It has been discouraging to see CMS try to change a policy that doesn't need to be changed. I have been using a SGD for over 35 years now, and it has given me a life. I was able to get a college education and a master’s degree because of my SGD device. The proposed changes are going to limit people with speech disabilities because you are proposing to take valuable tools away from their device.
Communication today is not only about face to face interactions. We have a variety of ways to communicate in today's world. There's emailing, texting, tweeting, face booking, and etc. A person with a speech disability has the right to use all these different ways to communicate. These SGD devices have tools in them to get on the computer, to text on the phone, and etc. We need these tools to have independence. We need these tools to communicate in variety of ways, just as a person without a speech disability has the ability to do. These aren't extra tools that are coming on the device. These are tools that are valuable to our every day communication. If we are unable to unlock these tools, we aren't able to communicate to the best of our abilities.
I have access to these tools, so I am able to email and text somebody when I need assistance. I am living independently on my own, but I do need assistance at times. I am able to send out a mass email or text message at that point, and it gives my network of friends a chance to reply. It gives me the assurance somebody will be over soon without having to call people individually. It has given me much greater independence over my life.
The other valuable tool for me is the ability to turn on my television, and control my home lighting through my SGD device. If you are denying access to these tools, you are denying me access to live independently on my own. I need access to these tools, so that I am able to continue to live independently. If these tools aren't able to be unlocked, I will no longer have the opportunity to be as independent as I am right now.
You have the lives of millions in your hands right now. The policy for SGDs doesn't need to change. I am encouraging you to keep it as it has been for the last twenty years. This will allow individuals like myself to keep living our lives to the best of our abilities. This is our right! This is our American dream.