For many, striving for success in academics is a challenge in and of itself. But for those with physical disabilities, access to a complete education can be an even greater challenge.
We were moved to learn the story of Logan, an example of great perseverance. Here’s how Logan has been regaining his independence with a little help from accessibility technologies including Workflow and Apple’s Switch Control.
Growing up on a farm in rural Alabama, Logan Prickett wasn’t afraid of much. He loved extreme sports – motocross, BMX, and skateboarding, to name a few. “I would pretty much try anything dangerous at least once,“ Logan said in a recent presentation.
In the 8th grade, Logan went for an MRI to determine why he wasn’t growing as he should. The contrast dye used in the MRI caused a fatal allergic reaction, and Logan’s heart stopped beating for 45 minutes. When Logan awoke, he was blind, physically impaired, and speech impaired due to lack of oxygen.
Nevertheless, he pressed on through rounds of physical therapy and found new ways to enjoy doing what he loves, including skiing, horseback riding, and even skydiving.
Fully cognitively capable and gifted, Logan’s gone on to further his education, studying psychology in this third year at Auburn University in Montgomery. Logan uses assistive technology like Switch Control to augment his abilities, helping him to adapt to daily life and thrive academically.
One of the greatest challenges for someone who’s visually impaired is learning math. Often, students use Nemeth Braille to feel and respond to math problems, but Logan’s condition prevents him from being able to sense the code. That didn’t stop him however. Logan’s determination caught the attention of AUM staff, inspiring a new program named The Logan Project.
The Logan Project researches new ways of teaching college math to low-vision students. The program helps students fulfill their core requirements and ultimately work towards completing a degree. Currently, team members use a carefully constructed method of audio communication to teach students one-on-one. In the future, they hope to create software that automates the process, making the method available to many.
Logan is the heart of the program, inspiring the team with his incredible motivation. Logan not only wants to give people with visual and motor difficulties a fighting chance at college math, but also is passionate about creating accessible environments in everyday life. Logan himself uses accessibility technology for activities like hunting and fishing.
One major undertaking of The Logan Project has been to give Logan the ability to communicate independently. The low volume of Logan’s voice means that he can’t use Siri to accomplish his tasks. Project member Dr. Luis Perez recently introduced Logan to Workflow, and it’s played an important role in improving his connection with the world.
On his devices, Logan uses Switch Control, an accessibility feature built-in to iOS, to navigate apps and have the screen read aloud to him. With both features supported in Workflow, the team at AUM created workflows that Logan now uses for everything from sending messages to reading his calendar, listening to articles, playing music, and more.
The team then added the workflows to Logan’s Home Screen and organized them into folders. He navigates the workflows with a connected switch and easily picks one to run. Without the ability to see or directly manipulate a screen, these gains in efficiency become substantial for interacting with the world.
The impact that Workflow and Switch Control have for Logan has been incredible. Ann Gulley recounted:
Prior to November 2015, Logan had no independent access to any technology. He had no ability to communicate independently. [Workflow] changed Logan’s life.
Recently, Logan had the opportunity to tell his personal story to an audience at the National Science Foundation. Speaking for over 20 minutes about his experiences, Logan used a series of custom workflows that provided him with audio cues on what to say next. Since then, he’s given presentations at the likes of the CSUN Assistive Technology Conference, where he continues to share the potential of process-driven math with everyone.
We built Workflow to empower everyone to be more productive and efficient, but we couldn’t have predicted the role it would play in Logan’s life.
Visit the Accessibility page on Apple’s website to learn about the options available to iOS users. And if you’re an app developer, we strongly encourage you to make your app accessible. You might be surprised at the impact you’ll have.
Learn more about The Logan Project on AUM’s website. Learn more about automating accessibility in Dr. Luis Perez’s article.