Joey DiRocco, 9, is a student in the Groton Dunstable School District. He was born with Cortical Visual Impairment, congenital nystagmus, and a septo optic dysplasia, which make it difficult for him to see without his glasses. Having this visual impairment made it difficult for him to keep up with other students in class due to difficulty seeing the board and reading. Eventually, Joey’s teacher connected him to Kristi Voelkerding, an Assistive Technology Specialist at ESMA, who worked with him to find solutions to improve his ability to participate in class. After assessing his situation, Kristi taught him how to use Assistive Technology devices including an iPad, text-to-speech software, and a scope to increase his independence in learning.
Ariana Manganaro, Joey’s Special Education teacher, now collaborates with Kristi on a continual basis to explore new ideas for how he can use his assistive technology and to ensure he has the resources he needs for success in the classroom.
Joey's demonstrated success in gaining independence in his education using assistive technology made him an ideal recipient for ESMA’s 2021 Pioneer Award, given annually to a boy or girl with disabilities in Massachusetts who demonstrates the pioneering spirit of former Easterseals Massachusetts (ESMA) President Richard A. LaPierre. Joey was presented the award by ESMA President & CEO, Paul Medeiros in June. With assistive technology on his side, the future of Joey's education is looking bright.
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