This is first of a multi-part series where we will go in-depth and discuss the features of the autonoME.  As you know, the autonoME combines both environmental control and speech generation in one single package. This offers individuals full alternative augmentative communication (AAC) and the ability to control their environment with the same device.

There are three types of autonoME packages:

  • autonoME Residential – designed for in-home use
  • autonoME Hospital – used in hospital, rehab and long-term care settings
  • autonoMEgo – an alternative option offering portability for use from patient to patient

Today, we will focus on some of the features that make the autonoME attractive to hospitals, rehabilitation and long term care facilities.

Custom Installation and Ongoing Customer Support

We work with physical therapists, occupational therapists, nurses and staff to develop customized autonoME packages for each facility.  Not only do we install the units ourselves, but we spend time training staff on how to the package works to ensure they understand how to maximize all the the autonoME’s impressive features.  We also provide ongoing support and personally handle all questions and inquiries. We do not farm our support out to a third party or call center.

Nurse Call

This integrated feature allows patients to activate the nurse call light, eliminating the need for a separate call button. This is especially helpful for individuals who are unable to press a button as they can activate the call light using features such as eye gaze and sip and puff.

Room Control

The environmental control features allow them to control their bed and lights.  Bed timing can even be adjusted to increase or decrease the amount of time the bed moves in any direction. Patients in rooms equipped with an autonoME generally call on staff less often.

Television Control

Allows patients to fully control their television sets, eliminating the need to call for a staff member to adjust volume or change channels.


Controls basic telephone functions, allowing patients to answer and make calls on their own.

It is important to note that our residential units are also equipped with the above features, just customized for in-home use.  For instance, the nurse call feature is actually a caregiver call.  Room control may include operating ceiling fans and door openers.  And, television control may include the ability to switch from satellite to local television stations.

Our next article will discuss some of the popular ways the autonoME is used for entertainment.

Here is an interesting story out of southern Australia.  Paraplegics and quadriplegics are learning how to scuba dive as part of their therapy.  Muscle atrophy (decrease in the mass of the muscle) occurs when muscles are not used, and is common among those who are paralyzed. Hydrotherapy – in this case, scuba diving – allows paraplegics and quadriplegics to stretch their muscles and spread their limbs as they move through the water.  Like the autonoME – which promotes freedom and independence outside of the water – scuba gear can expand the feeling of independence by stimulating unused muscle groups and allowing participants to swim free.

So, not only can paraplegics and quadriplegics achieve therapeutic benefits from scuba diving, they now have a new sport they can participate in and enjoy!

Check it out:

Are you a quadriplegic who swims and scuba dives?  If so, we would love to hear your story.

Note: Any activity or sport should not be attempted without first consulting your physical therapist or physician.

Robert Oxford, a quadriplegic, finds independence through his autonoME environmental control unit (ECU).

Environmental Control Unit (ECU) Allows 84-year-old with Parkinson’s Disease to Communicate with His WifeAlfred and Anna at Sandys wedding

Eighty-four year old Alfred Combee had quite an active life. The former fire investigator was also an avid wildlife photographer. He and his wife Anna loved to mountain bike together. Three years ago, Alfred found out he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. His disease progressed quickly. He has already lost his speech and his ability to write, which left him unable to communicate.

Alfred’s wife Anna is now his full-time caregiver. Frustration grew among them both as Alfred struggled to convey even the simplest information.

“It got to the point where he could not even tell me if he needed something,” explains Anna. “He could not communicate basic things like when he had a headache or if he needed his medicine. It is very scary when you do not know what is wrong.”

Alfred’s dream was to be able to speak to his wife again, so, his hospice social worker suggested they contact Dream Foundation. The California-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization is the only national dream-granting organization for adults and their families battling life-threatening illness. Dream recipients are 18 years of age and older, have received a limited prognosis, and lack the resources to fulfill their dreams themselves. Anna submitted an application on behalf of Alfred, and, much to their excitement, they were selected. With more than 20,000 dreams served since 1994, Dream Foundation has never turned away a qualified dream request.

Dream Foundation contacted Accessibility Services, Inc. (ASI) in Homosassa, Florida to see if they would be willing to develop and donate a device to help Alfred achieve his dream of being able to communicate with Anna. ASI manufactures the autonoMe ECU and customizes the devices to fit the specific needs of each client. When ASI president Maggie Thompson heard Alfred’s story, she was more than willing to help.

“We knew how important it was for Alfred to be able to speak to Anna,” says Maggie Thompson, President of ASI, “We sent our technical team to Alfred’s home multiple times and developed a solution which now allows him to communicate with Anna. We were determined to do whatever it took to make one of his final wishes come true.”

According to Anna, Alfred is able to type into the device, which, in turn, speaks to Anna.

“They also programmed pre-fabricated sentences he can choose from, such as ‘I need to take my medicine’ and ‘I have a headache’,” says Anna. “I can now quickly respond to what he needs. We can also have a conversation, which we could not do before.”

According to Dream Foundation Executive Director Kisa Heyer, “Our organization was touched by Alfred’s story and his unique needs. Working with ASI was an encouraging and heart-warming experience that allowed us to help restore Alfred’s quality of life. We are thrilled for both him and Anna that he is once again able to communicate.”

“Alfred and I have been together for 25 years. My full time job is taking care of him. This is what you do when you love somebody,” concludes Anna. “I am grateful to both the Dream Foundation and ASI for making sure Alfred got exactly what he wanted.”

About Dream Foundation
The only national dream-granting organization for adults, Dream Foundation enhances the quality of life for individuals and their families battling life-threatening illness. Dream recipients are those individuals who have been given a year or less life expectancy. Dreams range from basic need items, like a working stove, to bedside reunions and meaningful experiences with children and loved ones. Founded in 1994, Dream Foundation serves more than 2,500 dreams each year and relies on a network of volunteers, sponsors and individual donors. For more information, visit

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Read about ASI in US Medicine A pilot program in Memphis is bringing VA closer to meeting what perhaps is the greatest desire for its 42,000 veterans with spinal-cord injuries and disorders: more control of their environment.

VA Memphis will roll out the “autonoME” environmental control unit (ECU) from Accessibility Services Inc., which will enable that spinal-cord unit’s 60 patients to do things such as adjust their beds, call a nurse, use the Internet, select music and make phone calls, even if they can only move their eyes.

Read about ASI in US Medicine