Phonics for All Now available in Grid 3

Accessibility Services, Inc. recently made history by installing the autonoMe (environmental control unit/speech generating device) in the Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare in St. Paul, Minnesota.  The autonoME’s – used for both environmental control and Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) – were the first devices of their kind installed in a pediatric hospital in the state of Minnesota.

We are often asked if the autonoME is designed for children.  The answer is – YES! The autonoME is ideal for quadriplegics of all ages, including children. It is equipped with Grid 3 software, which includes a variety of tools and grid set designed specifically for children.

One new grid set is called, Phonics for All.   This innovative addition to Grid 3 features reading and spelling grid sets designed to support users of AAC who are in the process of learning to read and write.  It teaches key sounds in the English language, enabling users to sound out words.  This grid set is backed by research and designed to encourage independent learning. Key features of Phonics for All include:

  • A complete AAC tool supporting learners on their way to using synthetic phonics
  • Simple structure that complements other phonics programs
  • Assesses learning needs and progress
  • Built specifically to support all methods of access
  • Includes comprehension, so users with complex needs can begin to read for meaning alongside acquisition of phonic knowledge

If you have a child who needs an autonoME, contact us today.  We are happy to talk with you about the environmental control and AAC features available to help both you and your child.

Latest Grid 3 Software Update – Grid 3.0.26 is Now Live

It is a good practice to keep your autonoME (environmental control unit/speech generating device) and/or Grid Pad powered by Grid 3 software up to date to ensure optimal performance.

The latest Grid 3 software update – Grid 3.0.26 – is now available for download. New features include:

  • Option for Eye Gaze calibration to view video feed from EyeTech cameras including option to add this feature to a grid set using the new Eye Gaze monitor video command
  • Ability to turn off the tracking indicator lights for EyeTech cameras (helpful for users who are distracted by the lights).
  • One-point calibration option for EyeTech cameras, which allows a new user to get started without requiring a long attention span
  • Ability to add more actions to environment control accessories including alarm, blind, set-top box, and television
  • New ‘Relay’ environment control accessory
  • Button to open the Windows game Controller settings when setting up switches

Bug fixes include:

  • Cursor can be seen when using the “move the mouse” computer control option on touch screen devices
  • Switching between eye gaze click methods no longer requires multiple selections to switch
  • Clicking an empty writing area no longer causes prediction cells to change
  • Long hold can now be used with hold
  • Grids with only music auto content cells no longer show a “This grid set is empty” message
  • Fix the fact that music auto content cells could be scanned during the initial scan activation

ASI’s Brice Green Selected to Present at the 2018 Assistive Technology Industry Conference (ATIA)

Our own Brice Green has been selected to present at the ATIA 2018 conference in Orlando, Florida held January 21st – February 3rd, 2018.  Green will be presenting a session titled, Combining Environmental Control with Speech Generation to Achieve Maximum Independence.  According to Green:

“Effectively combining environmental control with speech generation can be challenging, especially when the patient is required to use multiple devices, platforms and software. The autonoME, developed by Accessibility Services, Inc. (ASI), is unique in that it combines both an environmental control unit (ECU) and speech generating device (SGD) into one complete package. This allows once mobile and verbal individuals now faced with losing their independence the ability to control their environment and generate speech using one single interface. The autonoME’s advanced augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) offers versatility and features which can be customized to meet the specific needs of each patient.  Most importantly, it is powered by the easy to learn and user friendly Grid 3 software. The efficacy of the autonoME has been quite impressive in both residential and hospital settings.”

We are excited to have the opportunity to discuss in-depth how this technology can benefit quadriplegics, and individuals with debilitating diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and progress forms of multiple sclerosis (MS). Special thank you to Smartbox who invited us to apply to speak at this conference.  Neil Hanson, Commercial Director of Smartbox, will be flying in from the UK to join us for the presentation.

If you are planning to attend ATIA 2018, please let us know.  We will be happy to schedule a personalized live demonstration of the autonoME for you!

Parachuting, Anyone?

As you probably already know, everyone here at ASI are huge advocates of independence. We’ve built our business on and dedicated our lives to helping quadriplegics achieve independence in their lives. Perhaps this is why stories like the one below touch our hearts:

Check this out:

Talk about independence – whoa!!!  This group of paraplegics and quadriplegics had the opportunity to go indoor skydiving thanks to the Determined2Heal Foundation.  From the looks of things, everyone had a blast! How many of you are brave enough to try it?

Seeing individuals who are quadriplegics due to spinal cord injury or debilitating diseases such as MS and ALS enjoy the freedom of flying is truly incredible. We, too, work every day to improve the lives of quadriplegics.  There is nothing more gratifying than walking into the home of a quadriplegic and installing a custom environmental control unit designed to give them the freedom to control their surroundings.  Or, knowing that our signature autonoME environmental control unit/speech generating device is being used in hospitals and Veteran’s Administration Spinal Cord Injury Units across the United States to help quadriplegics become more independent.

Do you or a loved one have an inspiring story of independence to share?  If so, send us a quick e-mail or give us a call.  We would love to feature you on our website and even possibly write a press release or story about your adventure!

WordPower 60 – Proven Success with AAC

If you are looking for a proven alternative augmentative communication (AAC) grid set for your automoME (environmental control unit/speech generating device) or Grid Pad, look no further! WordPower 60 is now available and it is absolutely awesome.  WordPower 60 was created as a result of the incredible response to last year’s release of WordPower 100.  While both are ideal AAC models, WordPower 60 is designed to be more accessible for people requiring larger or fewer cells.  It also includes many accessible apps allowing users to send e-mails, browse the Internet, send SMS messages, listen to music, participate in chats and more.

Let’s take a look at some of WordPower 60’s most attractive features:

  1. Most used core vocabulary is displayed at the top of the page
  2. Core verb displays dynamic links to category
  3. Word prediction
  4. Category grids incorporate core vocabulary
  5. Apps galore
  6. Grids for environmental control

WordPower 60 uses an evidence-based core vocabulary designed to make developing sentences quick and easy.  WordPower 60 is ideal for quadriplegics and individuals with spinal cord injuries because its larger cells better accommodate motor and visual difficulties. It is also popular with children and those at earlier stages of language development.

The regular addition of innovative grid sets like WordPower 60 is yet another reason why ASI products are powered by Grid 3 software. It is easy to add WordPower 60 to your autonoME or Grid Pad.  Simply update your Grid 3 software to version 3.0.24 (or later) and navigate to the “Add Grid Set” menu. WordPower 60 is found under symbol communication.

Have you tried either WordPower 100 or WordPower 60 specifically for AAC?  If so, drop us a quick line and let us know what you think!

Grid 3 Software Update

Grid 3.0.25 is now live!

The latest Grid 3 software update brings enhanced features and performance to Grid Pad’s and the autonoMe (environmental control unit / speech generating device).  Version 3.0.25 is now live and ready for download.  Some features include:

  1. Easier sign-up process to create a new user
  2. Both standard users and the primary user can sign into Dropbox
  3. Suggest commands no longer jump from self-closing grids
  4. Improved sorting when printing grids

Bug fixes include:

  1. Windows no longer jumps erratically on touch devices when scrolling past limit
  2. Enhanced Easywave stability
  3. Radar mouse is now more visible
  4. Calibration for eye gaze has been enhanced
  5. Camera cell no longer freezes when transitioning to another grid with a camera cell
  6. The Speak now works when followed by Clear
  7. The close window button is now visible when calibrating with black background color

 

ASI’s autonoME Makes History at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare

Accessibility Services, Inc. (ASI) had the opportunity to install our autonoME environmental control units/speech generating devices in three specialty rooms at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare. KSTP TV- 5 in St. Paul, Minnesota covered the story, as it is the only pediatric hospital in the state outfitted with this type of technology.  The young man featured in the news story below uses the autonoME outfitted with sip ‘n puff to lower the shade in his room and operates his television with voice control.  Check it out:

Watch KSTP-TV 5 News Story:

ASI was proud to be part of this project designed to help improve the quality of life and promote the independence of quadriplegics at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare.   We look forward to installing autonoME’s in even more hospitals throughout the country!

Augmentative and Assistive Communication (AAC) – Why is Switch Scanning So Important?

No two spinal cord injuries or diseases are alike.  One quadriplegic paralyzed from a car accident can be left with completely different abilities than another. A person with a debilitating disease such as ALS or MS may lose certain abilities as their disease progresses.  Switch scanning is so important because it allows the user to customize how they control their environmental control unit (ECU) /speech generating device (SGD).  The autonoME – powered by Grid 3 software – has two switch input ports, allowing individuals to customize how they control the tablet.  Users can choose from a number of switch options, which vary by sensitivity, size and type of body movement. A few popular input method options for AAC include:

  • Sip and puff – Control the ECU and AAC features by sipping and puffing
  • Micro switches and finger buttons – Allows users to control the ECU and AAC features using a light finger touch
  • Foot switches – Tapping the switch with a foot controls ECU and AAC features
  • Head switches – Individuals press a flat switch with their head to control the ECU and AAC features
  • Grasp switches – control the ECU and AAC features by hand grasping movements

Switch scanning is easy to set up.  The tablet is simply placed in the position desired by the user and the switch is plugged into one of the two input ports.

When it comes to scanning, the autonoME powered by Grid 3 software allows for a variety of options, including row column scanning and two-way elimination. Speed can be easily be increased or decreased.  Cancel, reverse, and pre-programmed words are also possible.  And, the autonoME’s multiple switch ports allow the user to better customize scanning.

Contact ASI today for a complimentary consultation to learn more about the autonoME and its switch scanning options.

Environmental Control Units and Speech Generating Devices – AdaptABILITY is key

Whether someone is a quadriplegic because of a spinal cord injury or debilitating disease such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or multiple sclerosis (MS), the key to independence is found in the adaptability of their environmental control unit (ECU) or speech generating device (SGD).  The autonoME is a combined ECU and SGD with full augmentative and assistive communication (AAC) capabilities.  Powered by the easy to learn and very popular Grid 3 software, the autonoME can be controlled using various input methods.  Let’s take a closer look:

Touch

Individuals with use of their hands may prefer to operate the autonoME using its capacitive touch screen. The autonoME comes with a stylus, and the screen responds to both finger touch and the stylus, depending on the user’s preference.

Voice

The autonoME features a microphone so it can be controlled with vocal commands.

Sip and Puff

The sip and puff switch features a straw which allows users to activate the ECU / SGD switch by sipping and puffing to move across and down the screen.

Eye Tracking

Equipped with Eye Gaze, the autonoME’s commands can be activated by the user’s eyes.  A camera tracks the pupils to move the cursor up, down, left and right.

Head Tracking

This feature works much like Eye Gaze, tracking the movements of the users head to control the curser.

Switch Scanning

The autonoME is equipped with two switch input ports that allow for multiple switch options designed to accommodate different body movements. This enables the user to control the autonoME using one or more input methods such as sip and puff, grasp switches, micro switches and finger buttons and foot switches, among others. We will discuss scanning methods in a future blog

ASI understands that no two quadriplegics have the same needs, so we customize our ECUs -including the autonoME – to fit each client.  We work with quadriplegics in hospitals, long-term care facilities and residential settings.  And, we choose Grid 3 software because it is quick to learn, easy to use and updated on a regular basis.

Below is an article featuring a brave gentleman who battled ALS for 17 years.  He lived in a long-term facility, and used eye tracking to connect with people, control his environment and even earn a college degree.

Grid 3 Software Update

Grid 3.0.24 is now available in Early Access. 

In addition to its easy to learn interface, ASI chooses Grid 3 software because we can count on regular updates.  This, in turn, helps us ensure our clients have the latest and most advanced speech generating device / augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) capabilities.  Let’s take a look at the new features and fixes in the latest Grid 3 software update:
Have You Updated Your Grid 3 Software?
Latest Features and Capabilities:

  • Control the master volume for default audio devices using new Windows volume commands.
  • Tablet devices feature a mouse cursor for pointer control commands
  • Additional options to change voice speed and pitch
  • Improved grammar support for Dutch
  • Grid 3 now supports Austrian language

Advances:

  • Self-closing grids will no longer close with rest cells
  • Sleep screen opening has been adjusted to better accommodate users
  • Improved support for Remote Editing
  • Web search image results improved when using slower Internet connections
  • Read cell commands no longer stop before all text had been read

Quadriplegics and individuals with debilitating diseases count on ASI and Grid 3 to communicate and connect them to the outside world.  Do you have a success story you would like to share?  If so, let us know!