Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A PALS Perspective: How My Assistive Technology Changed My Life

My name is Gregory Telthorster and I am a person living with ALS. Most of my adult life I had been a teacher of art and technology at a local middle school. I also had been a practicing artist, oil painting being my medium. As my disease progressed I lost the use of all of my extremities and with it the ability to do anything utilizing my fine motor skills (painting, drawing, typing, etc.). As my ability to manipulate a mouse became a greater struggle, I knew I had to find some assistive technology that would allow me to use my computer as both a communication tool and graphic tool. After visiting the Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Lending Library (Temple University), where I tried an assortment of assistive equipment, I found a tool that fit my needs perfectly. It is called a Jouse2 (http://www.jouse.com/). The Jouse2 is an advanced joystick-operated USB mouse that is controlled with your mouth. Just move the joystick with your mouth, cheek, chin or tongue to shift the mouse cursor wherever you want. You can perform right-click, left-click and double-click actions with the sip and puff switches built into the Jouse2.

With the Jouse2 I am able to use my computer "hands-free". In combination with voice recognition software (Nuance Dragon Dictate) the Jouse2 gives me the freedom to use many software programs with precision. I have created greeting cards, coffee-table art books, videos, multiple graphic designs and logos, multimedia presentations and edited photographs with similar ease as I had done when I had full utilization of my hands.

Our daughter, Jessica, was married this past summer. With the help of my assistive technology device, I was able to help with the design of the wedding program and invitations. For the rehearsal dinner, using my Jouse2, I put together a movie complete with scanned in photos, digital photos, old VHS family movies, music and voiceovers. Using software programs like Adobe Photoshop I was able to create our family holiday greeting card. Using book-publishing software I gathered digital images of my art to create a coffee table sized book of my artwork. For this year‟s Super Bowl I created a T-shirt logo that was professionally printed. The joy that this adaptive equipment has brought me is immeasurable! It continues to allow me to be communicative, creative and independent.


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