Hanging, Chilling, and Building Relationships

A look inside of a life of an AAC user.

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Posted by on in Uncategorized

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. 

Thank you! 



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Posted by on in Uncategorized

When I am going out to eat, my wife or my friend usually has to order for me.  The waitress or waiter usually just ignores the computer voice that I communicate with.  There was a time I would get upset by this, but I am so use to it now, it doesn't bother me.  However, it is possible to order food when the person taking the order is willing to listen and look passed the disability.  This is why we need to educate people because this should happen more often.  Please take a look at this video!  She was an awesome waitress.  

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As I became more independent, I wanted to become as independent as I could be.  Pizza was a big bachelor dinner for me, but sometimes ordering pizza was a challenge. I would call the pizza place, and they would hang up on me once or twice before realizing it was a person on the phone.  This all has changed because now you can order pizza over the internet.  I can make dinner for my wife every so often because I'm able to order pizza over the internet.  Sure, the pizza place did get use to my voice, and remembered who I was over time, but sometimes we need to access the other tools that we have around us to help us achieve independence!  Take a look at this video.  

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Posted by on in Uncategorized

In this clip, Chris, is visiting his bank.  The person has asked Chris a question, and then keeps trying to interrupt him.  He doesn't let her change the subject, and gets his point across.  Watch this clip and make notes at how Chris controls the direction of the conversation, even after he is interrupted several times.  What other observations can you make about this clip?  


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Posted by on in Uncategorized

Chris in the community


Thanks for watching...

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Posted by on in Uncategorized

Hello everybody!  I want to welcome you to the first blog post of BeCOME: AAC.  It is an exciting day for me because I have been working on this mission for a long time now.  It is exciting to see some fruit come to life, and we are hoping to produce more fruit as We get rolling.  

Relationships are the most important thing in many people's lives.  Okay, maybe I should take a step back there and say relationships should be the most important aspect in people's lives.  We know that isn't always true in today's world.  I would say we concern ourselves with many different things, and our relationships become secondary to a lot of people.  This is concerning to me, and I don't believe we value our relationships enough.  I believe relationships are our cornerstone to live life.  Where would you be without the relationships you have?  

I have asked that question a lot.  I am 39 now, and I have lived with my disability all of my life.  However, I have built numerous relationships with people, and because of those relationships I have been able to live my life to the best of my abilities.  Sure, I am determined, bull-headed, stubborn, and don't accept no for an answer.  Those attributes helped me push myself further, but without my relationships, I wouldn't have succeeded.  

This is the reason I believe we need to look at AAC differently.  We need to understand AAC is a tool for communication.  Communication helps people build relationships.  Relationships help people achieve goals that some thought weren't attainable.  

I was given my first AAC device at 6 years old.  At the time, I was in special education, and nobody really knew what to think about me because they couldn't really communicate with me.  When I received my device, my family, and the people around me, used that device to challenge me.  I believe this made me use my device more, which developed my language.  However, as I was learning to develop my language, I was also learning to develop relationships with my peers.  This made my teacher believe in me, and fight to get me mainstreamed in the regular class.  It basically changed my life.  

Are we doing that to beginning users of AAC today?  I don't know.  I know some are, and I know some aren't.  AAC is a tool of communication.  It's a tool to build relationships.  Our relationships will take us further than anything else in this world.  Are you ready to embark on this journey together?  I hope you are because it is going to be a fun ride. 

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