Colby Tiberg/Courtesy of Chuck Greeson

Colby Tiberg/Courtesy of Chuck Greeson

Professor Jackie Gaffner’s education class, Computers as a Classroom Tool, had a young guest speaker April 30.

The guest speaker, Colby Tiberg, 10, is a third-grade boy who was diagnosed with a rare disorder called Koolen-de Vries Syndrome which limits his speech. He overcomes his disorder by using technology.

According to the website Genetics Home Reference: Your Guide to Understanding Genetic Conditions at www.ghr.nlm.nih.gov, Koolen-de Vries Syndrome is characterized by developmental delay and mild to moderate intellectual disability.

Gaffner said she met Colby and his family while attending her daughter’s Spelling Bee contest at Jewel Elaine Vandagriff Elementary School in Aledo, Texas. Colby also attends Vandagriff Elementary and participated in the Spelling Bee using his DynoVox, a multifunctional technological device designed to help individuals with disabilities communicate.

Gaffner said she was amazed when she saw Colby spelling with the DynoVox.

“It was such a neat experience,” Gaffner said.

Following the Spelling Bee, Gaffner went to Colby’s parents to introduce herself and ask if they would agree to serve as guest speakers in one of her education classes that focuses on the use of technology as an educational tool. The family agreed and arrived with two additional guests, Colby’s principal, Deborah Cano, and his school teacher, Elizabeth Allcon.

Colby’s mother, Patty Tiberg, said Colby was diagnosed at age 4. Prior to his diagnosis, Colby was a part of the program KinderFrogs at Texas Christian University. He remained in the program from age 1 and a half to age 6. As stated in their website, www.kinderfrogs.tcu.edu, the focus of the program is to provide research, training and service predominantly in children with disabilities. Patty said KinderFrogs was the first place where Colby was introduced to technology as a communication tool.

“Technology has been a part of Colby for so long,” Patty said. “It’s just been really amazing.”

After Patty discussed Colby’s background with the class, Allcon, Colby’s teacher, went through Colby’s regular school routine to demonstrate the DynoVox in use.

Colby began his routine by introducing himself through the DynoVox saying, “Hi, my name is Colby from Mrs. H’s class.” He then asked everyone to stand and say the Pledge of Allegiance. Colby and Ms. Allcon showed how the DynoVox functions by using it for math problems, reading out loud, and practicing his spelling.

Allcon said the DynoVox is an important part of Colby.

“This is his voice,” Allcon said. “This is his expressive language.”

Mark Georges, early childhood education and Spanish double major, said technology is a vital part of education these days.

“There’s a connection the student can make with technology,” Georges said. “I think if you don’t incorporate technology in the classroom you limit how you can reach the students.”

Georges also said he liked how involved Colby’s teachers and principal were in his education.

“Everybody needs to be on the same page,” Georges said. “It’s important to explore every option in educating students to help that student grow.”

agarcia@txwes.edu