his son dearly, and is quick to employ his substantial resources to do
everything he can to help Thomas have the best chance at a meaningful life.
On that score, Richard deserves all the accolades he’s getting. CP kids need
all the help they can get!
On the other paw, Tango, Richard’s contribution to the AAC world is much
less impressive to me than it obviously was to the ABC field crew. Don’t get
me wrong, any third-grader who can reproduce the sound of, say, a SD40
locomotive’s air-horn to express his anger is going to enjoy a degree of
celebrity among his classmates! Yet, Richard is a big businessman. He
doesn’t need me to tell him that words are the real language of success.
Thomas’ chances for a rewarding life hang heavily on his ability to string
separate words together into phrases, sentences, and paragraphs that
eloquently express his thoughts. The ABC article says that’s actually
Richard’s goal, but Tango can’t do it because it’s icon-based. Simply put, a
user can only handle choosing from a limited number of icons at any time.
Also, the article mentions that Thomas’ family prepares Tango before special
occasions. My own reaction was, "so much for Thomas saying what he really
Dale, you know that my AAC program, Xpress-It, was written based on the
diametrically opposite approach. While the software makes a game attempt to
predict what I might say next as it learns more and more about how I speak,
I am always free to dive into words it hasn’t even seen before. Xpress-It
does a wonderful job of being clear to even complete strangers as long as I
get the spelling correct! 🙂 Such flexibility was de rigor when I did IT at
Shell Oil; I might be talking to a customer one moment and my manager the
next using fundamentally different vocabularies!
Hopefully, this email will be sufficient to prompt Richard to google me! 🙂
From: Dale Bullock [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Monday, July 31, 2006 2:51 PM
To: Scott Royall (E-mail)
I saw this last Friday on the 6:30 ABC evening world news. Think you will
find interesting. To access go to http://www.ABC.com then go to evening news, then
Person of the week Richard Ellenson. Let me know what you think.