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Augmentative Alternative Communication

Synthetic speech
There are many types of uses of synthetic speech today. Besides giving voice to non-verbal persons, screen-readers help those with low vision and blindness navigate documents and Web pages. Today’s global positioning systems verbally point drivers in the right direction, and synthetic speech prompts automated phone systems and equipment.

For over a generation, synthetic speech devices (known as augmentative alternative communication or AAC devices) have been utilized for verbal communication by persons with speech-language disorders. AAC devices connect people of all ages to people at school, work, and recreation.

Who Uses Augmentative Alternative Communication (AAC)?
AAC users are children and adults with communication disorders due to cerebral palsy, autism, Down syndrome, ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease, stroke, traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson's disease.

What does an AAC device do?
Before computers were invented, a simple picture board was made with pictures to describe typical wants and needs. A non-verbal person could point to a picture of a hamburger to say “I’m hungry,” or a book to say “I’m going to do my homework now.”

Communication boards are still utilized today, but now we also have sophisticated electronic communication devices. Electronic AAC devices give users unlimited ways to express themselves. Users spell out words, or use abbreviations and symbols for short-cuts. There are all sorts of programming tools for AAC communicators to program messages with and have ready for future use.

  Note: The celebrated physicist with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Dr. Stephen Hawking, has used speech devices for years in his professional and personal life. As a highly accomplished scientist, Hawking has produced entire documentaries about the universe, utilizing synthetic speech to narrate.  

Easy, helpful features such as word-prediction improve efficient use of an AAC device, along with new software options. Features can be basic speech output to complex functions, including access to environmental controls and other electric units, depending on skills and preferences. Users can personalize their output with a choice of several synthetic voices, both male and female.

Below is a partial list of producers of AAC devices. We provide them just to acquaint new-comers with the range of possibilities in speech devices. Visit each company’s Web site to learn about products and features. Ultimately, a speech-language pathologist is needed to perform a complete assessment and determine which equipment is most useful.

Producers

  • Dynavox Technologies
    Dynavox Technologies offers a diverse line of AAC devices and software, along with training and workshops offered nationwide. Visit the Dynavox Web site for a comparison of all Dynavox devices (the DV4, MT4, Dynamo, MightyMo, MiniMo, etc.): http://www.enkidu.net/Default.aspx?tabid=50

  • Mayer-Johnson Company
    Makers of Boardmaker and Speaking Dynamically Pro, SuperTalker, and Advocate. Learn more here: http://www.mayer-johnson.com

  • Premke Romich Company (PRC)
    PRC is makes several AAC devices, including the Pathfinder, Vanguard, Vantage, SpringBoard, and Chatbox. PRC also produces switch-activated devices and computer-access equipment. See PRCs entire product line: http://store.prentrom.com/cgi-bin/store/index.html

  • Satillo Corporation
    http://www.saltillo.com
    Saltillo Corporation not only offers their Chat products but communication products from a number of other manufacturers that specialize in augmentative communication products. These products vary in purpose and level of use required by the communicator.

  • Words +
    http://www.words-plus.com
    Makers of communication and computer access products, including E-Z Keys, used by Dr. Stephen Hawking. In addition to word-prediction and basic speech output, E-Z Keys provides access to environmental and electrical devices.

Publications and Resources

  • To receive literature in augmentative communication, see the Augmentative Communication, Inc. Web site: http://www.augcominc.com/

  • The American-Speech Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) offers a wide array of free informational brochures for people who have communication disorders, their care-givers, and families. Find publications, along with a directory of certified audiologists and speech-language pathologists, plus a list of self-help groups: http://www.herring.org/speech.html.

  • Does My Child Have a Speech Problem? , a book by Katherine L. Martin , a speech pathologist, examining normal speech development in children and a look at potential disorders. Contact Chicago Review Press http://www.ipgbook.com

  • The Stuttering Foundation of America offers: Stuttering and Your Child: A Videotape for Parents, plus booklets, Stuttering and Your Child: Questions and Answers, and, If Your Child Stutters, a Guide for Parents. http://www.stuttersfa.org

  • Find a free page exchange for Dynavox users here:
    http://members.aol.com/dds4kids/dynavox.html



Note: Infinitec Inc. does not endorse or recommend the above-mentioned products and has no liability for the results of their use. Infinitec Inc. has received no consideration of any type for featuring this product on this Web site. The information offered herein is a summary; it is not comprehensive and should be carefully evaluated by consumers with the assistance of qualified professionals. The intention of Infinitec Inc. is to offer consumers a brief overview of various assistive technology devices and their applications.