Garden City students earn accolades for use of assistive technology

2/16/2013

By RACHAEL GRAY

By RACHAEL GRAY

rgray@gctelegram.com

Some people don’t embrace technology.

For others, it’s a way of life.

That’s the way it is for Patrick Twiss, 18, a graduate of Garden City

High School, and Darby Reimer, 6, a student at Florence Wilson

Elementary School.

In December, the two were recognized in Wichita as recipients of the Kansas Infinitec Coalition technology awards.

They were two of eight students across the state to receive the awards.

Karen Johnson, USD 457 director of special education, said the purpose of the coalition is to support assistive technology.

“It also gives us a way to do online training,” she said.

Assistive technology is key to Twiss and Reimer.

Assistive technology is any item, piece of equipment or product system

that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional

capabilities of the student, according to an Infinitec pamphlet.

Twiss has cerebral palsy. Reimer is blind.

Reimer uses a braille writer to read and type things in braille. She

also uses an electronic notetaker, tactile maps, reads braille library

books and uses an abacus for math, Johnson said.

Twiss used an iPad a lot in the classroom, Johnson said.

The students were nominated by their districts. This was the first time USD 457 had nominated students, Johnson said.

Twiss and Reimer also were honored at last week’s USD 457 Board of Education Meeting.

Johnson said it was nice to be honored at the state level.

“It was nice for us to be represented. They use a lot of technology to

give them access to curriculum. It helps them continue their learning,”

she said.

It also helps them learn and be passionate about technology.

Twiss plans to continue his education in web page design.

“Working with computers is important to him. And now it’s a life goal,” she said.

Johnson said the two work hard.

“They have to work harder than the average student to be able to do what they’ve done,” she said.

Since 1998 the Infinitec Coalition has served more than 400 school

districts reaching 1,600 schools. The Kansas Department of Education,

173 school districts, Infinitec representatives and staff of the

University of Kansas have developed the Kansas Infinitec Coalition. The

coalition serves more than 219,000 students throughout the state of

Kansas, according to the Infinitec pamphlet.

Infinitec means infinite potential through technology. The program

originated in Illinois as a collaboration between school districts and

United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Chicago.

The coalition is committed to sharing resources to develop state-of-the

art assistive technology in information, training and equipment

services, the pamphlet said.

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