As part of Microsoft’s commitment to diversity and empowerment, we’re thrilled to celebrate Women’s History Month with our newest spotlight series. We’ve asked local women leaders to write a letter to their teenage and college-aged selves to recall a moment in time when they felt empowered by technology. Throughout the month of March, we’ll be spotlighting this series on our blog. We hope these stories uplift you and inspire you to #MakeWhatsNext.
You are sixteen years old right now. Life is rough; you don’t have many friends. You are doing a great job going to teachers for moral support. You’re actually starting to prepare for your motivational speaking career by being on the high school speech team. Yes, you have a motivational speaking career starting your junior year of college. It’s amazing and your DynaVox stays crucial to you and how independent you are. It is truly your voice. It lets you take a public speaking course in college, join a sorority, and engage in Elmhurst College’s campus ministry. I guess that would be a spoiler alert that you end up at Elmhurst College!
There have been many moments in your life that you have felt empowered by technology. As one could probably guess, when people first meet you at any age they talk to you as if you have a cognitive disability. I know, it’s frustrating now and it’s still incredibly frustrating at 26. You can bet every time you break that stereotype, you feel so empowered and it’s because of technology. You can use your DynaVox and shatter that preconceived notion. That is technology empowering you at sixteen — and now as a young woman.
You make meaningful, lasting relationships in college. Due to assistive technology, you are a powerful voice on campus. You end up taking that persona and going out in the world and you have only begun to make a difference. At 26, you are changing the world just by being independent in your own community and you start working at Easter Seals DuPage and the Fox Valley Region. Eventually, you end up as an advocate for the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation.
You are sixteen; focus on doing well on the ACT, speech team, and keeping your spirits up. You are brave, intelligent, and authentic. Keep being beautiful!
Hannah at 26 years old!
Hannah Thompson is a recent graduate from Elmhurst College with a B.A. in Communication. She is a motivational speaker encouraging people to do their impossible. Hannah has Cerebral Palsy and a movement disorder called Dystonia. The Cerebral Palsy affects her balance and her ability to walk and speak. She utilizes various assistive technology to improve her productivity and assure her success. She uses a DynaVox to communicate daily, and it has also played a critical role in support of her motivational speaking career. With the use of Intellikeys, Hannah accesses her laptop commands efficiently. Along with these critical tools, Hannah uses software such as WordQ and Kurzweil to assist her in succeeding in college and now in her career.