1999 Conference Proceedings

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UNDERSTANDING DYNAVOX USER ENVIRONMENTS

Stephanie Williams, MS CCC-SLP and Dannel Friel
DynaVox Systems, Inc. Product and Applications Trainers
DynaVox Systems, Inc.
2100 Wharton Street, 4th Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15203
Phone: (800) 344-1778 ext. 293
Fax: (412) 381-9096
E-Mail: stephaniew@dynavoxsys.com

Background

DynaVox System Software (DSS) comes with several user environments. The user environments contain a set of communication pages, vocabulary dictionaries and other information relevant to individual DynaVox users. Each user environment offered on DSS is separate and different from another. Included in DSS are the user environments Youngster, Child, Teen, Adult, Concept Search, Speller and Virtual.

User environments are provided as a place to begin setting up and customizing the DynaVox for an individual. In order to select the most appropriate user environment it is necessary to understand the different options available on the DynaVox. The following are brief descriptions of the user environments that will be explored during a hands on computer lab.

Youngster

The Youngster user environment contains vocabulary for individuals with a developmental language age of 12-48 months. Full sentences or phrase length messages speak immediately. These messages are used to begin to understand the "cause-effect" and "means-end" of communication. With simple navigation, the communicator is logically lead to social, medical and educational vocabulary. This user environment provides a DynaVox user an opportunity to explore and communicate simple messages.

Child User

The Child user environment contains communication pages for children 3-9 years of age. Phrases and single word messages are used for interaction during common home and school activities. The communication techniques of speaking messages immediately and creating a longer message to be spoken have been combined. This combination provides the opportunity to introduce children to novel message composition, while leaving their ability to quickly comment intact. The organizational strategy combines a built in master with sequential page links. The built-in master allows navigation between settings while the sequential links provide additional vocabulary related to a specific activity.

Teen User

The Teen user environment contains communication pages that encourage teenagers to gain independence and make decisions for themselves. Full sentences, phrases, and single word vocabulary allow quick communication of frequently spoken messages, while maintaining the ability to manipulate words to create novel messages. Different page formats help teens to plan schedules, save homework, and use environmental controls. A navigational popup menu combined with additional button links empower individual's to quickly move from page to page as well as access to rich vocabulary and language.

Adult User

The Adult user environment was designed for adults with acquired language deficits and has been found to be equally successful for adults with developmental delays. Consisting of a core vocabulary of 3500 single words the outcome of this user environment is novel message generation. Word representation is text based, therefore, symbols have not been applied to these pages. The organizational strategy categorizes the vocabulary by parts of speech. Navigation occurs through a built-in master. Consistency in the page design throughout the user environment facilitates motor automaticity and reduces memory load.

Concept Search User

The Concept user was created for individuals with limited literacy skills, but who wanted access to vocabulary beyond a small set of core words. Using DynaSyms for word representation, this user environment takes advantage of DynaVox technology to present an immensely rich vocabulary set. The DynaVox user determines the simplicity or complexity of a message. Vocabulary items are organized by concepts and generated by a vocabulary search. Each search will present a variety of terms related to a selected concept, as well as multiple terms similar to one another. Not only can novel messages be generated with this user environment, the probability of discovering, experimenting with and acquiring language is increased.

Speller User

The Speller user environment was designed for the literate person who uses spelling as their primary means of creating communication messages. This user environment allows for quick response to changes in communication situations by utilizing command buttons that make adjustments to the speech output features, word prediction controls and message window. To enhance the spelling process, prediction and searching capabilities are blended. This combination increases efficiency opportunities for a person to access words, phrases, and sentences related to the current communication topic.

Virtual User

The Virtual user environment provides DynaVox users with more realistic graphical representations of environments, objects and people to help them to make communication choices. Objects are found within common scenes, including several scenes representing the rooms in a house, the outside of a house and a lake. The Virtual user environment contains spoken messages for conversational topics related to activities that commonly take place, or about specific objects, in the environmental scenes. The navigational popup menu allows direct navigation between environmental scenes while " X marks the spot" links provide vocabulary related to a specific activity.

Conclusion

A person can quickly begin communicating with the DynaVox by selecting a user environment that matches their language level, vocabulary organization strategies, and communication style. Through the use of vocabulary activities, navigational strategies and ideas for application, this hands on computer lab will provide participants an opportunity to explore the distinct characteristics of each user environment. With this experience participants will be able to select an appropriate place to begin customization to meet the unique needs of the AAC user.


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