2003 Winner - Katie Marie Shaw

Photo of Katie Marie Shaw

"I'm thrilled!" said Barbara Shaw when she first learned that The Eric Fund would be funding a Lightwriter for her 20-year-old daughter Katie Marie. "Katie will be too!"

Katie Marie, who is developmentally delayed with a severe expressive language disorder, is in her final year of a transition program at Howard Community College in Maryland. She has mastered the art of communicating with a Lightwriter SL87, which she has been able to use on loan through the school program. However, since it is school property, Katie Marie would not have access to this crucial piece of augmentative communication once she leaves the school system in the spring.

Katie relies on the Lightwriter to communicate her needs and express her feelings when she is conducting her day-to-day activities outside the home. Her mom is able to interpret the sign language that she uses at home, but says that Katie Marie rarely communicates via sign language outside the home.  When she is interacting with people who are unfamiliar with her disability, or engaged in such basic functions as ordering food at a restaurant, asking for directions, or requesting help if she is sick, Katie relies solely on the assistance of the Lightwriter to do her "talking" for her. Her mother explained that the ease-of-use of the Lightwriter continues to improve too. "It's gotten so much smaller and lighter since Katie Marie began using it," her mother said, "it's no longer the big bulky piece of equipment that it use to be."

Katie Marie is also very ambitious. Her part-time job at Pizza Hut allows her to earn extra money, but not enough to be able to afford expensive assistive technology. She is thrilled that The Eric Fund will help her to achieve this goal, so that she may be able to live, work and play independently after she graduates from community college.