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

Can a Smart Home Device Replace a Custom Environmental Control Unit?

Assistive technology for quadriplegics and individuals with debilitating diseases have come a long way and can help people communicate and perform tasks that were once impossible years ago.  Accessibility Services, Inc. (ASI) has been developing environmental control units/ECU devices and communication devices for quadriplegics and individuals with debilitating diseases for nearly three decades.  A lot has changed over the years, including the emergence of smart home devices that allow most people the ability to control certain aspects of their home via voice prompts or a smartphone app.  While these devices are fun to use and have transformed the way we perform many tasks, they have significant limitations for individuals with disabilities.

Assistive technology for quadriplegics and individuals with progressive diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is much different and more advanced than simple smart home devices. Let’s take a look at some advantages a custom environmental control unit/speech generating device such as the autonoME has over smart home devices:

Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC)

The autonoME, for instance, is a custom environmental control unit with integrated alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) features.  Smart home devices are not equipped with full AAC features.

Input Methods

The autonoME is considered one of the premier ECU devices / communication devices for quadriplegics and individuals with progressive diseases because of its ability to accommodate different input methods including voice, touch, sip and puff, eye gaze and head tracking. Smart home devices operate using either voice or touch.

Voice Assistive Technology

Communication devices for quadriplegics and individuals with debilitating diseases often incorporate voice assistive technology for communication.  The autonoME, for example, even allows individuals with progressive diseases to bank their own voices and expressions for use after they lose the ability to speak.

Computer Access

The autonoME – equipped with Windows 10 – is an example of assistive technology for quadriplegics and individuals with progressive diseases that allows for full computer access. Smart home devices are not full computing systems.

While smart home devices have their advantages and are fun to use, they are not a sufficient substitute for a custom environmental control unit or speech generating device.  If you would like to learn more about how the autonoME can transform your life, give us a call today.

ALS

If you have been diagnosed with a progressive disease such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), voice banking is something that should be considered as early as possible. Accessibility Services, Inc. (ASI) is proud to partner with Acapela Group.  They are the developers of a software called, “my-own-voice”, which seamlessly integrates with the autonoME to make it a powerful and effective ALS communication device.  Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why voice banking is important to anyone with ALS or another progressive disease that affects speech:

Speak with Your Own Voice

At some point, a person with ALS will lose their ability to speak.  Once this happens, voice assistive technology can be used to help them communicate.  The autonoME is an environmental control unit/speech generating device with full augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) capabilities. Acapela Group’s “my own voice” software allows individuals to preserve their own synthetic speech by creating a digital copy of their voice.  Later, when speech is impaired, individuals with ALS and other progressive diseases can still communicate and project the sound of their own voice through the autonoME.

Capture Unique Sayings and Expressions

The beauty of voice banking is that it can be used to create stock messages and expressions.  This helps ensure the person maintains his/her own identity.  For example, perhaps a mother has a nickname for her son that she says with a certain expression or tone of voice. Her unique tone and delivery can be preserved through voice banking.  Voice assistive technology will allow her to continue to communicate with him and others using her normal expressions when she loses her speech.

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with ALS, please give us a call to learn more about how ALS communication assistive technology and environmental control units for disabled individuals can improve your overall outlook and quality of life.  We’re here to help!

ALS

Being diagnosed with a progressive disease such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) can be devastating to both the person with the disease and their family and friends.  Once the initial shock has worn off, it is time to start making plans for living life with the disease.

Get Support

First and foremost, both you and your loved ones should consider getting support to help you navigate through the disease process.  The ALS Association is a good place to start. There may be support groups and resources in your area that can help you with everything from mental health and emotional support to applying for disability benefits.

Explore ALS Communication Assistive Technology Options

At some point, ALS communication assistive technology and environmental control units for disabled individuals (ECU units) will be needed to help you maintain quality of life.  Exploring these options sooner than later will help you identify the type of ECU units/voice assistive technology you will need as well as find the resources to secure this technology when the time comes.  Voice banking is also something you may want to consider early on as it can become an important part of ALS communication assistive technology when the ability to speak is hindered or lost.  The autonoME is an integrated environmental control unit/speech generating device that is effective, user-friendly and has helped countless individuals with disabilities and progressive diseases achieve independence.

Consider Medical Trials

ALS in particular has many ongoing medical trials.  Ask your doctor about what trials he or she may recommend for you to consider.

Accessibility Services, Inc. is here to help ensure you or your loved one maintains as much independence as possible. The autonoME has different input methods and accessibility options so once a diagnosis is confirmed, we can work with you and your speech therapist and physical / occupational therapy team to develop a customized solution that accommodates the different stages of your disease. Give us a call to learn more.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive disease that causes damage and eventually death of the nerve cells that control muscles and movement.  This incurable disease has remained somewhat of a mystery over the years. There is no one test that can definitively diagnose ALS, and the disease has very limited treatment options.

However, in an article published in Medical News Today, scientists may have identified significant differences in the cells and neurons present the spine of healthy individuals and individuals with ALS.  The study concluded that “people who had died from focal-onset ALS had different types of motor neurons, compared with healthy individuals.”  Scientists hope this breakthrough will lead to new treatments that slow the progression of the disease.

While there is still no definitive cause and few effective treatment options to enhance quality of life and life expectancy, the autonoME does offer some independence and hope for individuals with ALS and their friends and family.  The autonoME not only allows a person with ALS and other debilitating diseases and conditions to control their environment, but it is also an effective ALS communication device.  Environmental control units (ECU units) and ALS communication assistive technology have made significant strides over the years with the autonoME leading the way. Accessibility Services, Inc. developed the autonoME for individuals with spinal cord injuries and debilitating diseases.  In addition to ALS, the autonoME is a leader when it comes to environmental control units for disabled individuals AND communication devices for quadriplegics and individuals with debilitating diseases. Interested in learning more? Give us a call today.

Voice Assistive Technology

Voice assistive technology is a term used to describe any type of electronic device that offers speech assistance, including personal speech aids, voice amplifiers, and what is commonly known as a speech generating device (SGD).  Accessibility Services, Inc. offers voice assistive technology through our proprietary autonoME.  The autonoME is an integrated environmental control unit (ECU)/speech generating device (SGD).  It’s superior augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) features are one reason why the autonoME is considered an industry gold standard.

The autonoME features a variety of different input methods – including touch, eye gaze, switch scanning/sip and puff, and head tracking – which makes it an ideal (ALS) communication device for individuals with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. When it comes to ALS communication assistive technology, the ability to accommodate different input methods is extremely important as the disease progresses.  A person who once was able to operate the autonoME using touch may need to utilize head tracking during later stages of the disease.

As far as equipment for quadriplegics, the autonoME can be customized to meet both environmental control and voice assistive technology needs. It is one of the most popular communication devices for quadriplegics.

If you or a loved one are affected by a progressive disease (i.e. ALS, multiple sclerosis, etc.) or are a quadriplegic who needs speech assistance, voice assistive technology will significantly improve and enhance the way you communicate.  Give us a call to learn more about how the autonoME can help.