and writing letters to her grandchildren.
Moreover, Kim improved her skills using calendar reminders and online communication tools like Teams and Zoom so that she could participate in appointments from her home. Learning new skills has opened a whole new world for Kim. “I want to continue to learn, to broaden my tech skills, to be a good volunteer, and have a part-time job,” she said.
Having “graduated” from AT support in 2022, Kim is now employed part-time mentoring low-income and underprivileged women and actively volunteers as a member of the ESMA Western Massachusetts Regional Board. She is committed to supporting our mission and is thankful for the opportunity to do so remotely. With all her endeavors, Kim continues to grow her experience with technology and further increase her level of independence with smart home technology and an iPad.
Today, Kim feels she is living a more fulfilling life, having more control over her schedule, and participating in events that she missed out on for years.
After receiving services, Kim said, “With Louise’s and Easterseals’ help, I have become more self-confident and self-assured which helps me and those I have contact with, to have richer lives.”