Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive, debilitating disease for which there is no cure.  There are treatments that slow the progression of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and many individuals affected by the disease find comfort in being able to incorporate a custom environmental control unit / ALS communication device into their daily routine to help improve their quality of life.

A 24-year-old medical student at Thomas Jefferson University by the name of Brittany File has been interviewing patients at the Jefferson Weinberg ALS Center for the past two years. She soon became passionate about the disease as she heard stories of the patient’s hopes and struggles.  She has now published a book of original poetry titled, Stop Requested: A Collection of ALS Poetry. Her collection of poetry offers a unique perspective of this debilitating disease.

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We salute Brittany File on her willingness to share this inspiring poetry in an effort to shed a different light on ALS.

Accessibility Services, Inc. (ASI) is the developer of the autonoME, which is a custom environmental control unit/speech generating device that features full computing capabilities all in a single, user-friendly interface. The autonoME is available in residential, hospital and portable versions and each operates using our proprietary software. The new and improved autonoME Hospital is the world’s first single device to offer augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), environmental control (hospital ECU), full computing capabilities and a fully integrated television experience. Give your friends at ASI a call to learn more about how the autonoME can transform the lives of individuals with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Voice Assistive Technology

(part two)

We are continuing our series on how voice assistive technology can ease the psychological impact of speech loss. Our previous article discussed how speech generating devices equipped with augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) capabilities and various input methods such as touch, sip and puff, eye gaze and head tracking can help quadriplegics and individuals with progressive, debilitating diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) project a voice.  This article will discuss voice assistive technology and voice/message banking.

Voice/message banking allows individuals to “bank” their own voice, unique sayings and expressions.  This is especially important for ALS communication as the prognosis for individuals with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is eventual loss of speech. If individuals with ALS begin voice banking in the early stages of the disease, they will be able to communicate using their own voice, unique sayings and expressions via a speech generating device.  In a nutshell, voice assistive technology that uses voice/message banking allows a person to communicate using their own voice and normal tones and expressions.

Accessibility Services, Inc. continues to take their signature assistive technology for quadriplegics and individuals with debilitating diseases to the next level. The all new autonoME Residential is a light-weight mobile device powered by ASI’s proprietary software. This custom environmental control unit/speech generating device incorporates Microsoft’sÒ trusted Surface Pro as the platform for environmental control, computer access and augmentative and alternative communication (AAC).  Want to learn more about how the autonoME can significantly improve the quality of life for you and your loved ones?  Give ASI a call today.

 

Voice Assistive Technology

(part one)

When a person is affected by a spinal cord injury or debilitating disease such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) both the individual and their family must confront the physical and emotional impacts of their new reality.  ALS communication and communication devices for quadriplegics equipped with voice assistive technology have revolutionized the way individuals who experience speech deficits and/or speech loss interact and communicate with the world around them.

This article is the first of a two-part series discussing how voice assistive technology can ease the psychological impact of speech loss. The first area we will address is augmentative and alternative communication (AAC).  AAC is any form of communication other than speech.  It can include anything from writing on a piece of paper, gestures and communication boards to technology such as a speech generating device.  A speech generating device equipped with voice assistive technology allows an individual who is unable to speak to project a “voice” using an input method such as touch, sip and puff, eye gaze, or head tracking. This “voice” can be computer generated or it can be projected in the persons own voice thanks to voice/message banking which we will discuss in our next article.

Accessibility Services, Inc. is the premier provider and developer of assistive technology for quadriplegics and individuals with debilitating diseases. Our signature autonoME is a combined environmental control unit (ECU) and speech generating device that also has full computing capabilities.  The autonoME is available in hospital, residential and portable models. The new autonoME Hospital is the world’s first hospital ECU that not only offers AAC and environmental control tools, but seamlessly incorporates all available adaptive access methods and provides a fully integrated television experience, allowing patients to watch broadcast, streaming and cable television.

If you are a caregiver or professional that works with quadriplegics and/or individuals with progressive, debilitating diseases such as ALS, we can help ease the psychological impact on patients and their loved ones.  Give us a call to learn more today.

With the coronavirus situation evolving, we want you to know that we’re committed to making the health and well-being of our customers and the health professionals we work with our priority.

While we understand this is an uncertain time, the one constant is our commitment to our customers. That is why we want to share the steps we are taking to keep you safe, without disrupting the level of service you’ve come to expect.

As part of our preventative measures, we will be implementing the following procedures to protect all of those who we and our environmental control units come into contact with:

  • As is our existing standard protocol, all employees will continue to wash their hands as a cautionary measure.
  • All employees will be provided gloves, wipes, hand sanitizer, masks and any other material required for the specific need.
  • All equipment entering and leaving our facilities will be wiped down with a broad-spectrum disinfectant solution.
  • Our facilities and tools will be cleaned and sanitized daily.
  • During installs and services calls, no box or package that has been shipped will be allowed into our customer’s home.
  • All items entering a customer’s home will be sanitized.
  • During service calls, installs or any other customer interaction, the employee is to wash or sanitize their hands and apply gloves and a face mask if required.
  • Whether in a commercial or residential setting, our employees will have their temperature taken if required.
  • We take the health of our employees very seriously and any employee not feeling well is encouraged to stay home.
  • If you have any concerns regarding a scheduled service call or install, we will be happy to work with you to reschedule your appointment at a later date.

We truly appreciate all of you and are grateful for your understanding as we navigate through this unprecedented experience together. Our company’s purpose is centered around you, our customer – which is why we’ll continue to work hard to provide you the support and service you deserve while keeping you and our employees safe.

*For more information on the coronavirus, please visit the CDC’s website

New Technologies for Individuals with Spinal Cord Injuries and Debilitating Diseases

Accessibility Services, Inc. is First in the World to Develop a Fully Integrated Experience for Individuals with Severe Disabilities

Accessibility Services, Inc. (ASI) announced today the roll-out of new hospital and residential solutions designed to help individuals with the severest of disabilities become more independent.  ASI, a respected assistive technology developer and industry leader for nearly 30 years, has taken its signature autonoME product line to the next level by developing the world’s first device offering both augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) and environmental control tools while providing a fully integrated television experience.

ASI primarily serves individuals with severe spinal cord injuries and debilitating, progressive diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and multiple sclerosis (MS). The autonoME is the first and only integrated environmental control unit (ECU) and speech generating device with full augmentative and alternative (AAC) and computing capabilities. It allows users to have full control of their environment and gives them the ability to generate speech. The revolutionary new versions of the autonoME Hospital, autonoME Residential and autonoMEGo will soon be officially unveiled:

Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) 2020 Conference

January 29th – February 1st

Caribe Royale Hotel and Convention Center

Orlando, Florida

Booth #313

The new autonoME Hospital incorporates a single 22” monitor that also allows patients to watch broadcast, streaming and cable television. This is an incredible breakthrough for hospitals, spinal cord injury units and rehabilitation centers as the autonoME Hospital is the world’s first device that not only offers AAC and ECU tools but seamlessly incorporates all available adaptive access methods and provides a fully integrated television experience.

According to Brice Green, ASI’s VP of Residential Business, the company’s new, proprietary autonoME software is designed to change and adapt over time, providing facilities and patients with the technical lever to remain relevant as trends evolve and change. Most impressively, the autonoME is a true all-in-one solution that extends the technological lever to clinicians within the hospital setting to accommodate any patient, irrespective of injury or diagnosis.

“We have been beta testing our new autonoME software and products at rehabilitation centers and the response has been quite impressive,” explains Green. “Not only are the new products being well-received, but our newly designed, proprietary software is providing an enhanced  User Experience (UX) that will transform the lives of individuals with the severest disabilities and their families.”

The new autonoME Residential is a light-weight mobile device that incorporates Microsoft’s® trusted Surface Pro as the platform for environmental control, computer access and AAC using ASI’s proprietary software. The redesigned, portable autonoMEGo now comes with a 17” display, articulating arm and optional eye gaze control access method.

“Individuals with the severest disabilities are often overlooked by many developers of new technology,” says Green. “It’s more profitable to develop for masses. Our mission is to serve the needs of this often underserved community and improve the quality of life for each individual we touch and their families.”

assistive technology for quadriplegics

Part Two

We are continuing our two part series on how quadriplegic assistive technology also benefits individuals with debilitating diseases such as ALS.  The autonoME is a proprietary custom environmental control unit (ECU)/speech generating device/Windows computer integrated into one single, convenient package.  Our previous article highlighted benefits including environmental control and caregiver peace of mind.  Below are two more ways quadriplegic assistive technology can make a difference in the lives of individuals with debilitating diseases:

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)

Loss of speech – whether sudden or gradual – can take its toll on both the individual affected and his/her family and friends.  Fortunately, assistive technology for quadriplegics and individuals with debilitating diseases has advanced to incorporate augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) features.  The advanced AAC capabilities of the autonoME allow individuals to “bank” their own voice so it can be used later when speech becomes impaired.  Read more about voice banking.

Computing Capabilities

Many quadriplegic assistive technologies and ECU devices offer very basic features. The autonoME, on the otherhand, is a custom environmental control unit (ECU) / speech generating device that is equipped with Microsoft Windows 10.  Those who use the autonoME enjoy the freedom of being able to surf the internet, post on social media, conduct video calls, send messages and e-mail, write stories, and anything else that a Windows computer allows.

As you can see, ECU devices and communication devices for quadriplegics play an integral role in the quality of life and well-being of individuals with debilitating diseases.  If you or a loved one has been diagnosed, give us a call to learn more about how we can help!

assistive technology for quadriplegics

Part One

Accessibility Services, Inc. has been on the forefront of developing innovative solutions and assistive technology for quadriplegics for nearly three decades.  A lot has changed since we opened our doors in 1991 and we have since expanded our focus to also serve individuals with debilitating diseases including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).  Our proprietary autonoME custom environmental control unit (ECU) has integrated augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) features and a Windows 10 computing system.  This forward thinking device includes everything needed to help an individual maintain independence and effectively communicate.  Let’s take a closer look:

Environmental Control

ECU devices have transformed the lives of quadriplegics and individuals with debilitating diseases such as ALS.  A custom environmental control unit allows an individual to perform everyday task such as turning on lights, adjusting the bed, controlling the television, turning on the fan, opening doors, answering the phone, operating a computer and more without the assistance of a caregiver.

Caregiver Peace of Mind

ECU devices and communication devices for quadriplegics and individuals with debilitating diseases not only allows the individual to have some independence, but they also provide much needed respite for caregivers. Now, caregivers can go to the store or visit a neighbor without worrying about leaving their loved one helpless at home.

Part two of our series will discuss more ways that quadriplegic assistive technology can benefit individuals with debilitating diseases including ALS.  If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with ALS, we can help.  Give us a call today.

A Sad Goodbye

Pete Frates, the former baseball player/captain and Director of Baseball Operations for Boston College who inspired the ALS ice bucket challenge, has passed away.  Frates was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in 2012 at age 27.

Frates’ social media campaign challenging friends and celebrities to the ice bucket challenge is attributed to helping make it go viral.  As a result, the challenge raised more than $115 million for the ALS Association, according to the New York Times.

Accessibility Services, Inc. (ASI) was proud to participate in the ice bucket challenge back in 2014.  Not only did we take the challenge, but we made a contribution as well.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1JzGhLTD3yY

A statement from the Boston College BC News website:

“Pete Frates possessed the characteristics we hold dear as a university—courage, integrity, selflessness, and a commitment to helping others,” said Boston College spokesman Jack Dunn. “He accepted his illness and devoted the remaining years of his life to raising awareness of ALS and helping to raise money for a cure. He is a role model for all BC students and a beloved figure on our campus.”

Everyone at ASI is saddened by this loss.  Researchers continue to work on a cure.  Until then, we remain committed to providing the most user-friendly, high-quality and innovative ALS assistive technology on the market today.  The autonoME is a custom environmental control unit equipped with augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) capabilities, making it one of the most sought after communication devices for quadriplegics and individuals with debilitating diseases including ALS. If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with ALS, please give us a call today.

Let’s Talk: Voice Assistive Technology

(part two)

We are continuing our series on voice assistive technology. Our last article discussed voice banking and how individuals with ALS and other debilitating diseases can benefit from the autonoME as their disease progresses.  The autonoME is more than just a custom environmental control unit.  It also has full alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) capabilities, making it one of the most advanced and sought after ECU devices on the market today.

Message banking with your own voice is similar to voice banking in that it utilizes a person’s natural voice.  An individual records words, sentences and phrases that they commonly use and/or are meaningful to them using their own unique expressions.  They can even record stories and anything else they feel is important to preserve using their own voice, tone and expressions.  These “legacy messages” are then saved so they can later be delivered in a way that is unique to the individual.

Once a person is no longer able to speak, the autonoME custom environmental control unit integrated with voice assistive technology and alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) would then be used to communicate these messages, sentences and stories. They would be projected in the person’s own voice utilizing their unique expressions.

Message banking by proxy is used when an individual is unable to make a clear recording of their voice due to pain, fatigue or onset of speech loss. The individual may choose another person, or proxy, to make the recordings for them.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive disease with no cure.  But, thanks to ECU devices and ALS communication assistive technology, individuals with the disease can still maintain some independence and ability to communicate.  If you would like to learn more about how the autonoME can help, give us a call today.

Article Source:
Message Banking, Voice Banking and Legacy Messages
John M. Costello
Boston Children’s Hospital

Tell Me More About Voice Assistive Technology

(part one)

Custom environmental control units have come a long way since their inception. Accessibility Services, Inc. (ASI) has been on the forefront of this exciting technology that has transformed the lives of countless quadriplegics and individuals with progressive diseases and their caregivers.  Our founder, Fred Thompson, founded ASI in 1991.  His main focus at the time was to provide assistive technology for quadriplegics, especially veterans with spinal cord injuries.  The company has since grown and now develops assistive technology for quadriplegics and individuals living with diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and multiple sclerosis (MS).

When it comes to ALS communication assistive technology, the autonoME’s different input methods come into play as the disease progresses.  Individuals can operate the autonoME using input methods including voice, touch, sip and puff, eye gaze, and head tracking.  A person with ALS may first use voice commands, then need a different input method such as eye gaze or head tracking as their disease progresses.

While an individual with ALS is still able to use their voice, it is recommended that they consider exploring how voice assistive technology works. Voice banking, as we discussed in a previous article, allows individuals to record their speech that will later be used to create a synthetic voice that sounds like their natural voice.  ASI partners with the Acapela Group, utilizing their “my own voice” software to allow our clients to create a digital copy of their voice.  Once an individual loses his/her speech, the voice assistive technology and alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) features integrated in the autonoME allow them to speak using their chosen input method.

Part two of our series on voice assistive technology will cover message banking options. If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with ALS or another progressive disease, we can help.  Veterans diagnosed with ALS may qualify to receive an autonoME custom environmental control unit with voice assistive technology through their VA benefits.  Give us a call to learn more.

Article Source:
Message Banking, Voice Banking and Legacy Messages
John M. Costello
Boston Children’s Hospital