November 1, 2017
Assistive Technology Opens Internet to Man with Quadriplegia
by Jess Bolen
In this day and age, it’s easy to take technology for granted. For people with some disabilities, however, assistive technology can mean the difference between being able to access a computer or not. Consider the ordinary computer mouse; it can be purchased for $30. For someone unable to use a handheld mouse, a mouth-controlled mouse can be substituted. The price tag on this: $1400. For most, that price point puts computer accessibility out of reach.
Tony Wilkins hasn’t been able to use a computer since he became a person with quadriplegia many years ago. It didn’t stop him from searching for a way to make the computer accessible to him.
When speaking about the Jouse 3, Tony says “I came across a video on YouTube of this guy who was a quadriplegic and he had this mouth-controlled joystick-operated USB mouse. When I saw the video it really inspired me. I knew I would be able to access a computer again. I thought ‘Wow. That would be awesome.’”
However, the price point on this particular piece of assistive technology kept it out of reach.
A grant from the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation through an NCIL grant, allowed The Independence Center to purchase assistive devices for people with Spinal Cord Injuries.
As a member of the Spinal Cord Injury group at The Independence Center, Tony Wilkins was approached by Tim Ashley, Spinal Cord Injury Group facilitator. Wilkins qualified for grant monies and the question was which piece of assistive technology would be most suitable and helpful.
“The Jouse 3 was an obvious choice for him,” Ashley states. The Jouse 3 is a mouth-controlled, joystick operated USB mouse.
In one moment, Wilkins was shut out of all forms of computer communication and information. In the next moment, as if a lock had been opened, he was in—thanks to the Jouse 3 and the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation.
“It was so easy. Literally plug and play. As soon as we got it set up I started moving the mouth stick and the cursor started to move. It was really exciting,” Wilkins says. “I found an on-screen keyboard that I could use with the mouse. That’s when the internet opened up to me and I could go anywhere.”
To learn more about The IC’s support groups and services, call 719-471-8181 or visit www.theindependencecenter.org