The Accessible Setup

What do people with disabilities use to get stuff done?

Emily Wolinsky

Emily Wolinsky

Project specialist

1. Who are you and what do you do?

Hi everyone! I'm 34 and I was diagnosed with SMA at 18 months, which kind of puts me at a Type 2.5. I am currently living in Austin, TX and moved here rather randomly after graduating from Edinboro University of PA in 1999. By moving out here, with all of my family/friends/support networks back in Upstate NY, I pretty much forced myself to live independently.

The first five years were pretty challenging, but I managed to get a lot accomplished. I found an amazing PCA who has worked with me for twelve years named Nemo (she's from Ethiopia) and eventually I found a real job teaching high school English/Journalism/Reading/ESL for seven years. Working a "real" gig allowed me to escape the system and I was able to buy a home, start driving a modified van, and manage my PCAs with a Client Directed Services program that a Medicaid waiver pays for.

In 2010 I was laid-off by my school district, so I decided to return to school and get my MA in Counseling and find a job working with individuals with disabilities who wanted to be independent and taken seriously. I am currently working for the Texas State Independent Living Council as a Project Specialist. It's the best job I've ever had. When I'm not working, I tutor part-time, and run a resource website for adults with SMA called www.smaisland.org. For fun, I hang out with my boyfriend of five years, Keith, my two dogs, and many wonderful friends. I like to play poker, see independent films, and read.

2. What hardware are you using?

I use everything Apple. I've always been a loyal Mac nerd, and only once or twice have I crossed over to the dark side and owned Windows products. Just thinking of them makes me want to take a shower. Currently, my most used technology is my 27-inch Mac desktop (Intel Core 2 duo, 3.06 GHz, 4 GB Ram, 1TB hard drive), my iPad 2, and my Kindle, which is a few years old. I had an Macbook Air, which I used quite regularly until I left it outside in the Texas sun for an hour on my covered patio. It melted. That also made me sad.

3. And what software?

I use a number of different apps for my iPad. Favorite apps are:

Facebook, Camera, FaceTime, Kindle, Scrabble, Lose It! (cause I'm fat), Calculator (cause I'm stupid), Day One, Diner Dash, Zynga Poker, EEBA (a budgeting app), and Penultimate that allows me to use a notebook with my stylus pen (made by Griffin).

On my desktop, I use Skype to do my interviews for SMA Island. On Skype I use a program called Call Recorder (not free, I think I paid $20 to use it). I also use iWork (Pages mostly) and Microsoft Office for Mac. When I played poker I installed Windows 7 on my Apple with Parallels. I hardly ever switch over though because it makes me feel dirty (see above).

My preferred browser is Google Chrome. Google Chrome is my lover. I use it all the time. I create forms for work in Google Docs, and generally live in the Cloud.

My preferred software for music is not software, I use the Amazon Cloud and I sometimes use iTunes. iTunes is probably my least favorite of all Apple stuff. It's too clunky. Amazon's Cloud is so much friendlier.

4. What assistive technology equipment are you using?

My Invacare wheelchair rises up (to heaven), reclines, and tilts. I use a reacher - black, short, and it doesn't have those weird suction cups on the end. I use this stand for my iPad that I bought at Brookstone and my stylus pen. I have a Craftmatic Adjustable Bed. I also use a small laptop table desk thingy with wheels on it that I can take around the house.

5. What would be your dream setup?

I would love another Macbook Air. It was so light and easy to carry around. But honestly, I'm currently content with my set-up. Oh, I'd like to be able to pee out of my elbow, but I don't think that's exactly what you're wanting to hear.