It's an exciting time to be working in the field of Assistive Technology as scientific and technological advancements have allowed us to continually find new and better solutions for those who are challenged by a disability. One area that we've been increasingly helping our clients with is augmented communication.
Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Devices
Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices are tools to help people who struggle with speech. These may be simple letter or picture boards or sophisticated computer-based systems. Assistive AAC technology helps someone to communicate as effectively as possible, in as many situations as possible. Some reasons that people might struggle with speech include:
Paralysis and Motor-loss
Multiple Sclerosis/ALS/Motor Neuron Disease
There are many devices and apps for phone and face-to-face communication that are designed for individuals who do not speak at all or who find speaking very challenging. There is a great article on the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) website about the breadth of augmented and alternative communication devices.
Some Frequently Installed Devices
Tobii Dynavox I-Series
Our team has helped some speech-challenged individuals better communicate with the Tobii Dynavox I-Series.
The I-Series is an eye gaze-enabled speech generating device that allows users to choose messaging with their eyes that the device then vocalizes to others. The I-Series is devices designed for people with conditions such as cerebral palsy, ALS or spinal cord injury.
The MegaBee Assisted Communication and Writing Tablet
This AAC device is designed specifically for users are unable to use most of their body’s voluntary muscles.
The device is actually held by the listener who looks through the opening in the center of the device to view the direction of the user’s eye movements. A series of colored buttons allows the listener to push them as the user moves his or her eyes, first at one of six colored blocks, and then at a specific color (representing a letter) within that block. The goal is to spell out what the user wants to say onto the LCD screen.
The device also features a shorthand option, so the user and listener can come up with a personal set of abbreviations for their most commonly used terms. For those with low cognitive or literacy skills, the MegaBee also operates in a picture mode.
GoTalk Express 32 Communicator
The GoTalk Express 32 from Attainment Company is similar to the I-Series tablet except that users push buttons to trigger audible words in order to better communicate. The GoTalk Express 32 Communicator is rugged, attractive and has great sound quality. It features surround-message LEDs for visual prompts, an option to add a one-and-half second auditory cue to any message and the remarkable ability to seamlessly play multiple messages in sequence.
Get in Touch with an Augmented Communication Expert at Northwest Ergonomics & Assistive Technology
AAC users need support and to learn how to use communication aids. Carers and professionals need training to be able to provide this support. Don't make the mistake of trying to "self-install" and "learn" how to use these tools.
The skilled training that our specialists provide greatly enhance the effectiveness of the device, and greatly increase the enjoyment of all users.
Our specialists will consult with you to understand your specific needs and provide solutions that really work. It is important to our caring specialists that you really get the benefit of these wonderful advancements in technology. For that reason we specialize in training and follow-up to make sure that everything is working as effectively as possible for you. We help people of all ages who have experienced an injury or other disability.
To contact us, use the form on our contact page, or call 206-707-8830