ALS Augmentative Communication Program | Speech-Generating Devices

There are many different speech generating devices (SGD) available with new technologies being released regularly. A thorough assessment following a feature matching process must be conducted as communication and physical access needs become evident.

While our program is "proactive" as a mantra, it is critical that an individual is assessed when real needs occur. When an SGD is acquired too early, it may:

  • not meet the specific skills and strengths of a person when a device is authentically needed
  • not be the best device when the time comes to legitimately use it
  • may be out of warranty when the time comes to use it

Watch videos highlighting speech-generating devices and voice control of the environment.

Bluetooth amplifier

A bluetooth amplifier may be used to make your speech output louder for face to face communication when using a speech generating device with bluetooth compatibility. It may also be used by some to support distance communication in the house.

For distance communication, a communication partner may carry the bluetooth speaker with them as they travel to another part of the house. When the person using augmentative communication creates a message and selects "speak," the message is spoken through the bluetooth speaker (based upon the distance supported by the speaker) and allows someone to quickly communicate a message or need to someone in another part of the house.

Success for distance communication is based on several factors including the model used, the structure of the house, the distance traveled and other factors. A bluetooth speaker should NOT be relied upon for emergency communication or urgent messages. It may, however, offer a degree of flexibility.

Feature-matching considerations

It is always our goal to minimize the need for a person with ALS to learn new software and page layout/organization when new technology is needed as a result of changes in motor status. Matching the best tools and strategies to the needs of a person, who they are today and who they may be tomorrow, is a critical part of the assessment process.

Here's a video describing using the same message bank pages and communication page layout on different platforms, accommodating different access methods:

Direct selection is not the same for everybody. An assessment must consider access that minimizes energy and fatigue and takes advantage of a person's strengths and preferences. Using an app offering the features that match the needs of an individual, then enabling a SWYPE keyboard to address best physical access was key for the individual featured in this video:

Demonstrated here is the assessment of the use of Alphacore low tech board and software on a Surface Pro 4: