Hands-on technology

Centenary student Jessica Mistrey learns how to use switches to help a nonverbal student communicate.

Centenary College in Hackettstown, NJ, is known for its innovative approach to teaching special education methods—including the use of assistive technologies—to tomorrow’s teachers. Centenary, in fact, was one of the first colleges with education programs in New Jersey to provide a dual certification program for general education and special education students.

The Matheny School integrates technology into every program it has, and Sean Murphy, Matheny’s principal, is on the advisory board of Centenary’s Education Department. So, because of the close relationship between the two schools, Centenary education students often visit Matheny to learn about the latest developments in assistive technology and to get some hands-on experience.

Improving computer skills

Computer access is a vital tool in helping improve the quality of life for Matheny students and patients.

Matheny has received a Quality of Life grant of $7,431 from the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation in the Assistive Technology Initiative category. The grant will enable Matheny to acquire eye tracking equipment and scanning software “for kids that can’t use their hands to operate a computer but have good visual skills,” says Christine Mayercik, senior speech-language pathologist. “We’re hoping this will be a way to motivate them.”

At Matheny, technology is at the forefront of efforts to broaden our patients’ and students’ ability to live as normal a life as possible. Speech-language pathologists continually explore various ways to accomplish this.

The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation regularly awards grants to non-profit organizations that provide services to individuals with paralysis. Quality of Life grants are awarded to programs or projects that improve these individuals’ daily lives. Joseph Canose, a senior vice president at the Foundation, said the competition for funds this year was “extremely fierce.”