Assistive technology is a valuable tool that can be used with children and adults who have little or no means of verbally communicating. Assistive technology provides the individual with an alternate means to communicate their wants, needs, thoughts and ideas, as well as participate in daily activities with independence.
The best assistive technology for communication is that which meets the specific needs of the individual in terms of their receptive language abilities, expressive language abilities and their manual dexterity.
What are the benefits of assistive technology?
Assistive technology has many benefits of helping individuals who have little or no means of communicating with others. The main benefit of assistive technology is that it gives a voice and communication means to people who are unable to do so due to disability, stroke, or other communication impairment.
Assistive technology also provides individuals with an independent means to make choices, express their needs and wants, and to convey their thoughts and ideas. Additionally, assistive technology helps family members, carers and other members of the community to interact and engage socially with individuals who use assistive technology. This promotes greater opportunities for individuals using assistive technology to participate in daily activities with independence.
What are the different types of assistive technology available?
There are two main types of assistive technology available to suit an individual’s current and future communication needs, their dexterity and movement needs, and their personal preferences.
Assistive technology can be high tech, meaning that they are the most complex devices or equipment that have a digital or electronic component. Speech generating devices are classed as high tech assistive technology and will often require training and education to learn how to use them effectively.
Assistive technology can also be low tech, referring to devices or equipment that do not have complicated mechanical features, and do not often require a high level of training or education. Low tech assistive technology includes symbol boards and communication books such as Pragmatic Organisation Dynamic Display (PODD) Communication Books.
There are also non-tech means of assistive communication, such as Key Word Signing or Makaton, however these forms of communication are not considered as assistive technology, rather an alternate communication means.
What assistive technology app options are available?
There are a wide range of assistive technology apps for communication, available to suit an individual’s communication needs.
Below are three assistive technology apps for communication which meet a number of communicative needs:
- Proloqo2Go: Proloquo2Go is an app that enables people to talk using symbols or typed text. It uses natural sounding text to speech voices and includes a range of different child and adult voices to best match the user. Proloquo2Go is a very user-friendly app and can be customised to suit each individual’s needs. It can be used on an iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, depending on what is most suitable to the individual’s needs.
- Predictable: Predictable is a comprehensive text-based app. It uses high-quality text to speech voices with gender and accent options to suit the individual and can save frequently used sentences and phrases. This app has a word prediction feature, and can share messages via email, Facebook and other forms of social media for those old enough to do so. Predictable is available on iPhone, iPod, iPad and Android devices.
- TouchChat: TouchChat is a symbol and text based assistive technology app. It is designed for children and adults who are unable to use natural speech. It includes high-quality text to speech voices, and can share messages via email, Facbook, Twitter and other social media platforms. TouchChat is available in iPhone, iPod, and iPad and allows for easy access to your own personal photo library to individualise the app to the user.
There are many more apps available to assist with communication, each offering different features to suit an individual’s unique needs and requirements. To find the app that best suits the individual and their needs, it is recommended that a comprehensive speech pathology assessment is completed.
Where can I learn more about assistive communication technology for my child?
Choosing the right assistive communication technology to suit an individual’s needs requires a comprehensive assessment as each person will have their own unique needs and requirements that need to be considered.
Each individual may require assessments from a number of health professionals, such as speech pathologists, occupational therapist, physiotherapists and/or psychologists in order to gain a holistic understanding of their needs, and how an assistive technology device can be chosen to best meet all of their needs.
If you have any questions regarding assistive communication and whether it may be suitable for a child or adult you know, please contact Harrison Speech Pathology and we will be happy help.