Augmentative communication and cerebral palsy, and assistive technology are often spoken about interchangeably. As I understand it, augmentative communication is meant to refer to technology that will give people who otherwise have difficulty speaking due to illness or disability a voice. I personally equate assistive technology to things like reacher’s to help you reach for things and other physical items that make living with a physical disability or other impairment easier.
I think often times this all gets confused in the realm of cerebral palsy because a lot of people with cerebral palsy use both forms of technology. I am happy to help by means of clarifying the differences between the two forms of technology and I am personally excited to see the advancements and allow people have the flexibility and independence in their lives. There are a vast variety of options available in both forms of augmentative and assistive technologies, some are even considered mainstream now.
An example of an assistive technology that I currently use as Dragon NaturallySpeaking voice recognition software that today is considered mainstream technology. When I began to use in 1996 however, it was almost considered elitist given the price point and was mainly used by doctors and lawyers to help them a more efficient and productive in a more timely manner. Another advantage of the time was it prevented errors of accuracy due to poor penmanship.
I began using it because it allowed me the ability to get my thoughts down on paper independently and in a more timely manner than it previously been possible because of my cerebral palsy. I began using it as a child, and that time it was rare for a child to use this kind of technology. Now, it is more readily accessible, less expensive, and user-friendly.
There are several apps that allow you to do voice recognition dictation with your smart phone which is another way how I dictate blog posts. Using Google’s built-in microphone along with an app like Evernote on most of today’s smartphones, one can dictate a blog post much like I am doing right now. This allows you to be more efficient on the go. I either use the Evernote and Google option or I use Dragon NaturallySpeaking like I am right now. Both can take a little bit of getting used to but allow you the ability to type at the speed one talks, therefore making you more productive. Because most people talk at a faster rate than the physical type.
Augmentative communication on the other hand gives those really don’t have the ability to speak on their own a voice. Their speech may be unclear due to disability or stroke and therefore augmentative communication devices such as the Dyna Vox offer them a means to clear and concise communication that they otherwise would not have. There are of course other devices instead of the Dyna Vox that do a similar purpose but I’ve never used one or seen it in action and therefore am only really familiar with the Dyna Vox.
The point I am trying to make is that technology can truly open up the world of communication both by giving a faster means of typing output, and by giving a means of communication to those who would otherwise struggle to verbally get there very basic needs across to others.
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