"[Easter Seals Assistive Technology] enables me to show the world what I can do and allows me to live the life I want"
From her first day in an Easter Seals swim class as a 10-year-old, to the day she received her Ph.D. in economics from MIT, Allison Thompkins has had Easter Seals at her side – with technology, expertise and encouragement that helped her to succeed.
Allison uses a wheelchair and faces challenges with speaking and typing, due to cerebral palsy. But this intelligent young woman with the engaging smile was raised to believe she could do anything she set her mind to. Easter Seals has supported that belief.
As a teenager working at Easter Seals camp, Allison learned the importance that technology and leadership training play in the workplace. She began to see who she wanted to be and how she wanted to function as an adult, and her future career in labor economics took shape.
When Allison was planning for college, an Easter Seals assistive technology specialist provided her with voice-recognition and word-prediction software. With the technology she not only succeeded, she excelled – graduating as a Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laudefrom Scripps College in California.
Her long list of accomplishments since then includes work as a disability policy intern for Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and an economic consultant on disability policy issues for the World Bank.
Today Allison, 33, is employed fulltime with Mathematica Policy Research in Cambridge, where she works on teams to estimate the impact of various public policies, drafts reports analyzing the impact and presents the findings to clients.
She uses Eyegaze technology on the job, which enables her to control her computer by tracking her eye movements over an on-screen keyboard. The system, purchased and set up with Easter Seals guidance, lets her type without pain and in a more relaxed position.
Allison also recently joined the Easter Seals board of directors. She is grateful for the role technology and Easter Seals have played in her life.
“I am so thankful to Easter Seals and its services,” she said. “Easter Seals has always been there for me.”
“Assistive technology can literally open doors,” she added. “It enables me to show the world what I can do and allows me to live the life I want.”