Wanting to be heard – a human right


Communicating, expressing wishes and feelings or simply ordering a coffee at a restaurant – language makes all of this possible. But not everyone is able to talk. Yet you are wrong if you think these people are unable to communicate.

Lacking the ability to speak can have many different causes. Some children are physically unable to speak and will never learn how to talk. In adults, a stroke may cause a loss of speech for example. In both cases, augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) can offer assistance. Whether it’s with simple chalkboards or sophisticated technical devices – the right tool is out there for everyone. Once again, visitors can marvel at and test many solutions from the AAC sector at this year’s REHACARE trade fair. On Thursday, the exhibitor lecture titled "Use of (electronic) communication aids for various user groups", introduced different options and devices. 18-year-old Justin was happy to show the audience how he operates his device using an eye control module.

Friederike Mönninghoff of REHAVISTA explains, "There is a wide range of products, ranging from static devices like the ’GoTalk‘ all the way to sophisticated communication aids that are operated using eye control. You need to decide which device is best for the respective person. Cognitive abilities and motor skills need to be determined; the best possible care cannot be provided until then. An assessment of the environment, for instance by physicians, therapists or educators also plays an important role".

Practice makes perfect

No matter which communication aid people choose, it needs to make users feel comfortable and secure when they use it. The rule is: the more complex a device is, the more the user needs to practice using it. This especially applies to communication aids that contain eye control technology. There are special programs that help users get acquainted with using the device. Mönninghoff adds, "The eye control technology takes some practice. Software such as ‘Look To Learn‘, helps users to learn how to use eye control. We often notice that children and adolescents become very ambitious about learning this technique. They enjoy being able to finally express themselves. The mother of one user told us that she literally needs to stop her daughter on a regular basis because otherwise, practicing makes her too tired".

You are welcome to try this type of device at the different booths at the REHACARE.

Image: An elderly woman with long hair laughing with a young, blond woman; Copyright: REHAVISTA
Image: A dark-haired boy sitting in front of a talkie and attentively looks in the camera; Copyright: REHAVISTA
Image: A dark-haired boy in a red wheelchair travels over the playground; Copyright: REHAVISTA
Image: Two boys laughing at the camera. In the background a small screen can be seen; Copyright: REHAVISTA
Image: A man in a wheelchair looking at a monitor. In the background a smiling woman can be seen; Copyright: REHAVISTA
Foto: Simone Ernst; Copyright: B. Frommann

© B. Frommann

Simone Ernst