United Cerebral Palsy of Central Maryland (UCP-CM) received an outright grant of $54,598 from The Marion I. & Henry J. Knott Foundation to further develop the speech-language therapy department’s iPad initiative at its Delrey School, an integrated educational and therapeutic setting for children and young adults with physical and other disabilities.
The school’s speech-language therapy department focuses on improving communication skills in order to help nonverbal or low verbal children find ways to communicate that enable them to interact with their environment and become as independent as possible.
The grant will pay the salary of the school’s senior speech-language pathologist, Patti Kurek, who will lead the program’s iPad initiative, as well as fund the purchase of seven new iPads with communication applications for the school.
Currently, Patti and her department use augmentative and alternative communication devices with the students, which are customized computer-like devices with adaptive switches as well as special hardware and software that help access computers. These devices are beneficial but limiting, especially for those students with severe disabilities, because they are bulky, heavy, and sometimes require fine motor skills to operate.
Patti and her department will utilize the new iPad technology as a better communication device to supplement her therapy techniques in teaching the students how to communicate and be more engaged in their learning. The iPad is an ideal communication device option because of its accessibility and multi-sensory capability. Unlike other communication devices, the iPad is portable, lightweight, and operates with an easy to use touch screen.
“Plus, iPads are exciting and captivating,” says Patti who is seeing that not only are the iPads helping to hold the attention of her students during therapy, but they are motivating them to practice outside of therapy. Patti adds, “iPads are also universally accepted. There is no stigma placed on a student for using an iPad, in fact it’s quite the opposite. Every student at every ability can use an iPad in some capacity, which creates accessibility, flexibility, and independence.”
The Marion I. & Henry J. Knott Foundation is a Catholic family foundation committed to honoring its founders’ legacy of generosity to strengthen its community. Working as a family, they are guided by the following shared beliefs and values: understanding and responding to the needs of its community through informed grantmaking; respecting the values of the Roman Catholic faith; engaging in the ongoing education of trustees and staff in the field of philanthropy and the nonprofit community; ensuring good stewardship of the resources entrusted to its use, and encouraging open communication, compassion, respect and trust among community, staff and family.