Emily Follensbee School specializes in providing educational programs for students (aged 2 years 8 months to 13 years) of age, with multiple, complex learning needs.  Operation Communication was designed to promote educational and social opportunities for the school’s special needs students who are nonverbal and present with complex physical access needs through the use of technology.

An EducationMatters grant provided the funding to purchase a communication device and peripherals; students able to demonstrate their mastery of the technology were then eligible for funding for a personal device through the Alberta Aids to Daily Living program, greatly increasing the reach of the granted funds.

The original expected outcome was that each student involved would maximize their potential in terms of their communication skills.  To date, all of the students not only have the ability to communicate ‘yes’ and ‘no’,  but have begun to  initiate messages, communicate their wants and needs, and started to engage in communication gathering and sharing.  The impact of this technology has far exceeded the expectations of Emily Follensbee’s school community, increasing the quality of life for students and their families immeasurably.

One particular student has been able to use her device not only at school and at home, but also in the community:

  • she did a presentation to her Church group on how using the device is an example of continued learning
  • she was able to meet and communicate with Justin Bieber, a thrill of a lifetime
  • she was also on the news and is on YouTube talking about her abilities