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Carolyn Rasta - Assistive Technology Specialist

Carolyn Rasta - Assistive Technology Specialist

What is your personal philosophy?

"The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the greatest intention." (Kahlil Gibran). Laughter is the best medicine; having a sense of humor can get you through the worst of times. And as my dad always said, a smile goes a long way.

Where were you before you came to LPS?

I've been at LPS for eight years, and prior to that I provided Occupational Therapy Services in the Wayland Public School system for twelve years. I went to Simmons for my Master's in Education in AT, and I'm so glad I did because I love what I do and where I do it. 

Tell us something that might surprise us about you.

I lived in a tent on the side of a mountain in Alaska for three months!

What keeps you motivated?

My motivation at work comes from the excitement of learning something new every day, whether from my colleagues or our students. It's a gift to be part of a supportive, collaborative environment, and I'm inspired by the efforts our students put forth every single day. LPS is truly a special place! 

What three traits define you?

Compassionate, committed, and positive. 

Last book you read?

The last few books I've read include Jane Austen and Out of my Mind by Sharon Draper. I'm currently reading How to be an Antiracist by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi

What do you like to do for fun?

When I'm not at work I enjoy living on the beach (it's a crazy commute but worth it), paddle boarding, sea kayaking, reading, baking, walking, running, family time, funny movies, puzzles, game night, and cats (with fingers crossed for a dog in the spring).

Favorite Holiday Movie?

My favorite holiday movie is Elf. Smiling's my favorite! 

What shows are you currently binge watching?

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia while anxiously awaiting the final seasons of Doc Martin and Victoria.

What's one thing you couldn't live without?

A sense of humor and my husband and daughters who keep me laughing, even in the darkest times.

Can you explain what you do at LPS?

I'm the Assistive Technology (AT) Specialist. AT, as defined by IDEA, is: "Any item, piece of equipment, software program, or product system that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of persons with disabilities." AT services are defined as, "Any service that directly assists an individual with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device." AT can be low tech, such as a reading strip with colored overlay for visual tracking, whereas high tech tools include online programs. Here are some of the high tech tools available to all our students at LPS: Read&Write, Bookshare, Kami, and our most recent addition, BARD (Braille & Audio Reading Download; over 200,000 human voice audiobooks with unlimited copies and borrow time for all LPS students). The above AT tools enable students to listen to digital text, including their own typed text for editing, using text to speech. Additional features include adjustable speech rate, voice options, highlighting in sync with audio (or students can mute the audio and follow along at their independent reading rate), highlight tools, collect highlights, built in dictionary and picture dictionary, vocabulary list creator, word prediction, speech to text, audio notes, screen recordings, and more.

One of the things I love most about LPS is that our educators follow the guidelines of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) by automatically differentiating. Students learn how they learn best and express what they know in the way that works best for them. They have the tools they need in order to be successful while simultaneously receiving remedial services from their teachers. Not every student needs the same tools to be successful - one size doesn't fit all - but every student should have what they need so they can be successful. It's like reading glasses; they're specific to one's needs and without them we couldn't see, therefore, glasses are within the scope of AT. Reading glasses aren't cheating, and likewise, using AT tools isn't cheating. Here's my favorite UDL poster, which conveys this message perfectly.