It is really nice to “meet” a SLP willing to listen. Well, that’s not quite true. The SLPs who have experienced Xpress-It do appreciate its audio clarity, but they always ask where the iconic interface is. As one MD Anderson SLP put it, SLPs have so little time that they tend to select solutions which cover the broadest spectrum of clients possible. The department head went further and said she really preferred a single solution. That’s fine for the SLPs, but it plays to the lowest common denominator among the clients. How is a disabled person with speech impairment ever supposed to be independent? You can’t really do that with icons, because your vocabulary has to be unlimited.
For the record, the very way the Xpress-It software is written makes it naturally able to be combined with other things. Technically, you could even use a Dynavox to control a computer running Xpress-It. Getting the message of Xpress-It’s versatility across to the AAC community has been the real challenge.
The reason why I’m going to TATRC is because the education system is where the bulk of clients are mated to an AAC solution. The local technical director of the former TRC warned me that few clients ever upgrade to better AAC solutions. That means schools are the critical battleground where a student’s future ability to communicate is decided. Somehow, I need to get educators to notice the way Xpress-it works makes it also a natural tool for teaching the connection between words and sounds. (Yep, by default, Xpress-It uses all of those arcane English pronunciation rules we had to learn—with a healthy dose of common sense thrown in.)
Sent: Tuesday, February 06, 2007 9:46 AM
To: Scott Royall
Subject: RE: Texas Assistive Technology Regional Conference, Houston, TX June 25-27, 2007
Thank you for your prompt registration. You get a star for being the 1st vendor on record 😉
I noticed from the video demo on your site that it is text based system. That is great as I don’t think any of the AAC vendors with similar programs are coming (good for you too I guess).
Just and FYI our facility is trying to improve it’s accessibility with the upcoming reservations but I am not sure how far along they will be in June. Please let any Conference staff know if you have any additional needs while you are here. I look forward to meeting you.
Region 4 Education Service Center
From: Scott Royall [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Monday, February 05, 2007 5:54 PM
To: Angela Standridge
Subject: Texas Assistive Technology Regional Conference, Houston, TX June 25-27, 2007
Yes, I have dutifully registered for TATRC and forked over the required $75 for a booth. However, I decided to forward something I recently had to write for another new contact. While that contact was an apparent spammer, my response still serves as a good, no-bull 60-second thumbnail of who I am and what I’m about. As it actually mentions, I am mindful of your hellish workload as a SLP. Still, I hope you will read on. What you’ll read is interesting, and hopefully worthwhile to you.
From: Scott Royall [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Thursday, February 01, 2007 3:37 PM
Cc: Tao Ju
Subject: FW: Cerebral Palsy (fwd)
I am curious as to what prompted you to contact Tao, my associate. He and his wife have been assisting me in attempting to market an AAC solution I created named Xpress-It. Unfortunately, my efforts have not met with any financial success yet.
I should introduce myself. My name is Scott Royall, and I have CP. I also have a Computer Science degree, and worked for Shell Oil for 14 years. Since I couldn’t talk, and none of the currently-available AAC packages met my management’s expectations for intelligible speech, I was compelled to write my own high-fidelity solution. If some hubris will be forgiven, it is literally true that, at a recent impromptu meeting with Dynavox reps and users, the reps were left to explain why their expensive device couldn’t match the audio quality of my all-software Xpress-It.
I was furloughed almost five years ago when Shell decided to start transferring their IT work to Malaysia. Since I can’t get anyone to even grant a job interview to me, I have focused my efforts on trying to make a living on my one remaining marketable asset, Xpress-It. The nature of the AAC market has somewhat surprised me with its resilience to new approaches. There are no real villains involved; the resistance is mostly a product of the vetting process used. New products have to be reviewed and recommended, usually by recognized speech/language pathologists. SLPs have notoriously heavy workloads filled with many tasks, and few have the awareness of what computers are actually capable of. I guess it’s understandable that people stick with recommending what they are comfortable with, even if it is 15 years obsolete. The AAC community as a whole seems to not realize the voice quality required for someone to hold a job.
To be honest, I’m not entirely sure how I can best assist you in your endeavor. Xpress-It is available on my website, my blog is at http://adayinthelifeofaperson.spaces.live.com/. You might possibly convince me to write a few articles, but be aware that I tend to “call things as I see them.” I am not always sympathetic to my fellow disabled person, as I often find them surrounded by an air of defeatism. Life is pretty brutal and uncompromising, but it is also intrinsically filled with possibilities. As long as someone has options, he should be flogging them hard to improve his life.
From: Tao Ju [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Thursday, February 01, 2007 11:00 AM
To: Scott Royall
Subject: Cerebral Palsy (fwd)
See the forwarded message below.
Maybe this is helpful 🙂
———- Forwarded message ———-
Date: Thu, 01 Feb 2007 11:51:48 -0500
From: Chris Glavin <email@example.com>
Subject: Cerebral Palsy
My name is Chris Glavin. I run a website devoted to providing resourceful
information for a number of topics in education and disabilities and
disorders. I have created an information page on Cerebral Palsy including
History, Cause, Incidence and Prevalence, Types, Signs & Symptoms, Imaging
Findings, Prognosis, Treatment, Spastic, Support Services, Special Education
Schools, Camps, Books, Videos, Magazines & a Community Discussion Group with
members from all over the U.S. Please take a moment out of your day to visit
the page. If you would like to help in any way please do not hesitate to
contact me. I am always looking for individuals interested in providing
articles, resources or have any services for individuals with Cerebral