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.

8 Responses to Tour of the Tobii

  1. Ginger Sanchez says:

    How exciting. Thank you for showing us how Tobii works. I can’t wait to hear more from you.
    Hugs, Ginger

    • C. L. Roth says:

      Thank you for stopping by and watching. Most of all I thank you for leaving a reply. Joshua and I enjoy sharing our journey. We’re so excited and happy that Josh finally has a way to speak. We have no idea where this will take us.

  2. Congratulations on your progress so far with the Tobii, Joshua. What a wonderful invention this is for you and how freeing it must be to have the opportunity to communicate verbally, something most of us take for granted. God bless you in your learning and in your pursuit of this innovative method. Congratulations also, Carol, for securing this opportunity for Joshua. You are both to be commended for your patient endurance, hard work and obvious love for each other.

  3. Yvonne petrie says:


  4. Johnny and Carol Thornton says:

    Hi Carol and Josh, we have enjoyed following your progress with the Tobii. We think it is wonderful that Josh can communicate now. We will be watching Face Book and E-Mails for any further progress. This Tobii is amazing.

    • C. L. Roth says:

      We’ve tried many different kinds of communication devices. This is the first one that gives Joshua the hope of a more normal existence. He’s striving to become functional enough to take a placement test at the Jr. College that would allow him to receive adult education. He tells me he wants to be a writer. If he can accomplish that he may be able to work, and that is a goal that was never in his cards before. We are beyond excited. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment.

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