Assistive technology adds up to success

By David Flagg
Lead DTA Staff Member

andrew pizza 1How hard is it to make math more fun and interactive? Well, it can be as easy as pie — a pizza pie, that is.

Andrew is one of the members served by Gompers’ Day Training for Adults program. We have been doing much more with assistive technology (or AT) in all of our program rooms as we try to find high- and low-tech ways to encourage greater independence for our members as they accomplish everyday tasks, so recently DTA Room Supervisor Joseph Nofsinger and I sat down with Assistive Technology Specialist Niraj Parikh to do an AT assessment for Andrew.

andrew pizza 2In the past, getting Andrew through his math exercises has been a challenge — so the goal was to figure out how we could get Andrew to be independently motivated to complete a page of math problems. Niraj, Joseph and I brainstormed on what Andrew likes to do on a day-to-day basis and, as we talked and compared notes, we realized he loves to do puzzles and also loves pizza. Why not combine the two and see if we can come up with an answer that works for him?

Using some simple colored paper, lamination and Velcro dots, we created a couple of different interactive “pizzas” for Andrew to use while working his math problems. One of the pies was divided into six detachable slices with removable pepperonis, while the second was a whole pie with removable pepperonis and onion slices (for a little variety in counting).

andrew pizza 3“There’s more to this AT solution than providing a new puzzle for Andrew,” Nofsinger pointed out. “We are trying to transition him to Gompers Employment Services, where he will be able to earn a paycheck. If he takes on a job where he needs to put 10 spoons in a package, for example, he is going to need to have counting skills. This pizza is one more tool that gets him one step closer to increased independence.”

While Andrew still works best with a bit of guidance while working his math sheet, he does it willingly and is able to do the counting — simply by removing or reattaching pieces of the pizza — and come up with the answers on his own. Math seems to have become much more enjoyable for him with this new way to process the task.