In 2002 at age 48, Elaine Bell had a stroke that left her with little use of her right hand and difficulty speaking.
Her life turned upside down, but Elaine is a very determined woman with a positive attitude. With help from Easter Seals, she is now succeeding at work and living independently.
When Elaine began her new job as a cashier at Stop & Shop in Shrewsbury, however, she faced some major obstacles. She couldn’t answer customers’ questions or let them know when she wanted to get a manager, among other things. The resulting frustration just made things worse for Elaine.
Easter Seals technology specialists worked with Elaine at her home in Worcester and on the job. After trying out various ways to communicate, it was evident that her needs would be best met by an iPod touch with external speakers and the Proloquo2Go app, which speaks various phrases.
Modifications were made to suit Elaine’s abilities, and Easter Seals Augmentative and Alternative Communication Specialist Jamie Mobed programmed several important phrases that Elaine could use at work, such as, “Hi! Welcome to Stop & Shop,” “Do you want cash back?” and “Give me a second. I’ll get my manager.”
The technology helped make Elaine a first-rate employee. It also opened new doors to independence in her personal life. Now she is able to communicate with her daughter and people she meets in her daily life. And she can go out to restaurants and order food and a glass of wine without help.
With additional phrases, Elaine even traveled by herself to California not long ago to meet up with a tour group. She used her iPod touch to ask for help at the airport, take pictures, and create a story about her trip that she shared with family and friends.
When asked how she likes her new Assistive Technology, Elaine’s response is always positive. “Great!” she says. “Love it!”
The Easter Seals services Elaine received were made possible by a partnership with the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission.