August 13, 2013 –
By Roxana Ryan
As posted on IllinoisBroadband.org.
Children with special needs in Southeast Central Illinois now have access to better care thanks to a high-speed internet connection and an innovative speech language pathologist.
With an award from the Broadband Innovation Fund, Sarah Weiler launched a “telepractice” program at the clinic she founded in Newton, Ill. She first upgraded the internet connection, allowing clinical specialists from around Illinois (and the world) to visit with her patients in the Newton, Ill area. Weiler also was able to purchase professional-grade teleconferencing equipment that helped enable a clear, robust connection for communicating.
“We’re kind of a geographical oddity here in Newton,” Weiler said. “Since we’re located about two hours from everything, many parents aren’t able to travel to consult with specialists or seek out the care their child with special needs might have.”
With a connection to high-speed internet, Weiler has set up one-on-one virtual consultations with specialists and also offered a “Speaker Series” on different topics relating to disabilities and children with special needs for the entire community.
“Our Speaker Series attracted many area families seeking to learn more about everything from learning disabilities to autism,” Weiler said. “We had a full house for many of the talks and allowed time for question and answer sessions at the end.”
Weiler said the upgraded internet connection has also helped her manage the business side of her practice more effectively.
“I’m able to keep up with clients, research new opportunities and work on community outreach efforts in ways that I just couldn’t do before,” she said.