Andrew Drummond: Improving Lives of People with Disabilities
By John M. Williams
Leesburg, VA --Andrew Drummond, M.Ed., ATS-Pg Cert, Assistive Technology Consultant and Founder of Out of the Box Accessibility Solutions, LLC, is sitting in his office in Leesburg, thinking about ways to improve the lives of people with disabilities. Motivated by his multiple disabling conditions and an older sister with spina bifida, as far back as he can remember, he has had a driving ambition to assist individuals with disabling conditions improve their lives.
To accomplish his goals he opened his doors in March 2015. “I founded the company because I believe we all have a responsibility, as educational professionals, to support the needs of all learners in every aspect of their lives,” said Drummond.
al th Out of the Box Accessibility Solutions provides comprehensive educational evaluations for K-12 students and staff in Virginia and the District of Columbia. In addition, the company provides services in assistive technology, speech and language, occupational therapy and physiceal therapy.
Assistive Technology is an umbrella term that includes assistive, adaptive, and rehabilitative devices for people with disabilities and also includes the process used in selecting, locating, and using them. This technology promotes greater independence by enabling people to perform tasks that they were formerly unable to accomplish, or had great difficulty accomplishing, by providing enhancements to, or changing methods of interacting with, the technology needed to accomplish such tasks.
Another aspect of the company’s services is Individualized Student and Family Training. Based on the needs of the individual, the staff develops customized training for students and parents to support the respective assistive technology software, supports, tools and devices being implemented.It uses several popular training topics that support differentiating instruction through the use of assistive technology software, apps and tools. The most popular professional development sessions so far are AT for Math, AT for Literacy and AT supports for Executive Functioning. In addition, the staff can custom author other professional development sessions based on the needs of the client.
Drummond sees a bridge linking high school and college students with disabilities to jobs.
In the employment area, Workplace accommodations are defined by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) as “any change in the work environment or in the way things are customarily done that enables an individual with a disability to enjoy equal employment opportunities (EEOC, 1992).” Out of the Box Accessibility Solutions provides comprehensive and affordable workplace accommodation assessments for employers to cover their employees with disabilities. The respective assessments are conducted either over the phone or in person depending on the needs of the client. Each assessment comes with a professionally written report that details possible reasonable workplace accommodations to ensure the employee is provided with the tools needed to be successful in the workplace.
The firm also provides expertise in preparation or in the form of testimony during administrative (due process hearings) or legal proceedings. The company’s staff can testify as expert witnesses or fact witnesses.
Drummond says, “My company also offers assistive technology manufacturers and software houses that create accessibility products the opportunity to have their products tested, trialed and evaluated by a team of assistive technology consultants that include therapists, educators and practitioners.” As a part of its comprehensive evaluation process, the respective product is also utilized by individuals with disabilities. According to Drummond, his staff has the skills, knowledge and experience to evaluate a wide range of assistive technology devices, tools or supports.
These assessments can be completed as private evaluations, independent educational evaluations (IEEs) or conducted on the behalf of the respective school district.
The company has a range of AT products in its office for use during testing. They are low tech communication systems, iPads, laptops with modified keyboards, adaptive mouse, a wide range of AT software including text to speech, speech to text, screen readers to name a few. Adaptive writing instruments, sensory tools for individuals with ADHD/ADD and Aspersers’ and vibrating watches.
Drummond has built a knowledgeable staff with strong emphasis on assistive technology products. His staff consists of Vanessa MacKay, MS, OTR/L – Assistive Technology Consultant & Occupational Therapist; Dr. Elizabeth Peyster, Assistive Technology Consultant & Physical Therapist; and Beth Schneider, M.S. CCC-SLP – Assistive Technology Consultant & Speech Pathologist.
Drummond says most of his clients come from a mix of schools, attorneys and parents of children with disabilities. Throughout his career he has specialized in helping children and adolescents with learning differences. During the inception of his company it was his intent to create a team of highly accomplished, experienced and dynamic related service providers to work with Out of the Box Accessibility Solutions. As an assistive technology consultant, he says he “has always taken pride in providing innovative and pragmatic solutions to support the needs of individuals with disabilities.”
MacKay shares Drummond’s pride and dedication. Over the years that she has been an occupational therapist, she has worked with a broad range of disabilities in private and public school programs. She has a specific interest and knowledge base in the area of language-based learning disabilities. Diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of 7, she is passionate about addressing and overcoming the challenges that are present in each child’s unique makeup.
Dr. Peyster’s wants to help children and their families find equipment and assistive technology to maximize both health and mobility. Her ultimate goals are to provide children with greater access to their home and community environments, and to improve their ability to perform desired activities within these environments.
During her tenure as a speech-language pathologist, Schneider has worked with families and children with a wide range of disabilities from birth to 22. In the past decade, Schneider worked at schools for children with severe special needs, as well as those where children were integrated into the general education. Like others she has seen the positive effect of assistive technology on their educations.
Although she enjoys working with all children, she has a passion for helping children with disabilities develop communication skills and use them effectively. The field of assistive technology allows her to blend her current skills as a speech pathologist with a previous career as a software developer.
Out of the Box Accessibility Solutions has a number of clients. Drummond and his staff will not discuss who they are and what treatment they are receiving. ‘’We maintain strict privacy for our clients,” Drummond said.
What do teachers and parents say about Out of Box Accessibility Solutions mission?
Special Education teacher Sandra McNeil has taught in Pennsylvania, Virginia and Ohio says, “The program is desperately needed. If successful it can provide the disabled student with many opportunities that he or she might not have.”
Northern Virginia resident Wayne Preston is the father of two special needs children, He says, “My children need the type of school program developed by Mr. Drummond’s company.”
Kelly Marsh had a 10-year-old son with a severe speech disability. She says, “Ralph junior probably could benefit from the expertise and versatility that Out of the Box offers.
Lastly, Timothy Howard has twin sons. Both are 12-years-old. Both stutter and both have physical disabilities. He says, “Drummond may have something here. Schools don’t have after school programs for children with disabilities. This program could be a winner nationally.”
The company’s fees vary depending on the tasks.
Confidentiality is an important policy of Drummond’s. He and his staff will speak in generalities about their clients. However, Drummond and his staff will not mention the names of their clients and anything specific,
To contact the company regarding scheduling an evaluation click here.