What I should have said…

I think I left a few key details out of my recent email conversation
with Dianne. Most significantly, I failed
to mention the breath of contacts my team has attempted to make. Accordingly, here’s
the list:


All 12 Houston-area school districts

M.D. Anderson Hospital Speech Pathology Department
Baylor College of Medicine (indirectly)
Texas Institute of Rehabilitation and Research

Texas Rehabilitation

Speech Pathology Department(?) of University
of Arizona at Flagstaff

Enable-Mart.com (online purveyor of various ACS)

ATResources.com (pending)

American Speech and Hearing Association


Of those listed above, only M.D. Anderson and UA at Flagstaff have taken the time
to look at any version of Xpress It. (TRC doesn’t count since they let
other professionals select the ACS, they simply pay for them.) MDA raised the
issues about wanting Xpress It to predict entire phrases and have built-in methods
of alternative input. As their director put it, she needs a good reason to
recommend our solution instead of her existing choices. In other words, they want
another all-in-one solution that they can prescribe across the broad range of
patients with communication impairments. I’ve already talked about their
reasoning in an earlier entry. It’s basically the same the thing that the
school districts are saying. The SLPs don’t have the time or knowledge needed
to stay current on a broad selection of ACS. I’m sure there’s truth
to that, but it in turn ignores a basic truism of software development. To wit,
any system written to accommodate a wide range of users with different needs
becomes a set of compromises. That unfortunately means, in the scope of ACS,
high-function users cannot get a solution capable enough to be valuable in such
real-world environments as an office. My own experience proved that.


Curiously, apart from the list above, I’ve encountered
several SLPs and related rehabilitation professionals while I’m “out
in the field,” and they get so excited that I half-way expect puddles to
start forming beneath them! Instead, I get to hear how Xpress It could really
help one of their clients. Sadly, however, these wonderful encounters all end the
same way. These people say they are just peons, and that I should contact the decision-makers
at one of the places listed above. So far, I haven’t even rated a referral.
(UA also fell into this strange category of response.)


Is it any wonder why I’m frustrated? I make no claim of
omnipotence, but, from my vantage point, the decision-makers are the ones isolated
in ivy towers. It seems to me high time to break out the precision guided
munitions and bring down those towers so the decision-makers see what level of ACS
performance is demanded by the workaday world. Of course this implies that most
self-aware disabled people want to work, but that’s a topic for my next
entry. 😉


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