Melissa, 14 years

Like any other 14 year old, Melissa wants to do things for herself. Born with cerebral palsy (CP) and cortical vision impairment, Melissa uses a wheelchair, is unable to read visually and relies on others for many of her daily activities. But whenever she can, she prefers to be self-sufficient. Variety is helping her become more independent this school year with the purchase of an iPad and accessories.

In the past, an adult had to read textbooks and novels to Melissa. Now, with the use of her iPad and Bluetooth headset from Variety, her teacher can upload reading materials for Melissa to listen to on her own. Melissa has limited mobility of her hands, making swiping the screen difficult, so she uses a special joystick device to navigate the iPad.

Melissa received her iPad from Variety at the end of August. Although she had used a similar device belonging to the school last spring, she had not used it during the summer months. On her own, she remembered how to use the iPad, navigate selections and launch the Voice Dream app to listen to Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.” She even figured out how to turn the iPad camera around to take a selfie!

In addition to listening to books and homework, Melissa can use the iPad to keep track of her daily activities utilizing a calendar app where she can record events, appointments, assignments, and can complete math homework utilizing a talking calculator. Melissa will also be able to use the iPad to record her own voice for assignments, rather than having to dictate to someone else to write.

Melissa, who began high school this fall, is looking forward to being more independent. “I want to do it all myself,” she says. “I can go in my room and do (homework). And when that assignment is finished I just record (my answers)” to email the homework to her teacher.

Melissa’s Speech Language Pathologist, Kristin, says “There was a noticeable positive change when Melissa was introduced to the iPad and its capabilities. She was happier and more engaged. It gives her control and independence over some parts of her life that she never used to have.”

Melissa has been a part of the Variety family since 2008 when she received funding for a vehicle modification. She enjoys attending Variety’s Future Kids events with her twin sister, Sarah, younger brother, William, and her parents.

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