Posts Tagged ‘aac communication’

Communication Aids for the Elderly

Communication Aids for Older People

As we age many of us succumb to conditions and the natural effects of ageing which means communication and the use of other faculties becomes difficult. From macular degeneration to dementia, many conditions can affect communication and finding communication aids and devices for the elderly is a sensible move when looking to ensure quality of life is maintained. Obviously depending on the particular issues faced by the individual elderly person in question the requirements from a communication device will differ. The communication devices that we look are particularly valuable to the older people and can make a huge different to daily life.

Due to conditions such as dementia causing a decline in cognitive abilities, modern technologies are usually avoided when considering communication aids for the elderly. There is nothing to say that some people may be capable of communicating via an electronic AAC device in most instances introducing this new technology would just provide more confusion, hence the devices mentioned below being quite simplistic in comparison to many on the market.

Menuboard

Menu Board Communication Device

A simple, communicative menuboard

Simple and straightforward, Menuboard allows an elderly person who may have become non-verbal or has non-verbal periods to put across what they want to eat. Obviously eating is a basic human right and choosing your own meals is something integral to remaining independent. Alternatively, this board can be used in a care home environment to signify to groups of elderly people what’s arranged for meal times.

Aquapaint

Aquapaint has been developed specifically for those living with dementia and is designed to promote conversation and communication through art therapy. Not only do they promote communication, water-based aqua paints are able to provide endless stimulation and the finished product can instil a sense of pride in individuals who are struggling to deal with the rapid onset of the disease.

We’d also suggest users trying out Aquapaints could consider a Trabasack lap tray as the perfect painting surface, especially when topped with a Trabasack non-slip mat, keeping the surface of the lap tray perfectly clean thanks to the non-slip mat’s protective covering. The Trabasack sits comfortably on your lap without exerting pressure and provides the perfect portable table.

This video shows Aquapaint in action:

Talking Mats

Talking Mats Communication Device

Talking Mats Low-Tech Communication Aid

Talking Mats are a further low-tech communication device, simply comprising pictures, words and the requirement of the individual to point out or nod towards their specific request or requirement. They can help with the expression of feelings as well as giving directions and are extremely simple, providing an anxiety-free communication method without the need to worry about modern technology.

These are just thee communication devices which could benefit the older people. There are many more on the market which may suit individuals and of course, each person has their own personal requirements, strengths and weaknesses  so may suit a different type of device altogether.

Communication Aids for Deaf People

Communication Aids for Deaf People

Living with a hearing impairment can make communication difficult. In most instances those living with a severe degree of deafness learn some form of sign language which makes communicating with their family, friends and other deaf people much easier. Unfortunately the rest of the population are less likely to use any form of signing. However, there are a range of devices developed for deaf people, allowing them to communicate more easily when signing isn’t possible.

Below are some communication devices which could be useful to those living with hearing impairment or even profound deafness. Please note, the development of modern technologies, especially in telecommunication means many of these devices may seem defunct but this isn’t necessarily so as every individual is different.

VV-Talker.

The VV-Talker is a wonderful gadget that could enhance the interaction abilities of deaf children as they learn to talk. Deaf youngsters hold the device against their throats and it provides feedback vibrations, helping them to ‘hear’ their attempts at speech. It also has a visual display so they can see the sounds they are making as a sound graph on a screen. This helps them to improve their speech by producing vocal vibrations that are comparable to those shown on the display.

A child using a device that helps deaf children learn to talk

More infomation about the VV talker can be found by clicking the image. Photo credit: Yanko Design

Induction loop systems

Hearing loops are now common in public buildings. They produce amplified sound using an electric field, that can then be picked up by a device used by a deaf person. Often it is by changing a setting on a hearing aid to ‘T’.

Hearing Loop Systems in the Home

In the, you might install a loop system so that the sound from your tv, hi-fi or radio could be amplified. A loop could also be used with a microphone so that you could be able to pick up a conversation with someone close by in an otherwise noisy place. Induction Loop Systems can now be bought online for the home and need no specialist knowledge to set up or install.

 

Amplified Phones

An Amplified Telephone is a fantastic option for those living with a degree of hearing impairment. They’re designed to ensure that you can hear more clearly as the volume can be increased much higher than that on a regular telephone. What’s more, many also feature additional features including one-touch dialling and spaces for photographs of individuals so numbers don’t need to be remembered and you can simply press the corresponding button.

ClearText Textphone

Textphones are available to those who are unable to used amplified telephones and the Cleartext model featured in the video below is one of the simplest on the market, making communication simple and fast. Featuring a large screen and buttons, communication via text can be quick and efficient. It also automatically inserts the prefix number for TypeTalk which allows for text communication with many companies making it easy to use for professional purposes as well as personal.

The below video explains more about this item:

Communication Uses for Mainstream Technologies

Communication device web cam

Skype Compatible WebCam

Of course plenty of technologies developed for regular usage can be adapted and used easily for communication for deaf people.

You may not need a textphone if you have a mobile phone for example, as you can send messages without difficulty. Similarly, the Skype free internet calls service is ideal if used in conjunction with  Skype compatible webcams. This video capacity removes the need for text as deaf people can communicate as if face to face using their sign language although there is still the option to include text messages.

These types of communication are best accessed using a laptop or tablet, allowing for easy communication wherever you may be. Additionally, to provide a sturdy surface so the user doesn’t need to keep hold of their laptop or feel it wobble on their laps, we’d suggest using a Trabasack lap tray. The Trabasack provides the sturdy, level surface you need, allowing conversation to flow via your computer screen and cam without fail. What’s more if you opt to use a Trabasack Media Mount you can also position your devices exactly where you need them. As Mark Mayer who describes himself as  “Hard of Hearing with cerebral palsy” and who is chairman of a children’s charity, Worster-Drought Syndrome Support Group,  http://www.wdssg.org.uk/ says

 

Single Earphones

For people who have deafness in that is worse on one side, there a also a range of Stereo to Mono earphones that can help amplify sound to one ear or convert talking books or podcasts so that they can be heard in one ear only. As this person on Amazon
says:

This product is primarily designed for runners and cyclists to let them listen to music while having an ear on traffic and surrounding noise, but it’s also brilliant for people with hearing loss – I’m deaf in one ear and can finally listen to “stereo” music through a mono earphone after years of only hearing half the track I’m listening to. The quality of the sound is great – I must be honest and say that my hearing means that I didn’t use earphones a lot, so I don’t really have much else to compare it to, but it sounds fab to me – and the noise isolation means that I can listen to loud music at work without anybody hearing a single annoying tinny beat of what I’m listening to. Overall a really great product.

 

Communication aids and gadgets for Deafness

So there are a range of useful communication aids for helping deaf people, some very specialist but many being widely available and needing no technical knowledge to buy or install. To browse a wide range of products click here

iPad helps American Boy find his Voice

iPad helps American Boy find his Voice

The benefits of iPad apps and technology for those living with disabilities proven again

Hunter benefits for iPad AAC support

Hunter in a speech therapy session

Despite the iPad being popular with absolutely everybody, we are convinced they help and support learning and communication for people with disabilities. Hunter Harrison is a five year old boy uses his iPad to communicate. Hunter lives with a neuromuscular disability which effects his motor abilities including those needed for verbal communication. Despite this, Hunter is learning to read, knows his numbers, letters, colours and shapes and will be attending mainstream school in September.

Hunter needs a communication system that works. It’s clear he has the facilities to flourish in a mainstream classroom environment. This view is shared by Jane Kleinert from the University of Kentucky who has been working with Hunter. She highlights how popular the iPad has been for use in classrooms, particularly with pupils with autism. The adaptability of the device is one of its most popular features.

Access to AAC Devices Limited, despite iPad affordability

iPad and Proloquo2go

iPad featuring Proloquo2go AAC app

Research in the US has shown that less than 50% of children who require AAC support have access to it. We don’t have statistics for the UK but we’re sure they won’t be significantly different. Access to AAC devices is essential for supporting communication development in children with disabilities. Professor Kleinert and a UK colleague are working together to develop an initiative to build communication systems for children with disabilities. The scheme has allowed Hunter his own iPad loaded up with the popular Proloquo2Go App. The app allowed Hunter to find ways to communicate  but over time it has also led to improvement in his oral speech.

Unfortunately in America, the leading funding options won’t supply iPads as they restrict their funds to dedicated instruments designed for communication. The iPad doesn’t fit this category. However, dedicated AAC devices are often heavy and extremely expensive. The iPad of course has many portability and cost advantages and the success Hunter has achieved is something that every child should have access to. This video shows Hunter in action:

Trabasack can be used successfully as a low cost iPad or communication aid mount for more info click here

AAC Apps for iPad and iPhone – Part 2

Part 2 – Autism AAC Apps for Children and Young Adults

Following on from part 1 of our compendium of blogs covering interactive iPad apps for AAC, we have yet more innovative teaching aids that will help to ease difficulties with communication via a fun and uncomplicated interface.

Image icon for the Augie AAC iPad AppAugie AAC is a modern and portable communication app specifically designed for those with AAC needs. The iPad app lets you organise information into two categories; home and school, where everything from schedules, vocabulary and tasks can be arranged for quick and easy access and usability. This voice output app comes with a library of high-frequency vocabulary, which covers both the home and school environment, and can be user-defined to provide even more freedom and independence of communication.

 

Image icon for the AutisMate iPad appAutisMate is a unique and fully customisable communication app is specifically aimed at children and young people with Autism. The app allows you to create “scenes” of familiar family, home and school settings by uploading photographs of surroundings, which can then be layered with interactive prompts matched to the user’s current location. The unique feature of this AAC app is its ability to track the user’s location using GPS, and thus updates the current displayed “scene” to match your child’s environment. The interactive prompts can include text-to-speech, video or static images, to help provide a fun way for your child to connect with their surroundings.

 

Image icon for the Baluh iPad appBaluh is a simple iPad app for creating communication pages using either the pre-installed 400+ ARASAAC symbols or user uploaded images. You can create category pages which can include 20 options, and then each option page can include 4 interactive communication buttons.

 

 

Image icon for Click n' Talk iPad AppClick n’ Talk is another simplified and easy-to-use communication aid that allows caregivers or children to create photo albums on specific subjects, using their own photographs. Each photo can have text and voice attached with ease, to provide a fun way of revisiting past events or helping to educate about everyday activities.

 

 

Image icon for the ComApp.i iPad appThe ComApp.i3 iPad app is a fun, bright and attractive AAC aid that allows children to quickly and easily communicate basic everyday needs and wants. The icons and interface are incredibly child-friendly, with a simple navigation that will help children express their needs almost immediately, without prior demonstration or experience with the app.

 

 

These AAC apps were chosen and appraised by Jane Farral, a speech pathologist and special educator with over 20 years of practical knowledge in the field of disability and assistive technology. Jane is highly experienced in the teaching of both adults and children with varying abilities, and holds a Masters in Special Education, where she concentrated on literacy acquisition in children and adults without speech.

 

Image of the Trabasack Media Mount holding an iPad

The Trabasack Media Mount provides the perfect angle and ultimate stability for iPads whilst in use

Trabasack are pleased to announce their newest communication device mounting aid– the Trabasack Media Mount; a multi-purpose, flexible mounting device, ideal for use on help support mobile electronic devices or as Ipads or other tablet computers when people are seated. The Trabasack Media Mount can be used in conjunction with the Connect Curve lap desk bag to ensure iPads, books or even remote controls and bottles remain in a sturdy position, and at the desired angle for use; it can be easily twisted into shape to hold almost anything upright, with the Velcro along one side ensuring the device remains firmly in place.

The V Pen and Voice Symbol Software

A Trabasack Mini Connect is a great lapdesk for your communication aids

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

Attach communication cards to the versatile “Connect” surface

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

Five Great Communication Apps for your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch

Your Trabasack is a great lap tray surface for your iPad

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. Yes-No - Smarty Ears

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. iCommunicate. - Grembe Inc.

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. TouchChat AAC with WordPower - Silver Kite

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. Assistive Chat - assistive apps

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.Grace - Picture Exchange for Non-Verbal People - Steven Troughton-Smith

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!

 

Your iPad is perfectly safe inside your Trabasack’s bag compartment

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!

Trabasack Mini Connect: The perfect Go Talk Bag

Trabasack Mini Connect: The perfect Go Talk Bag

The Go Talk 4+ device

Go Talk is an AAC device which is both intuitive and powerful and if you’re the owner, you’ll want a protective Go Talk Bag. Without being difficult to use, the Go Talk provides a number of simple options so communication can be made and helps the user ensure they get across the message they want. Extremely durable, the Go Talk models are a brilliant “entry level” communication device, for those just getting to grips with AAC technology or need an easy to use device to get across simple messages.

Go Talk devices are renowned for their durability but if you have invested in one, it is important to treat it with respect and provide an appropriate Go Talk bag for when you’re on your travels or taking it from home to school or work. The Trabasack Mini Connect is the best Go Talk Bag option on the market because it has two functionalities and is specifically designed to house communication devices and keeps them secure.

Trabasack Mini Connect Go Talk Bag

The Trabasack Mini Connect is the right Go Talk bag for you, because it can be used as both a bag space and a functional lap tray from which you can access and utilise your Go Talk device. The Trabasack Mini Connect has a Go Talk bag space that’s really spacious and provides all the support and security your device will need. Equally, you can carry your Trabasack Mini Connect in a variety of ways including on your back or as a briefcase, which adds a further flexibility to it. The other great function of the Trabasack Mini Connect is its tray surface. You can use the tray when you’re out and about to rest your Go Talk on and you can also use it to communicate from. The Connect surface means that you can attach and secure items to the surface of the Trabasack Mini Connect, using Velcro Hooks.

The Trabasack Mini Connect is the perfect Go Talk bag and competitors don’t even come close. For more information about Go Talk, watch this informational video discussing their devices:

 

Trabasack is available from these Communication Aid companies (to add your company to the list, please email duncan{at}trabasack.co.uk)