Voice Symbol Software gives you the opportunity to create talking pictures activated by the simple touch of a V Pen. With this software you can actually design and print your own ‘talking paper’, communication boards and books, which can be accessed through the innovative V Pen. At Trabasack, we believe this pioneering technology is extremely revolutionary and the range of products available complement the V Pen is vast.
The V Pen itself is a radical new AAC learning support device which generates speech. It generates speech through reading sound codes from printer paper materials, thus creating the ‘talking paper’ that was previously mentioned, as well as communication boards and materials for teaching. This video shows the range of vocabulary that the V Pen can access
The V Pen is very easy to use and you simply touch the picture that corresponds with your thought to create the spoken voice. The communication boards are extremely useful for anybody who has reduced speech capabilities or is non-verbal and even better, they are a perfect fit for the Trabasack Mini Connect, which can be used as a tray to hold your communication board or cards. Using your Trabasack Mini Connect as a supportive lap tray whilst using your V Pen will mean you can easily access and touch the symbols at any given time.
The other important point to mentioned with the Trabasack Mini Connect is its “Connect” surface which acts as a great base for Velcro hooks meaning you can attached any laminated voice symbol software materials to your Trabasack and then you can access them more easily. Using your Trabasack Mini Connect in conjunction with your V Pen means you can communicate with ease.
A range of V – Pen products and bundles are available from Ability World.
Five Great Communication Apps for your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch
Apple’s position as one of the most popular, important and powerful computing and telecommunications companies cannot be disputed. Their range of devices from the original iPod to the more recent iPad and iPhone series are fantastically equipped to handle a huge range of apps and many of these can be used to significantly improve day to day life.
Many people thought Apple had designed their apps purely for entertainment and fun but there are many more uses for many of their great apps, most significantly for us, communication. At Trabasack for Communication Aids we are always looking for the latest and the best technology available to aid communication and make it more accessible. Here we’ve compiled five of the best communication apps currently available through the Apple App Store!
1 – Yes/No – a very simple communication app which is fantastic for simply answering questions. Yes/No allows the user to voice their preference to most questions with a yes or no answer. This app is fantastic for those with learning difficulties who may find open questions difficult and therefore are more confident and comfortable with simple answers.
2 – iCommunicate. – Grembe Inc. – a communication app which allows for simple expression of feelings through symbols and sounds. You can customise it with specific photos of your environment, for example you could put together a storyboard or social story photos of the individual with the disability doing their usual daily tasks. Like an interactive PECs system.
3 – TouchChat AAC with WordPower – Silver Kite – an app designed for those who have difficulty using their own voice. There are a range of set messages and sentences stored within TouchChat but you can also add your own if the non-verbal individual has particular favourite phrases or sentences they’re used to and also you can add their name to TouchChat’s vocabulary.
4 – Assistive Chat – assistive apps – much like TouchChat, Assistive Chat supports those who have difficulty using their own speech. It’s a much more affordable option and has a range of customisable settings including the voice it speaks in, the size of the font on the screen and also word prediction so keystrokes can be kept to a minimum.
5 – Grace – Picture Exchange for Non-Verbal People – an award winning app designed for non-verbal individuals. Developed for those on the autistic spectrum, Grace is designed to allow users to choose pictures to express their needs independently and in time, where possible, vocalise their needs alongside using the picture.
These are just five of the great communications apps on the market and we believe each one of them can be really useful for furthering independence and general life experiences!
If you’re lucky enough to own one of these great Apple devices, don’t forget how useful your Trabasack can be. The Trabasack Mini in particular is designed to perfectly fit an iPad 2 and it’s a brilliant storage space for any Apple device. Equally, the Trabasack tray surface gives you the option of somewhere safe and secure to rest your Apple device when not in use!
How to use Proloquo2Go on Your iPad
Proloquo2Go is the leading portable and affordable AAC communication app for iPads and other Apple devices. Proloquo2Go can significantly improve the communication for those who are non-verbal or who have difficulty finding the words they need in certain scenarios, for example when they’re over anxious or stressed.
A simple guide to how to use Proloquo2Go on your iPad.
Initially, you need to have a basic understanding of Apple technology, which is extremely intuitive and known for its basic and easy-accessibility. Proloquo2go is potentially very advanced technology but has some very basic features which have been known to aid even toddlers in their speech.
Firstly, you will see a grid or list of core types of word and speech that you can add to for example: Food and Drink, My Places and My Clothes. From these you can tap the items which are relevant to your sentence and they will appear in the message window. If you need to conjugate these words you can simply press down and the full range of conjugations comes up. This means you can say ‘I am hungry’ instead of ‘I be hungry’ for example. To speak your sentence, you simply tap the message window and it will be vocalised by your iPad. If it’s a sentence you feel you’ll use frequently, you can tap the plus (+) button and it will be added to the vocabulary in your iPad into the category of your choice. You can also recall recent speech items via the ‘Recent Views’ button and then you can repeat sentences from early in the day if you need to do, making it easy to have necessary commands and sentences stored.
This video gives some more information regarding Proloquo2Go:
This is a very basic outline of how Proloquo2go can be used but it can become an essential part of your daily life as it aids all communication and potentially socialisation. To ensure you can access your Proloquo2go app and in turn your iPad whilst out and about, it helps to have a specially designed iPad bag. The Trabasack Mini Connect is ideal as an iPad bag as it is perfectly designed to fit both iPad and iPad2 devices and is both secure and safe. In addition to its use as a bag you can use your Trabasack Mini Connect as a lap tray, which is extremely handy if you’re and about and you have a question or anything else to say. You can simply have your iPad resting on your Trabasack Mini Connect and access the sentences or phrases you want to use via Proloquo2go.
It is that simple and it can revolutionise your daily life, with the tap of a screen.
Click here for more ideas about communication apps and ipads
Using your Trabasack Mini Connect as an iTalk2 Bag
An iTalk2 is a very popular communication aid used in classrooms across the country and it’s a great way of helping people with limited communication or non-verbal individuals decide between two activities or simply saying yes or no. Such an essential piece of kit needs to be kept safe and this can be achieved with a Trabasack Mini Connect iTalk2 bag. The Trabasack Mini Connect is perfectly designed for keeping your iTalk2 safe and means it won’t be at risk from any damage.
The iTalk2 is an extremely simple piece of equipment which rests on angled base which further increases accessibility. It allows for two minutes of recording time and includes to Snap Switch Caps which allows for the individual using the device to make their choices. The Trabasack Mini Connect is also a great platform from which the device can be accessed. The Trabasack Mini Connect includes a lap tray surface on one side and a soft beanbag cushion on the other which means it can rest comfortably in the lap and be used as a level surface for the iTalk2.
The Trabasack Mini Connect also benefits from the Connect surface on its tray. This
means that the surface is particularly receptive to Velcro hooks and so you can attach items to the surface and be assured they won’t roll off or fall and be damaged. This makes the trabasack very useful for switch mounting, especially for children using buggies or wheelchairs. When using your Trabasack Mini Connect as a iTalk2 bag, there are multiple carry options available. You can strap it to your back, around your waist or use its carry handles to use it like a briefcase, this is entirely you decision. However you decide to carry it, you can be assured that your iTalk2 is fully protected and secure.
The below video gives some more info about the iTalk2 and its functionality:
Trabasack Mini: the perfect Inclusive Slate bag
The Inclusive Slate is a innovative and revolutionary piece of equipment and what’s more it’s affordable, accessible and easy to use. If you are lucky enough to own an Inclusive Slate, chances are you want to keep it safe and protect it from any potential damage. In addition to this, you want to be able to easily access it wherever you may be. With the Trabasack Mini, you can have both these functions in one product.
With a Trabasack Mini you get both a perfectly functional tablet bag for your Inclusive Slate and also a lap tray surface from which you can use and access it whenever you require. As an Inclusive Slate bag, the Trabasack Mini is a great choice because it’s the perfect size, looks great and can be carried in various different ways. These multiple carry options give you much more flexibility and you can choose to wear it as a backpack or as a messenger bag. As the Inclusive Slate is extremely lightweight and smaller than a piece of paper, it makes sense to protect it appropriately and with a Trabasack Mini bag you can do this.
The Trabasack Mini has another valuable function in its lap tray surface. This lap tray surface means you can use your Inclusive Slate wherever you are and as it is promoted for as a communication aid for struggling readers and writers, using your Inclusive Slate on a Trabasack Mini in a classroom is ideal. The Trabasack Mini surface is lipped which means your Inclusive Slate won’t slide off the edge and if you choose to use a Trabasack Mini Connect, the additional ‘Connect’ surface has an added benefit. With the ‘Connect’ surface, you can attach anything, including your Inclusive Slate, to your Trabasack Mini using Velcro hooks.
This gives a full product description and shows some of the great functions of the Inclusive Slate:
Introducing the new Lightwriter Swift
Toby Churchill Ltd, the innovative creators of the original Lightwriter, have launched an updated model this year and we’d like to give it a full introduction. The Lightwriter Swift is a brand newly designed and portable AAC device, the smallest device of its type in the world. Achieving text-to-speech communication from this small portable device could not be easier and to show off its quality, give consumers a chance to give it a test drive and so its manufacturers can answer your questions, the Lightwriter Swift is going on tour in January 2012.
In January, consumers will have the chance to try out the new Lightwriter Swift in four locations across the UK and it also gives you the chance to pose any questions to representatives of Toby Churchill Ltd including any feedback you may have about the new product. As well as touring the UK, the Lightwriter Swift will also be at ATIA 2012 in Orlando, giving the US market a chance to see the quality of this new innovative design.
During each UK tour stop, a designated Swift Café will be open from 10am until 8pm giving you plenty of time to put across any questions you may have and get a good feel for this new piece of kit. During the day Toby Churchill Ltd will also schedule three designated Lightwriter Swift Launch seminars giving you the chance to see it in action from the perspective of someone who knows the product inside out. To register for one of these Lightwriter Swift seminars you can do it online.
The Lightwriter Swift is going to make communication on the go even simpler and remember, the Trabasack Mini is perfectly designed to hold and protect your Lightwriter device when not in use and acts as a great level platform when you’re chatting or asking a question. Toby Churchill Ltd stocks our Trabasack Mini model and testify that it is a great choice for protecting and using your Lightwriter.
Use your Trabasack Mini as a Lightwriter Bag
Finding the right bag for your Lightwriter can be difficult. As your Lightwriter is obviously an essential and expensive piece of equipment you use for daily communication, you need to be sure the bag you use to store is able to keep it safe, secure and intact. With a Trabasack Mini or Trabasack Mini Connect, you will have no trouble keeping your Lightwriter in top condition and also be able to access it for communication as and when you require.
Your Trabasack Mini is the ideal Lightwriter Bag as its both compact and functional. It’s designed to hold all manner of devices and keeps them secure in its spacious bag compartment and if you want to utilise the Trabasack Mini’s tray surface, you’ll find it is the perfect size for a Lightwriter SL40, which means you can keep your Lightwriter on a secure and level surface when you have something to say. Additionally, if you opt to have the ‘Connect’ surface on your Trabasack Mini, your Lightwriter can be secured with Velcro hooks so there is no risk of it falling or getting damaged. This is a particularly good option for anybody who experiences tremors or physical tics.
The Trabasack Mini is designed to be comfortable on your back as a rucksack as well as on your lap as a tray but can also be carried in other ways. It can be carried as a messenger bag, like a briefcase and its long detachable carry straps can be used to make a waist strap too.
At Trabasack, we understand how essential equipment such as your Lightwriter can be and this is exactly why we have designed products like the Trabasack Mini to ensure you can keep your most valuable possessions safe and sound in a perfectly designed Lightwriter Bag. The second tray function of the Trabasack just makes it even more practical as you can access your Lightwriter whenever you need.
Below is a video looking more in depth in Lightwriters and their benefits:
For more info and to visit the main trabasack site click this link Lightwriter bag
Honduran Electronics-Whizz Creates Homemade Eye-Tracking Computer Interface
Honduran teenager Luis Cruz has used his electronics and programming know-how to create a new homemade eyeball tracker. The device allows users with motor disabilities to enter text into their computer with eye movements as opposed to keystrokes. The device, known as the Eyeboard system, is not a new concept but Cruz has taken things a step further, he’s managed to create a pair of spectacles including his technology for an affordable price (less than £200). The hope is that this homemade eyetracker will mean easier communication will become affordable in developing countries and areas where those with such needs may have no means of communication currently.
A hands-free eye-tracking controlled computer can truly revolutionise the lives of people with specific motor disabilities. It can be the easiest and most effective aid to communication for these individuals and Cruz’ technology is further widening the access to communication aids. Up until this point, eyeball tracking computer interfaces have been too expensive for most, retailing at over £6,000. If Cruz’ can get this new development made as cheaply for others it is really going to help people who need eye-tracking equipment around the world.
Over the last twelve months Cruz has been refining and perfecting the Eyeboard system. His system uses some very specific scientific and electronics formulae to result in the basic eye-ball tracking computer interface. Cruz’ system is extremely basic, hence its cheap cost but it allows for letters to be input via eye movement rather than typed in which is a big achievement for a very affordable software system. Cruz developed both the hardware device and the software system needed to turn the eye movements into letters and therefore communication.
Open Source Eye Gaze Technology
The Eyeboard system is a very new development and not yet widely available. Despite this, Cruz is confident he can produce the hardware cheaply, with his prototype spectacles costing under £200. He’s also decided to release his software as open source to speed up development of tools to further speed up users’ communication. Cruz’ development is groundbreaking and is something that can hopefully be rolled out to significantly improve the communication and daily lives of people across the world.
This video further explains Cruz’ homemade eyetracker device and how beneficial it can be for the future of communication:
News from the USA: Voting by iPad
A new way of voting using an iPad has been trialed in the USA. In an interesting way of making voting more accessible they are using iPad for people with disabilities to make it easier for them to vote.
In Oregon, USA they’re thinking innovatively for their up and coming election as reports show that they’re planning to pilot an iPod voting program.
This new program will allow residents of the state who have disabilities and mobility problems the chance to vote via an iPad. The hope is that by providing an iPad to vote, this will alleviate the problems for people who have previously had issues marking their ballot papers. The new program will allow for a ballot to be pulled up on the iPad screen and the user can simply tap the screen to vote for their chosen candidate. They could also use a ‘sip and puff device’ if they could not use their fingers. The ballot paper can then be printed, it’s as simple as that. The ballot can then be posted by mail just like any other postal vote.
A range of devices were tested by the US state before they opted for the iPad as their chosen voting tablet. Officials explained that it was the simplest and most user friendly device tested. Oregon have been gifted five iPads by Apple and the software was developed by the state IT workers. There are also plans to allow voters to connect the iPad, using Bluetooth, to their own joysticks, paddles and other preferred assistive technology devices using Bluetooth technology. They can also adjust font sizes and screen display options to give even better accessibility.
This new innovation is being piloted in Oregon but we think that if it is successful then it could be considered for people in the UK. Postal votes were introduced here to enable people to vote who find it difficult to visit a Polling Station. However, Postal votes rely on someone to be able to open an envelope and use fine motor skills to write on ballot papers and return them. For people with significant disabilities this is still an issue and there is also the issue of ensuring that the vote is cast as they wish, even when it is done by a carer or relative. There has also been many cases where postal votes have been used in postal vote fraud. In the last General Election 2010 more than 30 allegations of postal vote irregularities at different boroughs were reported to the police. So the current system has been tarnished by abuse and corruption.
The use of an iPad for voting could be hugely beneficial by allowing for more independence and privacy in voting for those with significant disabilities who may have needed support to vote or indeed have not voted at all before. A vote could be cast using an iPad or other communication device, with appropriate checks made to ensure the authenticity of the user.
Hopefully, the iPad voting pilot in Oregon will be success and will contribute to other governments efforts to increase the options and ease of voting for people with communication difficulties or significant disabilities.