The first assistive technology I tried was a Boogie Board
It is a cool LCD writing board where you write with a stylus and erase with the push of a button, which makes it more convenient than pen and paper. Sometimes other people get a hold of it.
The next assistive technology I used was an Android app on my phone called Speech Assistant. It has a wide variety of downloadable Google voices and customizable categories. I still use this because sometimes all I have with me is my phone.
I thought that was really cool, and then I found something cooler!
I work as an elementary school administrative secretary and school districts are very adept at complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because of working with disabled students. I had to fill out some paperwork and get a letter from UCSF about my diagnosis. I then met with my principal, the district Risk Manager, and the head of labor relations about what I qualify for under ADA. They arranged for me to meet with an Assistive Technology Specialist for the school district.
Robbin Dunn met me at my office and she was wonderful.
She showed me an iPad program for text to speech that blows away the app on my phone. It’s called ProLoquo4Text and has unlimited phrases and unlimited accounts
I currently have a loaner iPad from Robbin’s department. I have been able to set up a work account and a home account and even a Spanish speaking account since I have loved speaking Spanish since high school. My only complaint is that the selection of voices is limited. The program was created in the Netherlands and even the so called American voices have an accent.
We had another meeting on Thursday this week with the same group plus Robbin to determine what the District will buy for me. I feel very fortunate to be working at a place where this is available. They are going to buy me an iPad Mini and the ProLoquo4Text program as well as a case and keyboard that I get to choose.
It has been challenging getting used to typing conversations. Often when I am done typing my comment the conversation has moved on to the next subject already. And holding conversation during meals is hard too. I have gotten comments from people such as, “that’s really cool” or “that’s interesting” I can tell it makes some people very uncomfortable I am an introvert and usually pretty quiet anyway.
The reflections make it hard to see. It says, “Hi, I’m Meg “.
I had a chance to practice with my iPad last weekend in Las Vegas for my father in law’s 85th birthday – more love and connection even if by artificial voice.
Then I heard about something even cooler. A teacher I work with ran into some guys from a startup in the Bay area called Vocasso. When she heard what they are creating, she put me in touch.
Here is the description from Ryan McVicker:
Vocasso is the human-machine interface that enables seamless integration with the digital world. Our core technology, the Vocasso soundless microphone, not only produces speech for mute Stroke survivors, it enables users to interact with digital devices without making a sound. Simply put on our headset, connect via Bluetooth to a smartphone or PC, and the words you mouth let you soundlessly control all of your digital devices. To find out how this cutting-edge technology will shape the future of communication, visit http://www.vocasso.com.
It will be interesting to see how it will work for ALS patients who have limited use of their mouths to even mouth words. But it sure sounds cool!
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