"Despite my significant physical challenges, the people at Easterseals were able to redesign my home office with assistive technology and find a part-time telecommuting job that was a good fit for me. For the first time in six years, I am earning a paycheck and part of a team again."
When Chris Richards was injured, he was left more than just chronic hip and back pain, he was left with a disability that stood in the way of his opportunity to continue working.
In response to his new situation, Chris designed a sit/stand station in his home office, which he found to be better than just sitting, but not perfect. Then, while undergoing vocational rehabilitation services with the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commision (MRC), he learned about the Assistive Technology Program here at Easter Seals MA.
Easterseals, eager to help, wasted no time in scheduling a visit to Chris' home where they were able to evaluate and help design a new home office. According to Chris "They [Easterseals MA] were very thorough and spent several hours asking me questions about my physical challenges and limitations and my work goals. They also installed all equipment and spent time training me on proper use." By taking the time to really understand Chris's situation, Easter Seals staff were able to provide him with the solutions and devices that would best suit his needs and help him achieve his goals, because Assistive Technology isn't a one size fits all kind of program. "I really loved the fact that they come to my home to evaluate my needs in the actual space I would be working in."
Easterseals provided Chris with a small couch, monitor, wireless monitor adapter, and monitor stand that allows him to work in a supine position. Then to further facilitate working in a supine position, Easterseals also provided Dragon Naturally Speaking Speech Recognition software. Chris believes that the supine workstation has improved his ability to work on his computer, which provides him with more opportunities to live, learn, work and play. Without Easterseal's help, Chris said he would never have thought to try the supine position-this is why Easterseals AT staff are considered the leading experts in the field. Assistive technology is so much more than the mere mechanics of the technology, it’s about knowing what technology works best in specific contexts and creating a sustainable plan that can be reliably implemented in the actual context of the service (homes, schools, work, etc).
After receiving services and with the help of his new equipment, Chris was able to secure a part-time, work-at-home job. Over the next year, he hopes to become more efficient at the speech recognition software, so that he can use it for creative writing. "
"Elizabeth Rafferty and Dianne Leary of MRC and Kevin Berner of Easter Seals were exceptional in their support throughout the process: intake, administration, troubleshooting, mock interviewing, job developing, office set-up, etc. And not only did they help me find a job, but they helped me find a job in which I help other people with disabilities find employment, something now very near and dear to my heart. I am extremely grateful to have worked with them through this very difficult time in my life. For the first time in six years, I am earning a paycheck and part of a team again."