RE: Texas AT confrence at Region 4- title?

Angela, thanks
for the editing help. That’s a real challenge shoehorning everything into
50-100 words.

 

Yes, the issue
of thinking beyond communication is something I intend to spend some time on.
It probably won’t do any good, but I can try. I’m also considering
doing a little stunt to extend what “communication” means. What do
you think the reaction would be if a little radio I had with me suddenly came
alive during the presentation and called me? The entire contact wouldn’t
last much longer than a minute, just long enough for the person calling me to
give their location across town. Of course the whole thing would be
pre-arranged and carefully timed, making use of my amateur radio license.
However, the whole thing would appear spontaneous to the audience, and
hopefully drive home the idea that AAC must be extremely flexible to emulate
the task switching the average person has to be able to do without thinking.

 

Please give me
an afternoon time slot. Between where I live and the daily schedule my
caregivers are used to, I probably won’t even get there before 10.
We’ll exchange email on what the presentation desktop might be able to
help. I suspect the fact that it runs Windows 2000 is going to limit what it
can do.

 

From: Angela Standridge
[mailto:amstand@esc4.net]
Sent: Thursday, March 13, 2008 8:53 AM
To: Scott Royall
Subject: RE: Texas AT confrence at Region 4- title?

 

You crack me up- “borg like design”.  Resistance
is futile. Your points about having the laptop for more than communication is
very valid too. I think our folks do not have that perspective. The descriptors
are usually 50-100 words to fit in the program.  I will edit down what you
sent.  This should be fine. I am sending out the room assignments (hopefully
tomorrow and will include what I came up with for you to review.

 

Angela Standridge, M.A., CCC-SLP, ATP

Region 4 ESC

713-744-6831


From: Scott Royall
[mailto:royall@conchbbs.com]
Sent: Wednesday, March 12, 2008 7:41 PM
To: Angela Standridge
Subject: RE: Texas
AT confrence at Region 4- title?

 

In effect,
you’re saying my descriptor should be a synopsis of my presentation.
(“Well duh, Scott.”) Ok, but how long is a descriptor, a page? Hmm,
let’s see:

 

I am Scott Royall, born in Bryan, Texas
in 1956. Except for eight wonderful years in Baton Rouge,
Louisiana, I’ve lived in Houston all my life. I worked for Shell Oil
for 14 years as a software developer before being laid off in April, 2002.
Those interested can view my resume at
http://www.conchbbs.com/Docs/Final_Presentation_Resume.rtf.

I’m physically
disabled with Cerebral Palsy. I use a customized electric wheelchair to get
around, but am unable to talk. That’s what prompted me to develop Xpress-It.
With Xpress-It, a standard laptop computer, an automotive-type audio amplifier
and speakers (all powered by my wheelchair), I can talk to anyone.

One of life’s first lessons I
had to learn was that verbal communication is one of the tools that makes the
difference between just existing and actually being a member of society. Harsh
but true. How eloquent we are often plays a big role in deciding our future. I
quickly found the current crop of augmentative communication software to be
lacking in flexibility, reliability, speech quality, vocabulary, or
inter-operability with other programs. Fortunately, being a professional
software developer put me in a position to do something about those problems.
Indeed, my former Shell supervisors gave me a mandate because they were
dissatisfied with the leading AAC options at the time. A major point is that,
no matter how well an AAC solution may work, it will become a hindrance to
anyone who is trying to function in society if it isn’t completely
compatible with other computer technology.

For the record:

Xpress-It uses the
Eloquence speech engine developed by Eloquent Technology Inc. for the
Department of Defense. This all-software synthesizer produces very high quality
speech that even total strangers understand. Xpress-It is a text-to-speech
system with the following features:

  • Practically
    unlimited vocabulary (max. database size: 2GB)

  • Automatic
    entry of new words into vocabulary

  • Programmable
    pronunciations

  • Word
    prediction based on the user’s previous history

  • Customizable
    voices

  • Built-in
    voice control language

  • Complete compatibility
    with Windows 98 or higher

  • Modest system
    performance impact 

  • No additional
    hardware needed, just sound support and speakers

 

Angela, the
“day in the life” idea is interesting, but my daily life is pretty
dull. The salient point is the extreme importance of the compatibility issue. I
could not use most AAC software because of its Borg-like design. Taking over a
entire computer to perform a single task, no matter how important, is really
frown upon in office environments. One of the bigger goals of my talk is
getting the audience to think beyond AAC. If someone does have to drag a laptop
around to talk for him, it should do 10,000 other things for him too. There are
good reasons why I name my laptops after my dogs; the one I most trust
naturally is named after my working dog.

 

In case it
wasn’t obvious, the stuff in black is a preliminary descriptor. Copy it
to your heart’s delight. I realize you’re very busy, but I still
welcome your feedback.

 

From: Angela Standridge
[mailto:amstand@esc4.net]
Sent: Wednesday, March 12, 2008 3:03 PM
To: Scott Royall
Subject: RE: Texas
AT confrence at Region 4- title?

 

We have had augmented communicators present several times in the
past so the audience is not as novice as you would think. They usually love
these sessions. The presenters have usually composed their “speech”
ahead of time as you plan to do and then answered questions at the end with the
word/spelling based systems they use. I think the idea of giving them a
“day in the life” perspective would work very well. You might even
share your blog (we could bring it up on the presentation computer).

 

I would have the following in the descriptor:

 

Who you are and the fact that you are an augmented communicator

What you do- adult, living independently. AAC company, blog, etc.

Successes and struggles you have faced/ do face

What you envision kids in public school would need to be as
successful (literacy, access to curriculum)

Details about your software (if you would like to give away a copy
of your software in the session rather than the general drawing, that is fine)

 

Angela Standridge, M.A., CCC-SLP, ATP

Region 4 ESC

713-744-6831


From: Scott Royall
[mailto:royall@conchbbs.com]
Sent: Tuesday, March 11, 2008 7:47 PM
To: Angela Standridge
Subject: RE: Texas
AT confrence at Region 4- title?

 

Yes, I realized
you needed more. I entered what came to mind at the spur of the moment, and I
apologize for its brevity.
J

 

Actually, I
welcome your thoughts and input. I recognize that I will essentially be walking
the proverbial tightrope with my presentation, because I will be addressing an
audience consisting largely of rehabilitation-related professionals. I need to
establish a degree of rapport with them that gets us through some misgivings I
have with the process of selecting and procuring AAC. What I don’t want
to do is a 30-minute “info-mercial” for Xpress-It. Rather, I
 want to talk about what it really takes for a “severely
disabled” person to be a functioning member of the community. Only at the
very end do I want these professionals thinking: “damn, we just
experienced what someone with a really good AAC can do.” My talk is going
to be more about trying to get people to raise their expectations.

 

I will be
“cheating” in some sense, because I will probably record my audio
as a MP3. The point of that is just to simplify my workload during the
presentation. Xpress-It could certainly give the talk in real-time, but
it’s better at interactive conversation. Turning the talk into a MP3
allows very simple pausing to answer questions. It also allows me to take my
hand off the keyboard and thus move around the front of the room as other
speakers do. I haven’t yet decided what my visuals will be. I truly
don’t want to be wired to anything, but my laptops certainly have the
horsepower to drive an overhead projector so we’ll see. It’s true
that another one of those unspoken messages I want to leave the audience with
is that Xpress-It is about the only AAC that peacefully co-exists with
everything on modern laptops.

 

I like your
“walking the walk, talking the talk” line. You managed to nail my
topic exactly so that should be the title. Given what I’ve said here,
I’d welcome any snippets you might have for the descriptor. I’m
stuck for something catchy.

 

I will probably
blog some of this because that’s what I do, but only things you’re
comfortable with sharing.

From: Angela Standridge
[mailto:amstand@esc4.net]
Sent: Tuesday, March 11, 2008 1:26 PM
To: ROYALL@CONCHBBS.COM
Subject: Texas
AT confrence at Region 4- title?

 

Scor

 

Scott-
I need a title for your presentation.  This is the descriptor you
submitted:

Experience
what is possible for someone who depends on AAC.

 

I
would also suggest you beef up the descriptor a bit.  I would mention that
the presentation will be done using the AAC tool.  Sort of “walking
the walk and talking the talk”- literally 😉

 

Angela Standridge, M.A., CCC-SLP, ATP

Education Specialist Special Education

Region 4 Education Service Center

7145
West Tidwell

Houston,
TX 77092-2096

Phone:
713-744-6831

Fax:
713-744-6311

Email: amstand@esc4.net
www.theansweris4.net

 

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