1999 Conference Proceedings

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WHAT'S NEW AT PRC?

Barry Romich
David Hershberger
Lamar Schlabach
Prentke Romich Company

INTRODUCTION

Prentke Romich Company is the world leading manufacturer in the areas of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) and computer access. The PRC headquarters is routinely the site of many developments that are having an impact on the lives of people with disabilities in these areas. Those that are being shared during this session are products and services that are new or changed since the 1997 CSUN Conference.

MINSPEAK

PRC communication aids feature Minspeak(TM), a language representation method based on short sequences of multi-meaning icons.

Minspeak promotes transparency for faster communication through the use of a continuous cognitive process. For access to core vocabulary, those words that constitute the vast majority of what people say every day, Minspeak can be so powerful. With Minspeak there are no changing word lists or changing pictures which need to be analyzed before making the next selection. Minspeak is clearly the AAC system of choice for a great number of people who rely on AAC. Research has shown that Minspeak can be from 70% to over 200% faster than spelling, word prediction, and single meaning pictures. Contact PRC for additional information and references.

VANGUARD

Vanguard(TM) is the only AAC device available that has all three major language representation methods employed in one unit: single meaning pictures, spelling, and semantic compaction (Minspeak). It is the first PRC AAC device to be implemented using dynamic display technology. Since CSUN '97 Vanguard has been enhanced through the addition of infrared wireless control, icon importing, word prediction, and other features.

Vanguard infrared function does two things. First it provides for wireless transmission of information to a computer. The Infrared Receiver connects to the computer serial port and converts the infrared signals from the Vanguard (or DeltaTalker or Liberator and Director) to the RS-232c that the computer expects to see. This allows someone who uses a Vanguard and who has independent mobility to approach the computer and connect without assistance. Vanguard also has built in the mouse commands that facilitate computer operation.

The second feature of the Vanguard infrared is the learning function. Vanguard can learn and reproduce the codes for entertainment and control products. This means that someone who relies on a Vanguard can use it to turn on the television, change channels, select the VCR, listen to the stereo, and operate lights, the telephone, and other electrical devices.

Icon importing is a popular feature of Vanguard. While the internal icon library has over 1600 bright, colorful, and detailed icons, there may still be a need to customize the device with pictures of specific people, places, and things. Now any bit mapped graphic can be imported and incorporated into the Vanguard icon set. Vanguard demonstration software now is available for becoming familiar with the power of Vanguard on a PC. An AAC clinician support software for Windows allows modification of the Vanguard configuration on a computer for later downloading into the device.

SIDEKICK

SideKick(TM) is a simple and small Minspeak device that uses digitized speech. It has twenty-four keys, measures 6" x 3-1/4" x 1-1/8", and weighs just 13 oz. SideKick comes with Unity Condensed, similar to that available in AlphaTalker with even more nouns and sentences. Transition from a SideKick to a DeltaTalker or Liberator would be relatively straightforward. SideKick has four user areas and comes with sample one and two hit

vocabularies. Auditory scanning is included. Memory can store over eleven minutes of speech and batteries last several days before needing to be recharged.

COMPUTER ACCESS PRODUCTS

Computer access for people unable to use the standard keyboard and mouse is possible using several PRC products. HeadMaster 2000 and WiViK (Windows Visual Keyboard) are two that are featured in this presentation.

HEADMASTER 2000

HeadMaster 2000 is a headpointing system for emulating a PC mouse. Performance is smooth and accurate to allow single pixel control. Yet, while the head unit is active, there are no wires connecting the person to the computer. A sip-puff switch is included or an external switch can be used for right and left mouse button clicks.

WiViK

The WiViK Windows Visual Keyboard system developed at Bloorview MacMillan Centre in Toronto has experienced recent updates. These include functional and language features.

The PRC web site http://www.prentrom.com has been expanded to include the following:

PRENTKE ROMICH INTERNATIONAL

The management and shareholders of PRC are pleased to announce the consolidation of PRC international distribution under the umbrella of Prentke Romich International (PRI) and the appointment of Katie Phillips as Managing Director. Katie Phillips has been associated with the assistive technology field since 1986 and is a member of the Institute of Directors in the UK, where PRI is based. PRI is a wholly owned subsidiary of PRC.

Those who read this paper and are not in attendance at the conference are encouraged to contact PRC or visit the PRC web site for current product literature and other information.

Barry Romich, P.E.
Prentke Romich Company
1022 Heyl Road
Wooster, OH 44691
Tel: 330-262-1984 ext. 211
Fax: 330-263-4829
Email: bromich@aol.com 
PRC web site: http://www.prentrom.com

David Hershberger
Prentke Romich Company
1022 Heyl Road
Wooster, OH 44691
Tel: 330-262-1984 ext. 219
Fax: 330-263-4829
Email: dhh@prentrom.com 
PRC web site: http://www.prentrom.com

Lamar Schlabach
Prentke Romich Company
1022 Heyl Road, Wooster OH 44691
Tel: 330-262-1984 ext. 293
Fax: 330-263-4829
Email: lls@prentrom.com 
PRC web site: http://www.prentrom.com


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