Written by Service Facilitator Cary Dorn, with additions from Service Facilitator Shelia Grittner.
I have the opportunity to work with Lexie Barker when my coworker, Lexie’s facilitator, Sheila Grittner, is on vacation or needs a paper work day.
On the morning of April 25, 2018, I received a phone call from Lexie calling from her new cell phone. I was unable to answer at the time, and since Lexie is hearing impaired, I decided to text her. I felt it was unusual that she called me, so I was worried that something may be wrong. She is great at reading and writing, so I knew that she would comprehend what I would send in a text message. Our first text went like this- “Hi Lexie! I see you called me. How are you?” She simply texted back “I am fine now.” Then I replied with “I’m so glad! Are you going to Securian today?” with no response from Lexie. However, the very next morning she texted me “I went to the Union Depot yesterday. I go to Securian Center today.” I was impressed that she texted back and that the words were capitalized where appropriate.
When speaking to Shelia soon after, I discovered that Lexie did not use a phone or text others while in the community. A while back, Lexie missed a ride home from a community group in St. Paul. The incident caused a good deal of stress for her, and a goal of being more independent was made. Lexie and her Lifeworks community group visited the Minnesota State Department of Human Service, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services. There she learned about a grant providing Jitterbug smart cell phones to those with hearing loss. Lexie liked the idea and brought the application home to apply. In the end, she was awarded the grant and received the Jitterbug phone!
This was a new tool for Lexie and there were some hiccups. Would she understand how she could use the phone to contact others in an emergency? It did take a while for her to understand its power. She started by texting her coach that she was on her metro mobility ride, mornings and afternoons. The task of informing others to her location became easy.
This cell phone has brought her to a different level of independence, she can navigate the skyway by herself, be in the community and will text to let others know where she is at.
Since April, Lexie and I have been texting each other several times a week. She seems to enjoy sending me little pieces of information about her day. I like to think she enjoys my texts too and shows it by texting back. She likes to tell me what she did at small group and what books and magazines she looks at at the library. She continues to text me at least four times a week. I look forward to hearing about her day and our friendship has grown. I am so proud of her! And she should be very proud of herself too.