Technology Coaching

Coaching Stories

More than ever, people with I/DD are living fuller lives with the support of technology. Read stories from chapters of The Arc, below.


Sean is an intelligent individual who has a limited ability to communicate verbally with his family, caregivers and peers. Previously, Sean would use his iPad to convey visual cues (symbols, pictures) in combination with gestures and limited words to communicate. Seeking a more effective way to communicate, Sean signed up for Tech Coaching to learn how to use a typing-based communication application on his iPad. Sean worked with his coach, Jon, to master the app and improve his typing ability for speed and accuracy, greatly expanding Sean’s ability to converse with his family and others.


Ashlee came to The Arc Tech Coaching Center with the desire to learn how to use social media platforms safely and effectively to better connect with her loved ones. Her main area of focus was to learn how to use Facebook, as she thought that this would be a good way to communicate via messages, share photos and videos, and keep up with her large family’s activities. Her Tech Coaching Sessions allowed her to learn the ins and outs of using Facebook, all while emphasizing safety and etiquette in its use so that Ashlee could know which thoughts and pictures she could and should share with her friends. Her Tech Coaching experience gave her to keep up with and connect with her family independently and on her own time.


One of Amy’s main goals in life prior to receiving Tech Coaching was to better prepare herself for entering the job market. She worked with the Tech Coaching staff to create an email account and resume to be able to submit jobs online. She also learned how to search commonly-used online job boards to find jobs that she was interested and that matched her professional profile. Through her coaching, Amy has become much more confident and independent in the job application process and has used her skills to begin managing her job application process on her own.


One of Katie’s biggest goals in her life was to get a job and, as part of her steps toward achieving her goal, she came to The Arc Tech Coaching Center to learn how to search and apply for jobs online. Katie learned how to navigate to specific job websites, search for jobs that she was interested in and qualified for, and apply to jobs independently. Her learning efforts were quickly rewarded: within a few weeks, Katie has applied for and interviewed for a job that she eventually was hired for.


Suzzette came to The Arc Tech Coaching Center with a desire to learn how to use internet search engines to learn how to search for items and answers to questions that interest her. She had previous experience with using the internet for this purpose but had always required the support of a family member or staff member from The Arc to get to the information she was looking for. Her coach, Clay, not only taught her the basics on how to use search engines such as Bing and Google, he also taught her to keep records of the links she found useful and informative in Excel. With Clay’s help, Suzzette has garnered a greater sense of independence and is able to explore the subjects that most interest her on her own.


David came to his Tech Coach, Gina, with a very important goal: he wanted to learn how to access and use the accessibility features that came with his Android-powered Samsung smartphone. Being visually impaired, David had a hard time using his phone because the standard icon and text sizes were not large enough for him. Gina coached him in learning how to change the font size of the text on his phone and also how to use the magnify feature if something needed to be enhanced further. David now has little trouble navigating from one app to another and greatly enjoys his newfound independence.


Theresa recently became the owner of a brand-new Kindle Fire, a tablet which would allow her to download all the videos, apps and books she wanted and have access to them at the touch of a button. In order to learn how to use it effectively, Theresa enlisted the help of Erica, a coach at The Arc Tech Coaching Center. Erica and Theresa began by setting up Theresa’s Amazon account using Theresa’s newly-created email account. After showing Theresa how to use her Gmail account, Erica helped show Theresa how to link her tablet to her Amazon account and navigate the app and video search engines on the tablet. Now that she’s able to use her tablet on her own, Theresa is now able to use her new tablet to pursue her own interests on an independent basis.


Clarence has significant trouble in communicating with others, specifically as it relates to having face-to-face conversations. When he was introduced to the Talk Tablet app at The Arc Tech Coaching Center Open House event, Clarence seized the opportunity to sign up to courses so that he could learn how to use it. Clarence worked with his coach, Latrice, to learn how to use the app on one of NewStar’s tablets. Mastering the app has helped Clarence to turn a new leaf: He is now much better able to communicate with his friends and support staff at the chapter and is becoming more and more outgoing as time goes on.


Stan came to the Tech Coaching Center with a solid understanding of how to use his tablet and smartphone to effectively navigate his daily routine. One challenge that he asked his coach, Domickus, to assist him with was learning how to better organize his emails on his tablet and smartphone. Stan primarily uses email to communicate with his family and friends but was having trouble getting through the jumble of email he receives on a weekly basis to get to the messages that matter most.


While the internet is a powerful and useful tool for all types of activities and goals, it can also be an unfamiliar and sometimes unsafe place. Ryan came to The Arc Tech Coaching Center wanting to learn how to use the internet in an efficient and safe way. Ryan had always wanted to learn the basics of using the internet but had never attempted to learn on his own due to his worries about encountering unsafe sites or situations through his exploration. Ryan began by taking lessons with his Tech Coach, Domickus, to learn how to use various internet search engines to find information and navigate to websites that way. Domickus then taught Ryan about internet safety, with an emphasis on identifying warning signs for unsafe sites and protecting Ryan’s personal information from unauthorized use. Domickus also helped Ryan set up some controls on his tablet and phone to help avoid unsafe sites. Equipped with his newfound knowledge on internet safety, Ryan is enjoying using the internet as a means to connect with his friends and as a tool to further his education.


Prior to meeting Ashley, her Tech Coach, and participating in Tech Coaching, Cyntoria often preferred to keep to herself and not engage in group activities. The Arc’s staff had tried to offer Cyntoria various learning opportunities, but none had captured her attention – until Cyntoria learned about the Tech Coaching Center. When Cyntoria received the flyer for the coaching program, she immediately expressed interest in participating, with a focus on how to use a tablet to access leisure and social activities. After working with her coach, Ashley, on learning the basics of how to use a tablet, Cyntoria’s attitude and demeanor towards learning and being with others has changed dramatically. Not only is she adamant on continuing to hone her skills in using a tablet in the future, she is also actively seeking to join in on other activities and services offered by the chapter. Cyntoria’s Tech Coaching experience was more than just a foray into using tech – it was a vehicle which allowed her to come out of her shell and engage more with others.


Bobbi came to her coach, Ashley, with an important issue: Bobbi has access to a tablet at home but had not received instruction on how to use it to access apps for education and entertainment. Instead of using her tablet to access these tools independently, Bobbi was constantly having to rely on her friends and caregivers to help her navigate to the tools she wanted to use. As a music aficionada, one of Bobbi’s main objectives was to learn how to use apps that would allow her to listen to music from her favorite artists. During her sessions, Ashley and Bobbi focused on learning how to use the search function on Youtube so that Bobbi could listen to her favorite songs at any time. She also learned how to use Google’s search function to find answers to other questions that arise in her daily routine. Tech Coaching has allowed for Bobbi to not only make greater use of her tablet, but also become more independent, informed and able to engage in the activities that she enjoys.


Mike was already familiar with computers, but he wanted to learn how to use the IDX System specific to his health care internship. Through tech coaching, he took the first steps in understanding and using the IDX computer software. Utilizing his new skills, he has been more successful in his internship. Through the tech coaching program, he has gained more independence. Mike plans to continue with the tech coaching program and his long-term goal is to expand his computer skills and gain fulltime employment.


Debbie needed to expand her computer skills to succeed at her internship at the University of Connecticut. Her support staff suggested tech coaching at her chapter of The Arc to learn the IDX System. With the support of her coach, Debbie learned how to use the IDX software and can now successfully schedule appointments on her own. This has enabled her to have more independence at work and made her a more marketable employee.


Jack has an internship that requires knowledge of a software system that he isn’t familiar with. He was offered the opportunity to have a tech coach support him and educate him on proper use of this system. This was extremely beneficial, as with Jack’s disability he required additional assistance to learn the system. With the support of his coach he learned the basics of the software. Now that he is proficient in the program, he can apply to full time positions once his internship is complete. Jack was extremely pleased with his progress and is happy that he met the goals he set for himself.


Lauren has a job but was seeking more autonomy at work. Her job coach referred her to her local chapter of The Arc to participate in tech coaching. She successfully learned how to locate and stock items using a scanner. This has enabled her to be more efficient at her job as she places items throughout the store. Tech coaching helped Lauren gain confidence and independence.


Alison signed up for tech coaching through her local chapter of The Arc to learn how to use the internet to apply for a job. With the support of her coach, Alison became familiar with a number of employment sites and learned how to do a search to find jobs. While she still needs some assistance, she has come a long way and intends to continue tech coaching so she can be more independent. Her goal is to gain employment and become financially independent.


Communication can be difficult for Amy, which is why she signed up for tech training at The Arc. She entered the program to gain basic computer skills and use a smartphone — to help her better communicate. With the support of Tia and Nadia, Amy learned basic computer skills and she can identify her email, social media, and basic hardware on her devices. She can even successfully log into social media. Her next goal is to learn how to use social media to contact friends and family.


Faith successfully created a resume using Google Docs through her tech training course. She picked a template, formatted it, and familiarized herself with features like spell check and fonts. This is a huge progression from the basic texting she was capable before the tech training. She is now empowered to explore how templates in Google Docs can help her in her job search.


Technology can help make people’s lives easier but can also help keep people safe. Glenn joined tech coaching to learn the evacuation procedures for fires and emergencies. Through his training with the support of technology, Glenn has become familiar with evacuation procedures and has successfully followed them during drills at his residence. His family finds comfort in this and the hope is Glenn can expand his knowledge using the tools that helped him succeed in learning the evacuation plans.


Technology can give individuals confidence in communicating, help connect with old friends, and even enter the work force. Ronnie entered tech training hoping to learn about using Facebook, look for schools online, and apply for jobs. He’s already achieved one of his goals during a social media session he learned to use Facebook to appropriately communicate and connect with his friends. Through future training, he will expand his skillset and access the information he needs online.


Alyssa is reliant on a job coach in work environment, but right now the challenge she faces is finding job placement. Her goal with tech coaching, was to learn how to use the internet to search for and apply for jobs. Through the training she became comfortable using the internet and completed a number of job applications online.


Lisbeth signed up for coaching to improve her social skills. Through coaching she has gotten better at asking questions, making eye contact while engaging with people, and responding to answers. The training has empowered her to increase her social interactions with confidence. Additionally, she had more positive interactions with her peers and finds herself less reliant on staff when it comes to communicating.


Clayton came to The Arc Tech Coaching Center wanting to find a way to teach himself skills that he can use toward his personal and professional goals. One of the main sources of information that he wanted to be able to use was YouTube but, given his mobility and communications limitations, Clayton needed to find effective strategies to use Youtube’s search engine that would match his abilities. His tech coach, Rob, practiced searching and navigating the Youtube site to find the tutorials and video trainings that Mitchell sought. Through this coaching, Clayton has become more confident in using Youtube on his own and has begun to teach himself new and valuable skills.


Mitchell came to The Arc’s Tech Coaching Center because he needed some extra help for another computer class that he was taking at the same time. Mitchell’s troubles with reading and writing had made the going tough in his other class and he sought out his coach, Rob, for some extra, one-on-one instruction on computer basics. With Rob’s help, Mitchell was able to get up to speed in his coursework and deliver an excellent final Powerpoint presentation that allowed him to graduate from the course. Since he graduated the course, Mitchell was gifted a computer that he can use at home for work, leisure and to communicate with his friends and family.


David is a young man that has trouble communicating verbally and had a strong desire to improve his ability to communicate through typing. Once David had expressed his interest in learning how to type more effectively, he began taking typing lessons with his tech coach, Rob, and soon was making progress in his typing speed and accuracy. David particularly enjoyed practicing typing using the typing games that Rob had introduced him to during their lessons. Through his Tech Coaching experience, David has become much better and more confident at communicating through typing.


Tina, a woman with cognitive and visual disabilities, had always wanted to learn basic computer skills to be able to live more independently but had trouble finding an instructor who could help her make computers more visually accessible. Her tech coaches, Tia and Nadia, taught Tina how to switch on certain accessibility features in Microsoft Windows, such as enlarged icons, screen reading applications and others, to make her use of technology more seamless. Having learned how to make her computer more accessible, Tina is now able to take her computer learning skills to the next level.


Ember was brand new to using computers when she enrolled at one of The Arc’s Tech Coaching Centers. Her main goal was to achieve a basic level of understanding of how to search the internet to find specific information she was looking for. This would include using search engines, navigating web pages and accessing resources that would enable her to engage in other lifespan activities including finding and applying to jobs in her area. Her tech Coaching training sessions have allowed her to focus her internet research skills and apply to jobs in her area that fit her skillset.


Renisha enrolled in the Tech Coaching Centers because she wanted to learn how to use email to communicate better with her loved ones and submit job applications online. Renisha’s coaches, Tia and Nadia, worked with Renisha to set up a personal email account and taught her the basics on how to send emails and read incoming messages. Renisha took to using her email quickly and eventually became comfortable enough with email to showcase her talents to some of her friends and colleagues.


When Brian’s parents heard about The Arc’s Tech Coaching Center, they saw the opportunity for Brian, a mostly non-verbal young man with an affinity for computers, to expand his use of computers to more than watching his favorite cartoons on Youtube. His parents already knew that Brian had great typing skills and could navigate the web with little difficulty, but after his first tech coaching session, it became evident that Brian’s computer skills went beyond what his parent’s thought. Brian’s Tech Coach, Charlotte, and Brian’s parents worked together to identify a specific goal he wanted to accomplish using his computer skills. After completing several online career interest assessments, Charlotte helped Brian create a resume that would enable him to pursue jobs in the areas that interested him the most. Through the Tech Coaching Centers, Brian is on track to find a job that best suits his skills, interests and life goals.


Cherilyn is a non-verbal individual who, prior to receiving tech coaching, was mainly using hand written notes and basic sign to communicate with her caregivers and loved ones. She chose to receive Tech Coaching as a stepping stone towards using computers and tablets as augmentative communication devices. She worked with her coach, Bernadette, to learn basic computer skills such as typing and using a mouse to communicate her thoughts. Since her lessons began, Cherilyn has sufficiently progressed in her typing skills to request a formal technology assessment to try different keyboard-based communication devices out. Cherilyn hopes that, with a new and more advanced device, she will be able to increase her independence and learn other computer-based skills.


Michael came into the The Arc’s Tech Coaching Center with a basic yet extremely important need: to learn how to communicate more effectively using his tablet and augmentative communication software. Michael is non-verbal and uses his tablet to communicate with his caregivers, family members and friends. Michael worked with his tech coach, Ashley, to improve his communication skills on his tablet. Michael has made a good deal of progress since he first began his training and continues to improve his abilities every day.


Mike was about to start an internship when he realized that he was lacking in a skill that would be critical to his success: Microsoft Excel. While he had experience in inputting data into data sheets, he did not have much practice in sorting and manipulating information in Excel and he knew that he would need to know how to do this in his new role. Mike’s coach, Sandy, has helped him by showing him the basics of Excel and pointing him to useful tutorials on Youtube that he could use to further improve upon his newfound skills. The combination of the coaching he received at the Tech Coaching Center and his self-teaching gave Michael the knowledge and confidence he needed to succeed in his new internship.


In order for Vanessa to find a job in the community, she needed to learn how to navigate online job boards and apply to jobs online. She wanted to find a job that was a right fit for her skills and that was within her geographic area. Thanks to her coach, Sandy, Vanessa was able to find, apply for and secure a job at a local Homegoods store. Sandy has also helped Vanessa to balance her own checkbook, manage her finances and live more independently. QUOTE: “Tech Coaching helped me find a job and become more independent.” — Vanessa


Jess signed up for the tech coaching through her chapter to acquire skills that she knows would be valuable in her job. Her coach, Ashley, created a step-by-step training on how to use the scanning device Jess uses at her work and how to input items electronically into her company’s computer system. Through the training program, she has grown more comfortable with using the scanner and mastered how to store digital documents she’s scanned on her computer. She plans to continue her training to gain additional skills and become more independent as she seeks to further her career. QUOTE: “I liked having Ashley teach me.” — Jess


Jack loves to learn and is constantly seeking opportunities to acquire news skills. He signed up for the training program to use technology to navigate public transportation in his city. The bus enables Jack to get from home to his day programs, work, and internships. Jack’s coach, Sandy, introduced him to a transportation app that enables him to see when the bus is coming and what route gets him where he needs to be. With the support of his coach and the app, Jack is able to manage his own transportation to and from work and other programs. The goal is to eventually expand Jack’s skill set so he can travel to other places. The only complaint Jack has with his new life as a commuter is that he wishes the bus would be on time.


Nick has always had a passion for videography and computers. He signed up for tech coaching to turn this passion into a practical skill. Nick began his journey with his coach, David, to create and edit videos. Filming and editing videos is an intricate, multi-step process that can be quite involved. Nick’s learning style requires that tasks be broken down and for directions to be clearly defined for him to succeed. Over a five-week training, David supported Nick in learning the basics of creating and editing videos while setting him up on a path toward mastering these skills. By the end of the program, Nick could run the camera and audio for a film and even work a little with editing equipment. Nick takes great pride in what he learned and accomplished with the support of his coach. He has already shared his desire to return next summer to expand his knowledge base in this field.