Case Studies in Assistive Technology and How It Helps – Part 1: Tess Finds a Voice, and More

Assistive technology is a term that covers any tool that helps a person with a disability perform a task on his or her own.  The variety of tools is as great as the types of disability and the number of tasks that need to be done.  The Assistive Technlogy Center at Advancing Opportunities has provided individuals with custom guidance on selecting and using diverse devices and software to perform everyday tasks and recreational activities and to communicate with a greater degree of independence they thought possible.

Assistive Technology Enables Tess to Expresses Herself and Shine in School
   A schoolgirl with cerebral palsy, Tess is unable to communicate orally.  “I cannot speak, but I understand everything you say,” says Tess.  Now, with Tobii, Tess can communicate verbally.  Tobii, is a sophisticated Swedish device that interfaces with a computer that generates speech.  Tobii tracks the movement of the eyes as most computer people would use a mouse to navigate a screen.  Thanks to Tobii, Tess can express her needs, thoughts, and desires.  Earlier devices such as buttons and switches simply operated on a yes/now system.  However, with Tobii, Tess can initiate information rather than merely respond.  Tess’s mom recalled how one day, her younger sister Mia came home from school, visibly upset.  Tess used the Tobii to ask for her sister.  Tess used her Tobii to say, “I’m proud of you.”  Tess finally got to be the big sister.


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