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Easter Seals Greater Houston urTalker Article

Cutting Edge Technology and The Power of a Parent

Easter Seals Article (post found here)

We at Easter Seals Greater Houston have countless stories of our clients with disabilities who are non-verbal and who were previously thought to not be at the same cognitive level of their peers, actually be cognitively higher than their peers but just needing the outlet of communication devices.  Many of our clients and their families live below the poverty level, simply due to care-giving issues and medical bills – placing expensive communication devices out of their reach. We are incredibly proud of our AT&T Assistive Technology Lab, which allows anyone in our community who has the need to try out assistive technology to be able to do so with assistance and guidance and with no charge,  and our BridgingApps.org program, which was conceived, implemented and expanded only because of a few incredible parents and their sheer will and determination.  We our especially proud of the parents who when faced with a stumbling block, figure out a way around it and share it with the world. This is one of the cases.  Thank you to all of you.   Family, friends, parents, teachers, counselors, schools and employers, etc – take a look at the training, curriculum, evaluation capabilities and therapist reviewed apps that have come out of the combination of parents and the cutting edge technology that is in the forefront of our world today.

Our son Nolan, has been non-verbal for the last 11 years. We have been working with him since the age of one on speechnolan utilizing a wide range of speech therapy, different therapists, and a wide assortment of assistive technology also known as Augmentive and Alternative Communication devices (AAC). Over the last five years we have incorporated a huge number of apps for iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad into Nolan’s speech communication tools.  We noticed that although Nolan could not speak, he began to communicate with us by showing us pictures on our smartphones. We wondered if we could design and create an app that could organize pictures in a simple, but intuitive way to facilitate what Nolan was trying to communicate. This is how urTalker Pro was developed. Many non-verbal, autistic and special needs individuals have the ability to learn and use assistive technology, but the price for specific devices can be prohibitive. urTalker was developed to be affordable .

We were invited to share information about our app at a BridgingAppsmonthly meeting and appreciated the opportunity to demonstrate how the app works and provide a copy for the AT&T Assistive Technology Lab atEaster Seals Greater Houston. Families and professionals are welcome to try out the app in the lab and give us feedback. We believe this is only the beginning, and we plan to develop additional apps, specifically one in Spanish and one targeted to those recovering from strokes.  urTalker Pro is a fully featured communication app providing affordable augmentative and alternative communication. This assistive technology app comes with fully customizable grid or “board” style views for categories and words allowing the user to grow with the app. You can start with simple 1 or 2 word communication views and move all the way up to 16 grid displays for advanced communication needs.

2013 urtalker3urTalker allow you to leverage the camera and audio on the iPad to add your own picture and sounds so individuals can fully personalize the app with their home, food, therapy or related items that help them communicate.  Our applications are designed to help individuals with communication disabilities have a voice. Our communication apps are designed to become a portable communication device that is fully customized to that individual. Whether it is a child or an adult our apps are designed for simple to complex communication and easy to configure. While every urTalker communication app comes with default categories and images, every app provides the ability to create any number or additional categories, load any type of image and most importantly record your voice for use with those images and words.

Ryan and Jody Farris

For more information please visit BridgingApps

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