2003 Conference Proceedings

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Rick Hohn
AAC Consultant
DynaVox Systems, LLC
1125 Cottontail Road.
Vista, CA 92083
Phone: 760-598-8336
E-Mail: rickstalk@juno.com
Website: http://www.spiritwheelsministry.com


This session will cover key strategies in using a DynaVox and computer access for public speaking from writing a speech through delivering one with assuredness.


Although establishing basic communication is the prime reason for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), speaking through an augmentative device to an audience is thrilling. The presenter, who is a proficient DynaVox user, a pastor and a public speaker, will share key strategies that he uses to first writing a speech all the way to delivering it.

First, participants will learn of the secret dynamics for an AAC user to write and edit a speech on a DynaVox product and DynaVox Systems Software (DSS). Strategies will include computer access in using DynaBeam infrared capabilities if a user wishes to transfer text from the computer to a DynaVox or a DynaMyte.

In the writing and editing phase, it is important to customize AAC systems to accurately reflect a user's unique personality. Strategies will be presented that can be used to modify voices in an AAC device that represent an individual's personality and to make the devices' voices sounds as natural as possible. This is a challenge to create a distinction between using a limited selection of voices from DECtalk and the new TeriVoices. This strategy isn't only effective in a document file but on a dynamic display page.

Second, the participants will learn the importance of a page with verbal cues to help AAC users maintain the attention of people. Strategies will cover how to establish good eye contact, making audiences captive. A big button that is programmed to speak a paragraph enables a user not to focus on the device. DynaVox Systems software (DSS) allows flexibility in changing the size and color in buttons to accommodate people with vision, physical or cognitive abilities.

Third, a Power Point Presentation can add an extra professional dimension when you are delivering the speech. Strategies for designing PowerPoint presentations using dynamic display communication devices with computer access capabilities will be presented.

Key strategies will include:

Writing and editing a speech using a communication device:

The hardest part of any presentation is to select a topic of interest, do your research and then begin to write. Like in any kind of writing, it is important to keep the flow going by continually adding to a speech without taking time to edit. Do not stop! Don't try to edit during the writing process, but keep going with the flow.

Some users are more comfortable in writing the speech on the computer. If so, the text can be transferred by infrared capabilities using the DynaBeam.

Unfortunately, however, when writing long speeches, interruptions and breaks are likely to occur. To get the flow going again, a good strategy is replay or reread the speech through and then begins writing. A tendency will be to edit, but resist fine editing jobs. Only make changes to define the flow.

When preparing a speech on an AAC device, an abundance of punctuation marks are necessary so that words won't run together in sounding robotic. This procedure will allow DSS to place varying emphasis based on periods, commas, question and punctuation marks. Commas must strategically placed in sentences to separate phrases and clauses. With practice, this can be done in the writing process, but will most likely that will extend into the editing stage. Two examples will be given - one with regular punctuation marks and the other with an over abundance of commas.

The presenter will show some DSS command buttons to simplify the editing procedure. During the editing stage also, more punctuation marks will probably need to be inserted. Additionally, how to include pauses, stresses and changes of voices will be discussed and demonstrated.

This will lead in a discussion of when to use pronunciation exceptions and when not to by purposely misspelling a word. Though pronunciation exception can be used most of the time, there are occasions when doctoring up a word by misspelling may be preferable.

Timing a speech is essential in the editing process to make it appropriate in its delivery. Different strategies will be presented to assist in assessing this necessary step.

Delivering a speech

After the speech is written, a master page needs to be created that will allow the presenter efficient and comfortable access to their device. For example, having a "Basic Voice Changes" button programmed is necessary when a user wants to adjust the volume of the device according to a change in the environment.

Additionally, the "Speak-Paragraph-and-Move-To-Next" button needs to be large enough to press inconspicuously while looking at the audience. Besides direct selection, delivering a speech can be achieved by scanning and different selection methods as well from another kind of master page.

Establishing good eye contact cannot be stressed enough. Using body language and the AAC users' own voice to express emotions go far above any functions of a device. An AAC user's personality being more important than the device will be discussed.

A page with verbal cues to maintain the audience's attention

A necessary ingredient in delivering a speech on a DynaVox or a DynaMyte is to have verbal cues that anticipate questions from the audience. These responses vary from individual audiences during or at the end of a presentation. They add to the speech in reaction to the audience.

Using Power Point

To further enhance delivering a speech, Power Point Presentations can be controlled using the computer access capabilities from a DynaVox or a DynaMyte. A DynaBeam is the infrared link that methods of access will be discussed.

Thus in using all these strategies, someone with a severe communication disorder can enjoy the thrill of uplifting, entertaining and or educating audiences.

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