Week 5 Blog

Stacy Peterson

Eye Gaze Board

The Eye Gaze Board is an example of an augmentative and alternative communication intervention for individuals who are unable to communicate with speech. It is designed as a low-tech option for individuals with paralysis, neurological diseases such as ALS and severe developmental disorders. There are other eye-related interventions, such as the eye tracking software designed by Click2Speak. Stephen Hawking used a version of Speakbook when he first lost his voice; however, he indicated letters and words by a lift of his eyebrow. Because he has blepharoptosis, eye gaze was not reliable. Instead, software has been designed where a sensor is placed on his glasses, and a sensor sends feedback to his computer when he tenses his cheek. This is how his voice synthesizer works and how he communicates, with text to speech. After completing the audit assignment, I realize the Eye Gaze Board would be difficult to use in public or with people unfamiliar with its use, but may be a useful tool for home. Hopefully, the more advanced technology will come down in price so that it is available to more PWD.

Stella Young, Loretta Claiborne & Self-Determination

Stella Young's message was that PWD are not inspirational just by the fact that they have a disability. She states that society is objectifying PWD for the benefit of inspiring PWD. It is interesting. When someone takes the stage, I believe that he/she has the ability to be inspirational, with or without a disability. Stella was being an inspiration to those that agreed with or changed their minds regarding her message. If someone was without a disability and then had a disability due to an accident, I do believe they can be inspirational for continuing to live their life despite the disability (some people would just give up, or PWOD think they might be the type to just give up). To call the person inspirational may be a way to compliment someone, although it may be misinterpreted by the PWD. For example, it may be a way for someone to say "good job with your self determination", without knowing the specific lingo. The components of Self-Determination listed in Module 5 are worth listing:
  • Choice making: appropriately choosing between a finite number of choices.
  • —Problem-solving: weigh pros & cons of potential actions, identify barriers to success
  • —Decision making: involves choosing between unlimited options
  • Goal setting and attainment: ability to set appropriate goals for self and achieve the goals with actions
  • Self-regulation: self-monitoring, self-evaluation, self-instruction, self-management (controlling own behavior by being aware of one’s actions and providing feedback)
  • Self-advocacy: have knowledge of self, knowledge of rights, communication skills, and leadership ability.
  • Self-awareness: awareness of own individuality, strengths, and areas for improvement
  • Self-efficacy: understanding that own actions have an impact – you are a causal agency in your life
I think Loretta Claiborne is a great example of self-determination. Her mother and other people in her life seemed to provide her with options and goal setting. She was able to excel in obtaining confidence in her abilities, and now advocates for those with intellectual disabilities. She is amazing, not because of her disability per se, but because of what she has accomplished in this life so far, and the impact she seeks to make in this world. She has a purpose.
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"The capabilities needed to become self-determined are most effectively learned through real-world experience, which inherently involves taking risks, making mistakes, and reflecting on outcomes. "

Self Advocacy & Voice

Oftentimes, individuals with disabilities, particularly those with intellectual disabilities, rely on caretakers, professionals and/or parents to determine the course of care and other decisions. The intent may not be there to stymie the PWD, but the PWD can lose their independence, decision-making, and, ultimately, voice. It is thought that discrimination, segregation and isolation of those with intellectual disabilities is derived from this loss in voice. Self advocacy should be possible, at differing degrees, depending upon type and severity of disability as well as circumstance. The point being: self advocacy does not require even verbal cues; there are many ways to communicate, including nonverbally and with the use of augmentative communication devices. It is up to society in general to seek their participation in decisions, whether small, large or anywhere in between. This will aid PWD in constructing their identity and feeling participatory in society.
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The Cost of Empowerment

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)

AAC is a way to supplement or enhance communication with no tech (gestures, behaviors, pictures, symbols, pencil/paper), low-mid tech (eye gaze board, single message device) or high tech (voice synthesizer) alternatives. For pictures and symbols, the speaker in the provided youtube video suggests Boardmaker, Google images or clip art. She speaks to using a Universal Design for Learning (UDL). For example, she says to provide pictures for instructions and other items around the room. She gave an example of a student who could not raise their hand, so she had what he could do (body movement with eyes focused on teacher) done by all the students in the class. She also discussed in detail single and multiple message devices. For example, switches can teach cause and effect and control of their environment". She also shows "multitasking", such as using a single message device with a picture (and the word on it), and recording the word. This would combine multiple ways of communication and is a very powerful use of AAC. The 7-level Communication Builder is a way to "build" communication skills from 1 picture/word/recording all the way up to a grid-style 8. The speaker states that recording words is what separates mid-tech from high-tech options. High tech examples include dedicated speech generating devices. High tech devices are "set aside by their synthesized speech and huge amount of built-in vocabulary." She states that sometimes the only difference in one technology from another in the same company is its size. Examples of high-tech are: PRC with its accent line of devices (size of buttons and how many vocabulary words fit on each screen) uses Language Acquisition through Motor Planning; DynaVox, using visual scenes, have more phrases built-in and are activity based (typically for up to age 7); Toby Churchill (letter-based system called the LightWriter) device, which requires literacy skills, uses letter prediction technology; and tablets like the iPad have different apps, such as the Proloquo2Go app, which are similar to the other devices. The hi-tech companies are trying to make their products have more of a tablet feel (like the iPad). She also mentioned the Tobii company, but did not provide an example. Some devices provide environmental controls, such as shutting lights and fans off, unlocking doors, answering phones, text, send emails, etc.

This was a fascinating video that I learned a lot from. Being developed in 2013, this information is probably already outdated, due to how fast technology changes! That boggles my mind. We live in such an amazing world with so many variations for PWD to communicate, i.e., to have a voice. I appreciated her showing the myriad of devices, and demonstrating how each of them works.
Basics of AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication)

Reason for Self-Advocacy & Determination

  • "Individuals who score higher on measures of self determination (SD) have more positive adult outcomes (e.g., better employment, better living situations)

  • —Research is emerging regarding the relationship between SD and positive school experiences (e.g., higher grades, attendance, fewer behavior problems). Wehmeyer & Schwartz (1997)"