Accessible Tech With Tobii Dynavox

Introduction

While major companies like Apple, Microsoft, and Google are making greater efforts to improve access to learning for students with disabilities, there are some companies like Tobii Dynavox whose sole focus has always been on providing accessible tech for those who most need it. They provide AAC (augmentative and alternative communication) hardware and software for people who require it due to physical or cognitive impairments. I’ve always found them to offer responsive support and training online and in person. While ease of use and expanded functionality generally guide me towards using iPads with communication apps, there are some circumstances where a dedicated device with eye-gaze capabilities is necessary. One of the best parts of Dyanvox software is that it allows for easy customization which should be the point of communication software. Our goal should be tohelp the students find and express their individual voice as much as possible. In addition, Tobii offers a large selection of  PCS (personal communication system) apps for iOS. For more information e-mail or call them (1-800-344-1778).

Hardware

Multi-Access Devices

Dynavox IndiiThese are tablets designed specifically for AAC which means quality speakers and cameras with the built-in AAC software and the immediate ability for infrared (IR) and other inputs. The Indi is their top-of-the-line option that comes pre-installed with software for literate or non-literate speakers. For a touch-based tablet, there is the I-110 which comes with several mounting options. For those on a tighter budget, there is the T7 which is smaller but still has powerful enough speakers to fill the room. They also have a keyboard -base speech device the Lightwriter SL40 Connect.

Eye Gaze Devices

Lenovo Thinkpad with Dynavox eye gaze
These are the devices from Tobii that I have utilized the most and is my main reason for this post. The EyeMobile Plus and PCEye Plus offer multiple input options from eye-tracking, speech recognition, switch access, and IR. For smaller mobile eye-gaze systems they offer EyeMobile Mini and the PCEye Mini. Keep in mind that nearly all of the devices only work with Windows OS. So if you’re looking for a tablet option you’ll need something like the Lenovo Thinkpad 10. They also offer their own tablets with built-in eye-gaze with different AAC software options. If you’re looking to add IR functionality to a system, the EyeR is a portable USB device that can be used to control a variety of household devices.

Software

Windows

They offer general control as well as AAC and learning software. Their Windows Control software is simply a software to configure and run your Dynavox eye-gaze device. For communication software, they offer Communicator 5 which is an elegant system for literate users while Snap + Core and Compass are created for younger or cognitively impaired users. They also offer desktop versions of the communication printable software Boardmaker.

iOS

Their PCS offerings for the iPad include a version of their Snap + Core First and Compass Connect communication software. I like Compass for its ease of customization. if we are and Tobii Dynavox Compass Connect. Snap Scene is a nice language learning app for younger users. There are free or lite versions of many of the apps that you can test out before investing in a more robust solution.

Partner Software

The offerings in this category are mostly educational or recreational activities that use the Dynavox hardware. EyeFX is for younger users while Look to Learn is a package for older users. Smyle Mouse is a Windows eye-gaze software that includes a head pointer, smile clicker, and a dwell clicker. What’s helpful about it is that it can use the built-in computer camera. My favorite software is VocaliD which allows users to create their own AAC voice based on their own vocalizations or from someone similar to the user.

Content & Funding

They also offer online communication printables Core First books and literacy learning software. You can view the full collection which includes Boardmaker Online and myTobiiDynavox which helps manage your communication tools. They offer cases, mounts, and other accessories as well. Most Tobii Dynavox devices and software are covered by insurance including Medicare/Medicaid, so check out what your school/state’s process is. My district has an assistive technology team that I have the privilege of sometimes working with. Tobii gives a funding overview for those who are unfamiliar.

“When you hear the word ‘disabled,’ people immediately think about people who can’t walk or talk or do everything that people take for granted. Now, I take nothing for granted. But I find the real disability is people who can’t find joy in life and are bitter.”

-Teri Garr

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