Tour of the Tobii

Communication is a concept most people don’t think about. They learn to babble as toddlers and language develops but for some, either through trauma or disease, the ability to speak isn’t there.

My son, Joshua, due to birth trauma has been non-verbal for 33 years. About every ten years we would have him evaluated always hoping technology would develop a way for him to have expressive language. And it happened. Tobii Dynavox has created a computer with voice capability that can be accessed and controlled by using the eyes.

Joshua chose the Tobii eye-gaze computer. It is a system that will grow as he learns. In this session, he is taking you on a tour of the possibilities at the touch of his…eyes.

Joshua is multi-physically disabled with normal intelligence. He understands everything and can follow instructions. He’s an amazing person and I’m so happy you are getting to meet him.

I honestly thought, when Joshua got this system, that we would explain it to him, he’d understand it, and immediately be able to effectively communicate. I was wrong. I didn’t understand the complexity of communication. I didn’t fully understand the gaps in Joshua’s education or the duality of Joshua’s ability vs. his understanding.

When we first got the system it was geared to a child much younger than Joshua. It had categories that he would never need and a simplicity that insulted him. He was understandably upset. That first system was the one he used for the first month until we could meet with the speech therapist and explain our problem.

She showed us another level. There are lots of levels and ways to customize the system. So Joshua went home and had to learn level #2. It still didn’t meet his needs but he used it and got used to the set-up. But it didn’t allow him internet access and he was determined that he would be able to use email.

So, back to speech we went, and level #2 was replaced with #3. This one was better. We liked it a lot and Joshua was doing really good with it but it didn’t go from one place to another easily. It still limited him so we went to option #4. This is the option he still uses and I honestly don’t think it will be the last one. But this one is challenging enough and embraces all the elements that he needs to learn so this is where he works.

He uses icons for quick communication and needs. Each board is topic related and each square on each board can be customized specifically to him. This takes time to change what each square says. But its fast, he can share what he does, what he needs, and what he wants.

From the icons he can jump to a keyboard. He spends a lot of time on the keyboard learning how to spell. And how to recognize words and names. The board on option #4 has both word recognition and phrase prediction. As Joshua learns to spell and recognize phrases he can choose from the options and his typing will get much faster. There is a lot of potential in the keyboard. This is where I think Joshua will end up being.

There are lots of other things the Tobii does and every week we’ll share a part of it. Please subscribe to the newsletter so you won’t out on future videos.

Joshua and I have big dreams. And we’ve barely started our journey. It’s our pleasure to share the adventure.

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