October 1990 Edition - Access Press

Page 1

Volume 1, Number 5


by Michael Sheehan

If D a v ~ d had employed sonal independence and asonly the g ~ f t sgranted him by sistlve technology had benature in his contest w ~ t h come as clear as that between

- xie$ depictthe effortsof those

whose odds could use some evening-indiviWs whose ordinary day-t-y b tioning has been shortcircuited by accident of eit h e b i d or c r c s , or andwltohaveac@edone more "dis*-abilities.

Learning Disabilities

wZ Finding Help Hidden Handicap.,-The child or adult with a learning disability may manifest no outward physical signs of this troubling disability. In truth, until approximately 20 years ago, the fact that some apparently bright individuals had significant difficulty when learning math, reading or spelling skills, was as mystifying to psychologists and educators as it was to the learner. Now, we know that these individuals are not unable to learn. Many have become accomplished in medicine, entertainment, athletics, engineering and business, art, music or mechanical arts. Many learning disabled adults have developed complex and marvelous strategies for coping with their inability to read, write or do math in a society which places enormous emphasis on these skills. They have mastered coping. Yet, because of a neurological difference, these individuals process language or math differently, find the development of these skills excruciatingly difficult and must be taught in with less traditional strategies. Nith specific teaching strategies, learning can take place. What is a learning disability? Learning disabilities in children has been defined by PL 94-142 but a comprehensivedefiniion relating to adults has yet to be devised. Likewise there is no definitive list of the qualities of an individual with such I disability. Some or all of the following may be chronically manifested in varying degrees of severity:

While David's adaptive technology overcame the. relative disability of size and strength, the finhings of the science of the 21st century are being applied to a significantly broader spectrum of need. Both illustrate creative response to the requirements of the circumstance at hand.

Relative Inloncy While the formal field of adaptive, or assistive, technology is in its dative infancv. its growth curve todav &Hes Gth description a& Difficulty with o r g a n h t i d d skills gravity. The reasons are Difficulty mastering language and math skills often demonstrated by unusual number of reversed both personal and pragmatpatterns, omissions, substitatbm. Spell@ is especially problematic. ic. For an accurate descripDifficulty with space and time concepts. tion of the personal motivaDifficulty with words-remembering them, pronouncing rhem (but not a speech problem). tion, one would need either It is suspected that learning disabilities are genetic in origin. A learning disability is not solely the result of educa& be, or love, a p s w v e leprivation, emotional difficulties or restricted meartal capabilities. beneficiary of assistive techChildren with suspected learning disabilities may be testad and served through individual school districts. Testing and nology. educational services are also available to adults who are enrolled in colleges or universities through the office for students on the pmgmatic side, HANDICAP cont. on p. 9 the relationship bemeen per-



per year. Even for those w b personal tendencies opted more for lending a helping foot than a hand, the message was clear; any degree of increased indepemdmee w apmd investment. em,whose ~~y disabled populab nudered an e s h a t ed 600,000, f o h e d a historical human services bent and got onthe independence/technology bandwagon early, In late 1985, Governor Perpich announced a 19member Issue Team on Technology for People with Disabilities, created to formally explore the potential. The report they ultimately issued was based on two key terms: DISABILITYany c o ~ o that n challenges the developmentor functioning of an individual, such as sensory,physical, mental or emotional impairments; term is used interchaugeably with "functional limitation". TECHNOLOGY-the physical sciences and the processes of their application, including those devices TECH cont. on p. 4

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Access Press

October 1990

handful of employees were creeps, who take advantage ofvulnerable peoplewhouse the system made some news story for a few days. Headlines are the name of the game for the daily newspapers - statistics are boring. The RTB reacted properly with indignation and promises to set up better methods of reporting and hiring. I think this is right, but I think the public was misled by the series of stories. The system delivers well over 100,000 rides every month, sometimes as many as 140,000. This is not

lem with such emotional ideas are for improving our consequences could damage quality of life. After reading it for all of us. I think Mr. his 'position paper' (printed Ehrlichmann and his staff in last month's issue), I becan cope with the problem lieve he has listened and actwithout new legislation, and ed on what people have told urge all concerned to let him and he will continue to * W s o . SenatorBoschwitz, on them do their jobs. the other hand, has been running commercials portray**** After studying the candi- ing himself as the friend of dates for the U.S. Senate the farmer, people on Social seat, I have decided to give Security and hungry school my support to Paul Well- children. While the pictures stone. I have had the oppor- he's showing us on TV make tunity to meet and discuss the him look like everyone is doissues with Mr. Wellstone a ing well, the fact is our counnumber of times. Each time try is in terrible trouble from I have come away feeling the horrendous deficit, the 4~

with no end in sight. Mr. Boschwitz never talks about these issues in his commercials. They are not warm, comfortable and full of kindly smiles. We need someone willing to face the issues, someone willing to go to Washington D.C. and work on them rather than raising money for the next election. I am urging everyone to get out and vote November 6th. I have heard many people say 'it won't matter if I vote or not. Things just will stay the same'. It is not true! Our quality of life is at stake. We still have many things to

WILLIE %ELDER Willie Fdderg;evtlopeda safety lamp for wheelchairs. wheelchair. Willie's design utilizes a 4.5 volt lamp; how-




If You Accept the Refrain, VA & Medicare approved For A Test Drive, Call

If You Want to Be Noted, Make Sure You've Voted! 'COMPLETE REMODELINO SERVICE



training manuals and brochures and a sales force. Gary met the goals of the focus group and developed a series of electronic magnification devices that will read prescriptions, small directions, thermometers, books, magazines and maps. For more information, please contact Gary at 560-8080. The Governor's Advisory Council would also like to recognize fellow council member David Schwartzkopf who was given the Disabled American of the Year Award by the President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities. David, who was presented with the award by President Bush earlier this month, is an executive on loan from IBM Corporation in Rochester, is currently serving as assistant commissioner of the Division of Rehabilitation Services in the MinnesotaDepartment of Jobs and Training. Congratulations David, and the 1990 Governor's Award winners!

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