Tag Archives: technology

Using Technology to Communicate

1Being able to communicate is something that most people take for granted. The only experience of relentless communication breakdown most people can relate to is being a tourist in a foreign country. In this situation, gestures and facial expression are often used in the absence of a shared language.

aImagine being in a country where you understood everyone, but no one understood you. Imagine trying to get your message across without the use of mime or gestures. Imagine the frustration you would feel.

For people like Rus, imagination isn’t required. This is their day to day experience.

Luckily, much like for a wildly gesticulating tourist, technology can open many doors to more effective communication for people with communication support needs. Rus has Cerebral Palsy and experiences difficulty controlling his body movements. As a result, his speech can be hard to understand and he is unable to use a keyboard or a phone.

Rus takes advantage of a number of technologies to help him communicate. He uses his computer with the help of a pointer, which he straps to his head. He also has a modified mouse. This allows him to browse the net, send emails and use social media.

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Rus using a pointer and modified mouse to operate his computer

With the help of the Inner South Regional Communication Service, Rus has recently received an Allora 2 (a text to speech device) to help people in the community understand him more easily. Since he can’t directly use the keyboard, Rus uses a tread switch, which allows him to control the device using his foot. He types messages which are displayed on the screen and spoken aloud by the device. According to Rus, one of the best features of the Allora is the ability to send and receive text messages. “I like being able to text my family and friends or book a taxi. Before that, I used to get my carer to book a taxi for me. It has changed my life. I can go anywhere in the community and get a taxi. I am more independent, I feel more confident and safer”.

For many, new technologies offer added convenience to their day. For others, technology provides so much more – independence and confidence. In a world where technology is improving at a rapid rate, it is exciting to consider what the future has in store.

By Katrina McNamara

Inner South Regional Communication Service

Supporting technology development within Grampians

On the 24th of November, Grampians Regional Communication Service was invited to attend the Ballarat Digital Hub Adaptive Technology and Apps Event at Central Highlands Library. This was a new initiative which saw providers from Vision Australia, Hearing Australia, Yooralla, SCOPE, Quantum and Pinarc Disability Support come together with trade displays and be available for individual consultations or information sessions.

Pinarc expo standGrampians RCS took up this fantastic opportunity to promote the use of both high and low technology for people with complex communication needs. It further allowed us to network with other agencies from not only around the region but also state and nationwide. On the day Grampians RCS was able to showcase various examples of communication apps for the iPad including speech generating apps, choice making apps, and scheduling and timetabling apps.

 

We also had many people interested in the recently released Tools 2 Talk app to assist them in generating visual supports. It was great to see many family members of people with communication difficulties attending to explore the wide range of apps available.

The central highlands library staff rated this expo as being successful and reported they would like for it to be established as an annual event in the future. Grampians RCS are currently in talks with the library about how they can further support the use of technology for people with communication difficulties including technology being freely available in the library with particular apps for the community to trial.

By Megan Nestor