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The Humble Alphabet Board for Communication

July 01, 2021 2 min read

In our world of technology, the good news is that there are many different technologies that can help improve our quality of life. Augmentative or Assistive Technology or AAC can help people overcome their disabilities to communicate to their loved ones. People with MND have a variety of options as their muscles weaken and their movement becomes more restrictive.

When the speech starts to deteriorate, the simplest form of technology often used is an alphabet board. A Qwerty Alphabet board like the one shown below used with a pencil can be very effective in communicating with others.

However, as further deterioration occurs, eye gaze tracking software is often suggested to enable them to continue communicating or surfing the internet. However, such high-technology which uses a sensor to track your pupils may not be as effective. Such solutions are slow to set up, bulky, difficult to use and are very tiring to use for an extended period. 

Hence, we actually find that even those whom have purchased the expensive technology are reluctant to use it and would prefer the alphabet board and pencil even if they struggle to move the pencil. 

The laser pointer technology is another good alternative where even those unable to hold a pencil can still communicate with the alphabet board quickly and easily by pointing the laser to the alphabet board with slight movements of their head. Instead of staring at a screen for about two seconds at each letter that they want to communicate, they just need to point the laser at the letter on the alphabet board just like they used to do with a pencil. The eye tracking technology requires the user to keep the pupils open for the system to track its movements. This often causes fatigue and removes the enjoyment of communicating.

Such use of suitable assistive technology requires little or no training. It is this "Plug and Play" simplicity that makes people use them more often.  It is more important that the chosen solution not only works but works for the individual. Comfort and ease are the primary reasons why these solutions are so popular. Such assistive technologies may be simple but they work and are suitable.

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