About "I love Assistive Technology"

Meet “Mr. P” a 35 year old, nonverbal male with a medical diagnosis of quadriplegic athetoid cerebral palsy who uses a combination of “no-tech” and “high-tech” augmentative-alternative communication (AAC) strategies.

The goal of this video and the associated articles, are to teach about augmentative-alternative communication (AAC) by providing clear examples of how Mr. P is able to communicate using various forms of AAC.

Mr. P uses “no-tech” AAC methods including a combination of eye blinks to answer ‘yes/no’ questions, gestures and a picture communication board accessed through partner assisted visual scanning. Mr. P also uses “high-tech” AAC; specifically, a dynamic display voice output communication device accessed via single switch scanning.

I will first describe the “no-tech” AAC methods that Mr. P uses and later, I will describe his “high-tech” AAC system and how he is able to use it.

As demonstrated in the “I Love Assistive Technology” video, Mr. P is able to answer yes/no questions by opening his eyes to answer “yes” and by closing his eyes to answer “no.” While there are obvious limitations to this system (e.g., being restricted to ‘yes/no’ questions, people guessing what you are trying to say and communication partners that may not understand your responses) the benefit of the system is that it is always accessible and Mr. P does not have to rely on others to set up equipment for him.

In addition to an eye blink based communication system, Mr. P uses a “lap tray communication board,” containing over 100 picture symbols. Due to physical limitations, he is unable to point to pictures himself and thus, he must rely on his communication partners to point to the pictures in an agreed upon pattern with an agreed upon method of selecting symbols. This access method is called partner assisted visual scanning.

The “high-tech” AAC device Mr. P uses is the ECO-14 manufactured by the Prentke Romich Company. He accesses the ECO-14 through a method of selection called scanning and uses a single switch positioned at his temple and a 4 quadrant column/row scanning pattern. Mr. P uses the Unity 45 1-hit language system (which comes pre-programmed with the ECO-14) to generate novel sentences one word at a time.

In summary, Mr. P uses a variety of AAC methods to communicate but only his “high-tech” voice output communication device enables him to truly communicate independently. While accessing this device may be slower and more labor intensive; he reports that it is worth the effort to be able to express his thoughts with less interpretation from his communication partners.

To learn more about the "high tech" AAC seen in this video, read my article,"Example of Single Switch Scanning to Access A Dynamic Display Voice Output Communication Device"

To learn more about partner assisted visual scanning, read my article,"What is Partner Assisted Visual Scanning?"

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