Thursday, June 04, 2009
Less Expensive Communication Device
I recently learned about a more affordable option for children and adults who could benefit by using communication devices to help them convey their thoughts. Specialized augmentative communication devices can give a voice to non-verbal children or those who have unclear speech, but unfortunately can be expensive with some of them costing $8,000 to $10,000. In addition to the expense, they are often large, heavy and cumbersome. Now there is a more portable and less cost-prohibitive option with the iPhone or the iPod Touch. There is an application that allows the user to touch icons and the device will voice commands, comments, and questions that are programmed into it. It's small and lightweight enough to be worn strapped to the arm or kept in a pocket or waist pack for easy accessibility. The application is called Proloquo2go and can be downloaded from iTunes. This tool is being used by individuals with cerebral palsy, Down Syndrome, Lou Gehrig's Disease, autism spectrum disorders, and stroke survivors. The Proloquo2go application costs $149.99. The iPhone and iPod Touch are available at Apple stores and even Best Buy. I just searched on Wal-Mart's site and they have the iPod Touch, too. It is probably available more places, but I only did a quick search. Basically this is a readily available device that has tremendous communication potential for a variety of people with disabilities. For the cost of the device and the application download, you can potentially open up a world of communication opportunities for about $500.00. As a speech/language pathologist, I get excited when people who cannot communicate effectively through verbal means nevertheless find ways to express themselves and interact successfully with others. I love that a Penn State doctoral student named Samuel Sennott has developed the Proloquo2go app so that people can use a tool they can buy at a local store, download the app, and help someone have a voice to express their thoughts. Imagine the frustration of knowing what you want but being unable to convey it in a way that others recognize and understand. For some, this application has the potential to alleviate that frustration as thoughts are expressed simply by touching a selected icon.