MDRC cultivates disability pride and strengthens the disability movement by recognizing disability as a natural and beautiful part of human diversity while collaborating to dismantle all forms of oppression.
Giving and Receiving: The Heart of Assistive Technology
Ken Cunningham understands the importance of effective communication. Ken survived a Traumatic Brain Injury several years before leaving him unable to speak, as well as limited mobility. His fine motor skills were affected however he was able to maintain his ability to communicate through writing. He was given a Dynavox, palm size several years ago to aid him with his speech, but the device was heavy, small and difficult for him to use because of his impaired fine motor skills. Mr. Cunningham was looking for an updated communication device with which he could use more fluently. He wanted to see the text to speech devices and applications on tablets. He contacted Carolyn Boyle at the Superior Alliance for Independent Living for a device demonstration to explore his options.
On their first visit, Carolyn showed him the Nexus tablet and iPad, which had both had text to speech applications. Ken quickly got the hang of how the devices worked and was trying them all out to see which one would best suit him. He was excited by the potential of using a tablet and speech application, and immediately went to work to try to find funding.
Later, while on a demonstration at the same apartment complex Ken lives in, Carolyn let him try out the iPad he was most interested in to give him more time to see if it would work for him. After her demonstration, she went to pick up the device from Ken and was greeted with a big smile. With the device he told her, “I just got a call from UPCAP and they (insurance) are going to purchase the device and application!” He was so excited and for very good reason. As she was leaving he asked her to wait and proceeded to get his Dynavox, showing her the broken cord. He wanted to donate his Dynavox to someone who did not have insurance and needed such a device. Having a true understanding of the importance of effective communication and the funding barriers that often exist, Ken was receiving the assistive technology and now wanted to give back.
Ken now has his iPad with the Assistive Express application on his tablet. He is able to communicate much more efficiently with people in his building, his friends and those he is around. His device was purchased by insurance, and he has donated his Dynavox to someone in need. Ken is a wonderful and caring man with a heart of gold!
Michigan Disability Rights Coalition 3498 East Lake Lansing Road, Suite 100 East Lansing, MI 48823
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