Last week we started our incredible story about "Lucy and her Amazing iPad” with an interview with Lucy about how she uses improvements in technology to complete school work, play educational games, and take selfies! Today we're talking with Lucy's mom Cherisse about her experience and how she thinks this technology has helped Lucy.
Permobil Interviewer: For parents that are a little timid of technology, what helped you to be able to see the benefit of Lucy learning to access her iPad through her wheelchair?
Cherisse: Any opportunity there is to give Lucy any type of independence, I am all over it. She wants the independence, and I want her to have it! I am in no way an expert to technology, but Lucy’s desire and need for independence pushes me to figure it out. Lucy loves her iPad more than any of her other devices. She can play on it lying in her bed, using a stylus to reach the screen. Her arm gets worn out after a while, and I don’t love the positioning she needs to be in to see and reach the screen. The position needs to be just right so she can reach most parts of the iPad screen. I love that she can now use her iPad while sitting in her chair and control it with her joystick.
You have learned a lot by trial and error, what would you say is a good starting point for a person wanting to using some of this advancing technology?
Cherisse: If I can do it, anyone can do it! With awesome reps at Permobil and information online, it isn’t as hard as it seems. I would say that the iPad is very user-friendly and the step-by-step directions are easy to follow. Once Lucy gains access, she learns the ins and outs so quickly then I rely on her to help me troubleshoot and figure things out.
What resources did you find helpful when first experimenting with using the built-in Bluetooth technology on Lucy’s Permobil power wheelchair?
Cherisse: Some of the resources that were most helpful were our local Permobil rep, Melissa and the online instructions and videos she sent to me. I have been looking for years to have this type of access on the iPad for Lucy, and it was frustrating to look and look and not find anything that worked so simply and conveniently. We are thrilled to have the mouse emulator on the iPad now!
I know Lucy can adapt to either using traditional switch control or the mouse emulation now available, but do you see a change in her access method? Are there certain things she likes to do in switch control vs mouse? Does she like one vs the other? Does one seem easier than the other?
Cherisse: There is a significant change in Lucy’s access using the mouse emulation vs switch control. For Lucy and her needs, the mouse emulation works so well for her. I once timed how long it took her to just get into an app using switch control, and it took her 3 minutes. When she got into the app the options were very limited! With the mouse emulation, Lucy is able to open an app in seconds and is able to access all parts of the iPad. We are still figuring out quicker ways to swipe the screen or scroll, but she loves the independence and freedom she has within the iPad using the mouse emulation. Lucy no longer uses switch control because mouse emulation works so well for her.
What other benefits have you seen with Lucy being able to control her computer and iPad using her wheelchair drive control?
Cherisse: My favorite thing about Lucy using her joystick to access her devices is how simple it is. She is already sitting in her chair, using her joystick to drive, change positions etc, and it is the one control she is already very comfortable and efficient using. Lucy’s current set-up on her powerchair uses most of the real estate, so there isn’t a lot of extra room. We don’t need any additional equipment, and she can toggle between all of her modes with ease.
Does being more independent with these devices help Lucy with other things like tolerating being up in her wheelchair for longer periods of time or participating more in school activities?
Cherisse: The short answer is, yes! It absolutely give Lucy more independence. Lucy has many devices but she uses the iPad more than any other device. Lucy’s school has 1:1 iPad use and the access that the mouse emulation gives her using her joystick is really, really exciting. Lucy’s iPad has multiple uses and wherever we go or whatever we are doing she has the option of using her iPad. She doesn’t always like to have her laptop with her. When she gets bored or needs to access a website, her notes calendar, or color a picture she CAN and that is really really exciting. I love watching her go through her apps, organize them (she is super organized) and create her own shortcuts. She is very bright and once she has access to something, she figures it out very quickly.
And finally, how did you support Lucy in her decision to contact the CEO of Apple to advocate for her own needs?
Cherisse: I don’t feel like I really had a say in this. :) Lucy created the two-page powerpoint presentation (complete with a cute photo of her with a sombrero on), all on her own, without any prompt or suggestions from anyone else and upon completion she told me to “Send it to Apple!” I did just that. I posted it on my instagram account first but we have several friends who work at Apple and they suggested that I email it directly to Mr. Cook because his email address is public and he actually reads his emails. I knew it wouldn’t hurt to try. Her presentation was so thoughtful and heart-felt, I just had to send it in! Only a few days later, to my surprise, an employee in the Accessibility Department reached out to me and we went back and forth answering their questions and sharing information so they had a clear understanding of what Lucy’s needs were and how to make the iPad more accessible for her. I am sure we weren’t the first ones or the only ones to make that request, but I think that it was very empowering for Lucy to advocate for herself, receive a response, see an action, and then see an announcement of the update from Apple. I was so impressed with them and we are so grateful they listened because it is changing Lucy’s world for good!
Regional Clinical Education Manager
Jennith Bernstein received her masters in Physical Therapy at North Georgia College & State University and returned to complete her transitional DPT at University of Texas Medical Branch in 2014. While at Shepherd Center, Jennith, initiated a “Seating Champion” program to improve the inpatient and day program clinicians understanding of complex seating, pressure management and skin protection as well as research reviews, advanced programming and adjustments. She was also part of a center wide multidisciplinary focus group for reduction of hospital acquired skin breakdown. Jennith has served as a volunteer teacher at the Universidad Mariano Galvez in Guatemala, instructing spinal cord injury curriculum as well as seating and mobility. Jennith has presented at national conferences such as RESNA, ISS, and the APTA NEXT conference. Jennith has been a practicing PT for 12 years and spent the last 10 years at a model SCI center (Shepherd Center) in Atlanta, Georgia. Jennith joined Permobil as the Clinical Education Manager for the Central Region in 2016.