Chancellor's Check-Up: Speaking Through Technology - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

4/18/04

Chancellor's Check-Up: Speaking Through Technology

Certain diseases and conditions can result in difficulty speaking. Dr. David Smith explains the technology that makes it possible for some to communicate who were not able to before.

The voice output communication device makes communication possible for those who are unable to speak because of a disease or condition. Rajinder Koul, a speech-language pathologist at Texas Tech Medical Center, explains the benefits of the technology.

"They are usually used by people who have very severe speech and language impairments. That essentially means that their speech in unintelligible, people can't understand them and these devices produce synthetic speech, artificial speech, or computer-produced speech upon selection of a word or a sentence or a picture," says Dr. Koul.

The technology can be installed on a regular computer that people have in their homes.

"There are two types of devices. Basically, one what we call our dedicated communication device and this is just like a computer, but a computer that is a voice output communication aid. It produces speech upon selection of words, letters, and pictures," he explains.

Those using the device can either touch pictures on the screen or type words and sentences. The voice output device can assist a variety of patients with either parcel or profound speech impairment with such conditions as Lou Gehrig's Disease, autism, mental retardation, or even Cerebral Palsy.

The devices may be covered under Medicare and Medicaid insurance plans. For children, the devices have been purchased by the school districts and are often available to them at school.

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