Posted on 07/06/2018
As a communication disability charity, our job is to provide speech aids for the disabled who are affected by incoherent speech or are non-verbal. For those who don’t live with conditions or know somebody who does, it can be a confusing concept. When most people think of communication devices they think of our late patron Professor Stephen Hawking, who used eye gaze technology to help control what his speech generating machine was vocalising. Although he used a very advanced communication device, its functionality is similar to the devices that we are able to provide. Read on to learn more about the most typical devices we supply.
These devices are the most commonly supplied communication devices for disabled people and look much like a traditional tablet, but they are loaded with software for the user to communicate with. A grid is filled with words and phrases accompanied by pictures and preset categories for forming sentences. Most modern models of the Grid Pad order high-frequency vocabulary at the top of the page, which when selected expands into other menus such as next word prediction, core verb links and symbols.
The oldest form of communication device, a Lightwriter is a switch and keyboard-based device whereby a user types out sentences that are then relayed through an automated voice. Most models on the market today have a dual screen display, one the user can see and another that those being communicated with can read from in noisy environments. A Lightwriter also comes with the ability for users to message bank and create their own abbreviations in order to reduce the amount of switch-pressing necessary to convey a message.
Eye gaze technology can be used to describe two sorts of communication device. It can take the form of a traditional tablet, installed with Grid Pad software but rather than the user interacting via the touch screen, eye gaze technology within the tablet tracks eye movements, using these to make selections. Alternatively, it can describe external technology that can be attached to other assistive technologies and used in the same way, turning the eyes into the navigators.
Most of these speech aids also feature environmental control, Bluetooth capabilities and can connect to the internet, allowing users the freedom to talk to others in numerous ways, browse the web and control their environments.