Using My Life to Build a Digital Portfolio

I met Dorothy Miller for the first time a few months ago. She’s young and beautiful and has the kind of optimism and enthusiasm one might expect from a person about to enter the workforce. Dorothy wants to make the world a better place, starting with children.

Due to her dysarthria, Dorothy uses the TouchChat program on her iPad to communicate with staff and students in her first year at the local community college. Dorothy’s ultimate goal is to receive her early elementary teaching certification.

Over the past year, Dorothy has been using the My Life app to track both her educational accomplishments and her many hours of community service volunteering at local elementary schools and childcare centers.

Also included in Dorothy’s My Life page are current employment skills, letters of staff recommendation, and a video presentation that demonstrating her sign language abilities and her love for children and animals. The tool also allows Dorothy to add personal journal entries, similar to a blog post but linked to her overall portfolio.

Dorothy has given us permission to share some of her entries with you. Look for more updates and information on the My Life app in the near future.

To my team

At the age 22, I can look back at my life and I can see how much my team was there for me through all of my education. I have been in special education since I was a baby through 21: Early childhood, the K-12 inclusion program, and the Connection Transition program. Now, I am taking my first term at Lane Community College and working with the Center for Accessible Resources. I just got back from my second presentation. This weekend’s conference was in Hood River, Oregon with Oregon Association of Vocational Special Needs Personnel, Tobi Rickard and Josh Barbour. We talked to transition specialists about My Life portfolios could how valuable and powerful they are. I realized how much the people who have worked with me over the years and helped to get me where I am today.

    • To Tobi Rickard: Thank you for helping me to create this wonderful tool and bringing me to the events.
    • To Patty Parks: Thank you for helping me to find my career path, if without for you I will be lost in world.
    • To Tom Schramm: Thank you for helping me how to communicate with Touch Chat, picking out my iPad, and getting my computer.
    • To Adelka Shawn: Thank you for encouraging me to communicate with teachers, friends, interpreters, and to advocate for myself.
    • To Kelly Wilson: Thank you for encouraging me to use the augmentative communication devices.
    • To all of the Connections Teachers: Thank you for being there for me, and helping me to transition me to adulthood.
    • To Tom Keating: Thank you for creating the Cognitopia project and for inviting me to be the first student to create a My Life portfolio. This is opening many minds and doors for me. I look forward to working with you more.
    • To Mentor Oregon: Thank you for working with me to problem solve my barriers in my life.
    • CDRC: You guys are big part of my life. Your therapists and services helped me live to my potential.

How My Life Works for Me

I am not a follower, I like doing things at my own time. Last year, I did my own project for a resume with a teacher. It is called a digital portfolio, My Life. It helps people who have a hard time recalling a lot of important information at once. I did it for my resume because people look at my disability first; it is a road block. I told my other teachers what

I was doing and they acted like they didn’t care about the digital portfolio. This year, all of the students are starting up with their own digital portfolios. My old teacher told me “we are following you”. I am the first person to create “My Life” portfolio. That makes me feel proud.


Dorothy meets Poca, the unofficial Cognitopia greeter.

Dorothy meets Poca, the unofficial Cognitopia greeter.

About Julie Henning

Julie Henning has been with Cognitopia since 2015. In that time, she has been involved in customer support, training, marketing, documentation, social media, and data collection. Some of her favorite projects have been mentoring our videographer intern, Nate, and weekly classroom testing and curriculum development for the many students in the 4J Connections Transition program. She works closely with Eugene-based SLLEA (Smart Living, Learning & Earning with Autism) to integrate Cognitopia’s self-management tools into the organization and structure design input and support platform implementation. Professionally, Julie has over twenty years’ experience working in engineering, technology, software development, and journalism; a path made possible with two degrees in Technical Communication: a BS from the Milwaukee School of Engineering and a MS from Colorado State University. A single mom of three high schoolers (grades 9, 10, and 11), Julie has introduced Cognitopia to terms such as “sick” and “yeet,” while overseeing the office coffee consumption. In her free time, she enjoys playing recreational soccer, improv comedy, and traveling.

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