[BCAB] Urgent Help Required - Communication Aid

Paton, John John.Paton at rnib.org.uk
Mon Aug 15 11:21:30 BST 2016

Hi Adrian,

I'm very sorry to hear that.

The technology you are talking about is augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) product with speech and switch access. The good news is there are products out there and organisations that can help. The products themselves are fairly specialised though and so also fairly expensive.

Sense work with deafblind people who often have additional needs so are knowledgeable about switch access and AAC systems. This is not totally within their remit but I'm sure they will help if they can. You can contact them on 0300 330 9256 or 020 7520 0972 or info at sense.org.uk 

Scope do a lot of work with people with severely reduced mobility so they may also be able to help. You can contact them on 0808 800 3333 or helpline at scope.org.uk 

Most or all of the products have a bit of a learning curve so if possible it may be best to try and find a communication professional to work with Sarah. I'm not sure if communication professional is the right term but if you ask Sense or Scope they'll probably put you on the right track. That way the professional can adapt to Sarah rather than forcing Sarah to adapt to a technological tool which could add to her frustration.

I hope you find a solution that allows you to make the most of your time together.


-----Original Message-----
From: Bcab [mailto:bcab-bounces at lists.bcab.org.uk] On Behalf Of Adrian Picton via Bcab
Sent: 15 August 2016 10:37
To: BCAB Discussion List
Cc: Adrian Picton
Subject: [BCAB] Urgent Help Required - Communication Aid

Dear all,

Please note this message carries a mascara/tissue warning so if you are at work or somewhere where you can't deal with something sad then maybe come back to this message later, but do come back to it if you can to see if you can help. This message goes beyond just a frustrating computer problem.

Unfortunately my darling wife Sarah has a brain tumour and has only been given a matter of weeks to live. She lost the use of her right arm and hand several weeks ago and now her left arm and hand is going as well. Her speech has also been deteriorating and she is now virtually unable to say anything understandable. She can nod or shake her head to sighted people and can squeeze my hand once for Yes and twice for No. You can imagine how frustrating this is for someone who is fully mentally alert and for me as their partner when Sarah is unable to communicate with me.

Initially I tried the Braille Sense in one-handed mode, but she no longer has sufficient use in her left hand to use it. I also tried creating a document with the letters of the alphabet on each line so she could use the scroll keys on the Braille Sense to find a letter to spell out a word for me but she can't even keep her fingers on the buttons. I also tried Braille Lexicon cards but she is unable to pick them up to place them to spell out a word or to see the large print letters from far enough away to point to them.

What I want to know is does a device exist like perhaps what Steven Horking uses where you can select letters or phrases to be read out in synthetic speech, but where the interface controlled by a joystick or pointing device also speaks to provide access for a visually impaired person. If so where could we get access to such a thing?

Alternatively does anyone know of an app, piece of PC software or computer or smartphone attachment which would do the job? Most things on the market are by their very nature visual.

If any of you can help or point me in the direction of someone who can I would be so grateful as it would help Sarah and I to make the most of our precious moments together.
Many thanks in anticipation,


Sent from my iPhone

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