Rachel Bookman teaching class using adaptive technology for accessibility.

Classroom Adaptability

Multiple technologies made it possible for me to teach in the classroom. Most obviously, my Permobil wheelchair, but parallel parking next to the board to write was a challenge. Instead, I used the Permobil detachable tray on my wheelchair as a teachers podium and the built in USB charger on my wheelchair for my Apple iPad and Apple pencil to write on the board by projecting my screen via AppleTv which admin had installed in my classroom. 

I also used a microphone to assist me to project my voice (my classroom had high ceilings) and a laser pointer as a faster and easier way to point to a certain place on the board. I drove myself to work using my adapted BraunAbility Ford vehicle and used push buttons for ease of access since I often had a stack full of graded papers (and/or a Dunkin coffee) in my hands. I had the desks arranged in a U shape so that I could reach every student if they had a question or needed assistance.

I miss teaching, but I miss the connections made with the students and the staff even more. I know McQueen does too. I had a dog bed behind my desk where he would stay. One day he just was staring at the wall and the kids said they thought they “broke McQueen”. It was so funny I’ll never forget it. He always had a few friends in every class who would ask to pet him after the bell rang and if there was time he was always up for a quick pat.

Technology is a wonderful thing and I’m so thankful for the freedom and for the opportunities it has allowed me to experience and enjoy that I would not have been able to otherwise. Technology is making the world more accessible to people with disabilities. 

I was very lucky to have a supportive admin. Not all teachers (and other professionals) need to be able to “sit, stand, crouch for extended periods of time and be able to lift 50 pounds”. It’s time we revisit these application ‘requirements’ and make the workplace more inclusive for people with disabilities. 

“To include people with disabilities reported a 90% increase in retention of valued employees and a 72% increase in employee productivity”.