Friday, September 20, 2013
Hello! Happy Friday.

While I always have good intentions of staying up to date with posts, it can be hard when life gets in the way. Today I am writing to talk about a project idea I have to recondition phones and tablets for use as communication devices.

AAC - Augmentative and Alternative Communication

One of my strong areas of interest in the field has always been the use of AAC. I love the idea of giving someone a voice when they otherwise struggle to communicate. There are many, many different types of AAC. Just some brief examples:

  • Low tech - Using items like pictures to request needs and desires. Can also include the activation of a device (think -- a big button!) to give a pre-recorded message. You can also see items that are devices created to play several pre-recorded messages.
  • High tech - This would encompass devices like computers, tablets, phones, etc. that run programs to generate speech. Some programs/apps work with simple pre-recorded messages. Others, which are more advanced, use speech synthesis to allow for the pronunciation of any words that are input. Some even allow for the addition of grammatical morphemes and automatically add syntactic elements!
Who needs it?

This answer is so wide... lots of kids and people do! The populations I see that I feel could benefit from a device include those who are unable to speak verbally, those who have gross motor difficulties that make the use of sign language impractical, those who can speak verbally but who struggle to do so; children with Autism; children with Apraxia of Speech; children with Down Syndrome; so many different kids. Any child who we can encourage to have a better way of communicating!

Here is where you can help:

I want to help children to receive devices for little to no cost to the family. Insurance, in most cases, will not cover high tech AAC devices completely or at all.  I need your help to get these kids devices. 

Devices??

  • Old phones - Android or iPhone only - which have only cosmetic damage. They need to be in working condition with the ability to connect to a WiFi network.
    • If you have a phone that has been deactivated, and it could access an app store, chances are it will work!
  • iPads and iPod Touches - this really would be a dream donation, though I know that is very unlikely. 
What will happen to my old electronics device?

I plan to take the phones and tablets, wipe them entirely, and use them only over WiFi networks. I will download free, lite, or low cost communication applications that can be personalized for children on my caseload or children who I hear are in need from my SLP friends. Depending on the quantity and quality of devices received, the families may receive these devices to keep or receive them on a lending basis to trial until we can provide them with a similar device. 

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