Personal blog of Liz from Kauai.

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Baha'i, Mom and Grandma, Fish Breeder, Sports Fan

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Providing a Voice

Yesterday the Rotary Club of West Kauai experienced a moving and sensible presentation by Sandra Harada, who has been providing speech therapy to Kauai students for over 40 years. In fact, Mrs. Harada was able to help my eldest son learn how to say S instead of the ESH that he spoke until he met her.

Mrs. Harada's mission yesterday was to enlighten us about new breakthroughs in technology that may provide desperately-needed help for young people who cannot speak at all.

It struck a chord with me because only a few years ago, our Tsai-ko group purchased a iTouch as a present for then Graduate Assistant football coach Brian Kajiyama. Brian is now a PhD candidate at the University of Hawaii and my facebook friend:

"Communication skills are often taken for granted, however, three special needs students at Waimea Canyon Middle School and Waimea High School don't take them for granted as they are unable to voice even their most basic needs due to hearing loss, Autism, Cerebral palsy, Downs' Syndrome or neurological deficits. These Westside students are currently using picture exchange cards, body language, jargon, and unintelligible speech to communicate, however, they are generally quiet in their classes and the community, as few people can understand them."

"Augmentative communication devices have been shown to be effective to give students a voice, however, these devices have been expensive, costing from $2,000 to $8,000, which often exceeds schools' budgets. A new AAC device, the I-Pod Touch II, and an app, Proloquo2Go came out in April, 2009, total cost $460, that could help empower these students, and this is not only cost effective, but portable, easy to use, and widely accepted among teens and adults."

"Proloquo2Go™ is a new product from AssistiveWare that provides a full-featured communication solution for people who have difficulty speaking. It brings natural sounding text-to-speech voices, up-to-date symbols, powerful automatic conjugations, a default vocabulary of over 7000 items, full expandability and extreme ease of use to the iPhone and iPod touch."

"One device is being requested to use with these three students to pilot a project on the Westside to compile data on its effectiveness. The results will serve as a basis for a federal grant to provide funding for these devices and apps for noncommunicative students across Kauai District, and later, the state. This would not only empower the students, but would save a significant amount of money island and state wide."


Anonymous gigi-hawaii said...

Excellent video! I wrote about my friend, Joanne, who overcame her Cerebral Palsy to head her own research company. She is now retired and living in her own condo near Ala Moana. She keeps busy as a writer and jewelry maker.

I wrote about her in my 3rd memoir. Take a look when you have the chance.

September 2, 2009 at 12:55 PM  
Anonymous wafan said...

Hmmm, I wonder what devices, if at all, are used at my school. We are the SpEd magnet for the district.

Good to see the help for the kids is available! Does the Rotary or any of the other service organizations help in these cases?

September 2, 2009 at 6:39 PM  
Blogger LizKauai said...

wafan, Rotary Clubs participate in support of all kinds of activities to benefit humanity. The biggest International project now is Polio Eradication.
Each individual club finds local and international projects to participate in. This particular one is relatively inexpensive and could have a major impact not only in our community but the whole state.

September 2, 2009 at 8:22 PM  

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