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Pete's latest magazine article acknowledged the 25th anniversary of the Easter Seals Massachusetts Assistive Technology Program and explained why this program has been so successful in improving the lives of people with disabilities. Please click here to read the article. Closing the Gap.

The other trainers Pete had worked with in the past kept checking the clock while they were with him, and they emphasized what he couldn’t do because of his disability.Easter Seals Assistive Technology Specialist Eric Oddleifson was different.

Eric never looked at the clock,” Pete said.  “He just said, ‘What would you like to do next?’  I didn’t think there were trainers out there like Eric.

Pete was in his final semester in college more than 20 years ago when he became permanently disabled.  Now, this Canton resident has many of the limitations of a quadriplegic and is bedridden.

Easter Seals was called in to give Pete a hands-free way to control his computer and other devices he uses in his daily life.

Pete had been using Dragon Naturally Speaking software to dictate to his computer.  Eric added other software and equipment that enable Pete to restart his computer when it freezes up.  He also customized computer shortcuts to compensate for Pete’s physical limitations.

Now, Pete uses technology to control his hospital bed, lights, TV, computer monitor and even the drapery opener.  Pete recalled one night just after he had received the unit and his parents had gone out to dinner.  For the first time, he was able to turn on the TV without help and watch a Red Sox game.

Yeah, it’s just a ball game, but those little things add up in life,” Pete said.

His new computer capabilities meant new freedom. Pete buys and sells items, is completing his college degree and does work for his family restaurant business – all online.He also is an individual consumer consultant for the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission and outreach coordinator for the Massachusetts Assistive Technology School Share program.

His video, “The Incredible True Life Adventure . . . .” won first prize in a nationwide YouTube contest conducted by the Assistive Technology Industry Association. Because he was unable to attend the awards ceremony, Pete asked that the cost of the trip and the admission fee to the conference be donated to a staff member at Easter Seals Massachusetts.

The goal of this articulate, intelligent man is to educate people about assistive technology.  “None of this would have happened without the outstanding training I received from Eric,” Pete said. “Everyone at Easter Seals has been so responsive."

"Assistive technology has changed my life immeasurably,” he added.  “Now I have all this freedom.  When you get back to being able to do so many things, it’s exhilarating!

The services Pete received were made possible through a partnership between Easter Seals and the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission.

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