Wizdom Education Newsletter October 2, 2003

Special Education October Newsletter
Wizdom Education
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 Wizdom Educator - The online newsletter of Wizdom Education .  
October 2, 2003 
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In This Issue
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  • For All the Right Reasons:
    A Note from Dennis Wisnosky
  • Wizdom Education Gives Rides in a Totally Restored 1946 Piper J3 Cub
  • What will I do? Where will I live? What will I do in my free time?
  • Assistive Technology tools that perform far better and costs far less
  • Tell Us Your Story

  • Wizdom Education Gives Rides in a Totally Restored 1946 Piper J3 Cub
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    Wizdom founder Dennis Wisnosky owns a fully restored 1946 Piper Cub A few years ago we were asked to donate rides for fundraising events. The results were better than anyone expected.

    We continue to donate rides to help raise money for organizations supporting education. Examples include: Little Friends, the Council for Exceptional Children, the Illinois Association of Administrators of Special Education, the Naperville Public Library, and Benedictine University.

    The donation process is initiated through a silent auction, a live auction or a raffle. All of the proceeds go to the organization.

    Please visit the Wizdom Education Website for more details! »

    What will I do? Where will I live? What will I do in my free time?
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    Wizdom had the pleasure of presenting "Transition Planning, Independence and Beyond" to the PACER Center national conference this past August. PACER, a national Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights, is based in Minnesota.

    "PACER held this conference to give our Parent Fellows, Mentors, staff and Minnesota families the opportunity for a hands on look at the latest thinking and the latest technology available to them," said Deborah Leuchovius, PACER National Transition Coordinator. "Wizdom added a unique dimension. Their message is simple and their software is powerful." For this Conference, PACER assembled presenters and associates from as far away as Hawaii and Vancouver, Canada.

    Philip Vitkus, Wizdom Director of Instructional Services and Dennis E. Wisnosky, Wizdom founder, demonstrated that using web-based technology, Wizdom TransPlanner! can simplify the transition process.

    Wizdom's Transition Planning Process session showed some things that web-based technology can do:

    Directions
    - A web based online survey identifies all of the goals and preferences of the student.

    Possibilities - A Knowledge Base of school and community service providers is maintained by the service providers and automatically contains their information in a common format. (Patent Applied for).

    Methods - Software that matches the Directions and Possibilities and generates a 1, 2 or 3 year Transition Plan that is unique to the student. (Patent Pending).

    "The response from those who took advantage of the hands-on demonstration was outstanding," said Dennis E. Wisnosky. "Our goal was to reach a wider audience than we have ever had at a single session, we achieved this goal."

    About the PACER Center
    Founded in 1977, PACER Center was created by parents of children and youth with disabilities to help other parents and families facing similar challenges. Today, PACER Center expands opportunities and enhances the quality of life of children and young adults with disabilities and their families. PACER is staffed primarily by parents of children with disabilities and works in coalition with 18 disability organizations.

    Please read more about Wizdom and PACER Center »

    Assistive Technology tools that perform far better and costs far less
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    Historically, assistive tools and technologies have been targeted to individuals with "clinically obvious" needs related to visual, auditory or physical challenges. But thankfully, better diagnostic tools and procedures have lead to a broadened awareness of the numbers of people who could benefit from assistive technology.

    Of course, all the great technology in the world means nothing if it costs too much for widespread use. Effectively, "if its not affordable, then its not accessible." For far too long, software vendors in the accessibility market, have made a specific point of charging premium prices for their products. They felt that serving a "specialty / limited" marketplace, justifies higher prices. Affordability has multiple dimensions: school / institution, home and workplace. For individuals with severe challenges, there are government and not-for- profit agencies that can provide some levels of subsidies. However, there are no subsidies for the growing universe of individuals classified as learning disabled. They are truly caught in "no man's land," left to fend for themselves.

    With continuing budget crises nationwide, education, and especially Special Education is often the target for reduction. Schools are left with programs that they cannot afford; individuals can't afford to have assistance in their personal lives, and businesses cannot afford to make assistive technology affordable for employees with special needs. The time is now for radical changes.

    To maximize the greatest good for the greatest number of people, assistive technologies must become "lifestyle tools". They must be same tools that are used everywhere by individuals every day, no matter where they are, in school, at home or on the job. Common tools used across multiple environments can help individuals with challenges achieve the degrees of independence that every person wants and needs, regardless of their personal situations. This can only be achieved when there is the right balance between technical maturity and affordability.

    The Premier Approach
    We have many historical examples of how breakthroughs often come from newcomers who approach existing problems with radical new ideas and proactive concepts that knock "old thinking" off of dead center. It is exactly that kind of thinking that Premier Assistive has brought to the assistive technology marketplace over the last several years. Of course, new ideas without real-world implementation are also worthless. Again, Premier Assistive "puts its money where its mouth is." We are now positioning our solid technologies within a framework of liberal software licensing practices. Combined with our aggressive product pricing and grant programs, we can ensure that more schools, businesses and individuals than ever before can truly afford the reading and writing technologies they need so desperately. These are true innovations that will meet the expanding special needs in our society.

    By Kenneth Grisham, President / CEO of Premier Assistive Technology, Inc.

    Tell Us Your Story
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    Do you have a story that you think would be of special interest to our readers? Is there a topic that you'd like us to cover? Questions that you'd like us to answer?

    EMAIL US! We'd love to hear from you.

    For All the Right Reasons:
    A Note from Dennis Wisnosky
    "Son, I don't know if that is such a good idea."

    "Why Mom?" I said.

    "Because you are too emotional," she replied.

    Mom is certainly correct about the emotional side, but that's perhaps one of the reasons why there is now Wizdom Education.

    My first college degree is in Education - BsEd Physics Mathematics, California University of Pennsylvania (CUP). Back then it was California State Teachers College. - I had the training, did the student teaching, etc. But, I'd always wanted to be an engineer. My family situation required that I attend the closer-to- home CUP for a Bachelors Degree and then required that I start earning money immediately - which led to degrees in engineering.

    So it happens that, engineering has been my career. Through luck and hard work, I was given the opportunity to launch a program for the US Air Force that revolutionized manufacturing in the Aero Space industry - at least that is what one of my award citations says. What we did must have been pretty good because I was invited to testify before subcommittees of the US Senate and House about how to apply what we learned to all of American Industry.

    After that I went on to the Private Sector and developed automation technology for the automotive and other industries world- wide. A highlight of this 2nd phase of my career was being named a "Hero of US Manufacturing" by Fortune Magazine.

    The third phase, Special Education (SE) - began in 1999, when Wizdom Systems, Inc. (founded in 1986) was awarded a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract to research the Transition Planning Process (TPP) as part of the Individualized Education Program. (IEP). We thought that perhaps our knowledge about automation could be applied in Special Education to ease the administrative burdens. Among other things, we learned that the overhead cost in SE is 3 times that of RE and climbing - clearly there was an opportunity here.

    The SBIR was successful - not because it confirmed our hypothesis, but because we learned that some of the same technology that we had developed for managing other highly complex and litigious environments could be used in SE. So, it seemed to our people that we had accomplished our objectives - end of story.

    Then I visited our initial pilot sites. These visits were filled with emotion that I had not expected - not in the least. It is one thing to observe and interact with the most involved children. But, that is an emotion that one can walk away from, however hard it may be. It' is an entire other thing to observe and to work with the people in SE who do these jobs every day of their lives - because they want to do them. These are the people who I truly believed must be unburdened from non-essential tasks so that they can focus on the needs of the children. But, would they see it that way?

    Yes! One person who I told would most likely have his job eliminated because of our technology said to me, "Dennis, I know that your software can do it better than I can," "Don't worry about me, work for the children," "I can easily find another job." Wow, that is emotion unbridled and with the proper focus.

    Today, Wizdom Education is helping the children and the parents and the schools and the community service providers. Our estimate is that we can eliminate about 25% of the administrative costs. But this is not the goal - our number one goal is to help the children.

    Mom, I am dedicated to this - and all of its emotion.

    Dennis E. Wisnosky is the founder of Wizdom Education. Recognition for his pioneering work in business in the government and private sectors includes the International Engineer of the Year Award, testimony before the U.S. House and Senate on productivity and quality of work life issues, Crain's Illinois Business High Tech Entrepreneur Award, California State University's Medallion of Distinction lifetime achievement award and the USAF Meritorious Civilian Service Award. In May of 1997, Wisnosky was recognized by Fortune Magazine as "One of the Five Heroes of Manufacturing"

    A multi-engine, instrument rated pilot, Mr. Wisnosky holds a bachelors degree in Physics and Mathematics, and masters degrees in Electrical Engineering and Management Science.

    To contact Dennis E. Wisnosky directly: dwiz@wizdom.com



    electronicagenda3.gif Upcoming
    Events

    Transition Summit
    October 15
    Crowne Plaza Hotel
    Springfield, Illinois
    2003 DCDT International Conference
    A Season of Change for Transition
    October 23-25, 2003
    The Historic Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center
    Roanoke, VA
    The 2003 Illinois Council for Exceptional Children (ICEC) Fall Conference
    October 30 - November 1
    Hyatt Regency Woodfield
    Schaumburg, Illinois
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