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URI student finds unique way to overcome cerebral palsy

By Audrey O'Neil
On March 5, 2012

  • Former University of Rhode Island men’s basketball coach Jim Baron. Teresa Kelly


Whether it is writing a paper, taking notes or just chatting on Facebook, college students spend a majority of their time using computers. University of Rhode Island sophomore Andrew Pilkington uses his computer as much as any other college student.

But instead of relying on his hands to control the keyboard and mouse, he relies on his nose. Being born with cerebral palsy, Pilkington uses a wheel chair and does not have complete use of his fingers or arm movements.

In eighth grade, Pilkington decided that he wanted to learn how to use a computer independently . He began using his ear to control the mouse and keyboard, but he said it was very uncomfortable. As he continued to learn, Pilkington found that if the keyboard was elevated, he could use his nose. Now, instead of using an ordinary mouse, he has a mouse that resembles a video game joy stick which enables him to use his feet to control it.

Pilkington also depends on his nose to type all of his documents, even when texting on his iPhone.

"What's great about this simple technology is that it gives people with disabilities an opportunity to compete in today's workforce and completely assimilate into today's society -- it really breaks down the wall," Pilkington said.

Having attended the Sundance Film Festival every year since he was in eighth grade, Pilkington has developed a love for film. Pilkington began to write and edit films in high school and completed his first film during his senior year. The film was focused on his high school and was aired on a local television station.

At URI, Pilkington majors in films studies and enjoys writing. He is also the president of Ruby Andromedia Productions, a television and media production company that focuses on producing independent films.

Not only is he involved through his film making endeavors, Pilkington is also very active in the university community and was recently elected as the at-large representative for the Student Senate. He plans on continuing to make films and his major goal is to someday have one of his films submitted to the Sundance Film Festival. "I have many goals that I would like to achieve," Pilkington said, "but I'm just taking it one step at a time."

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