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On the Job with AAC in Colorado
Here’s an assistive technology success story perfect for both National Disability Employment Awareness Month and AAC Awareness Month. Many thanks to the Colorado AT Act Program, and congratulations to Eliane Kleingeld!
Following her total laryngectomy, Eliane Kleingeld was faced with how to return to work without her voice. Ms. Kleingeld is a nurse with 47 years of experience, and at age 71 she was not yet ready to retire.
At the AT clinic, Eliane received a comprehensive AAC evaluation and an opportunity to trial different devices with speech output to find what worked best for her.
Short-term device loans (or “trials”) are a service every State and Territory AT Act Program provides, in addition to guided demonstrations of equipment. Visitors, including the general public, come to discuss their goals, learn about AT, and borrow devices to find what works best for them in their own environments (work, home or school). Equipment loans help inform a future purchase and can also fill a short-term need (such as when an individual’s own equipment is out for repair). AT Act Programs demonstrate and loan devices to individuals of all ages, including children and seniors, and for all kinds of disabilities.
Eliane trialed SGDs with recommendations made by CIDE’s speech-language pathologist and with assistance from the Colorado AT Act Program. She concluded the Wego 7A by TalkToMeTechnologies was her best fit.
The Wego is a tablet computer with a customizable (“dynamic”) display of options for creating messages and triggering pre-recorded messages. Pre-set word buttons help build novel responses quickly and are useful for initiating and supporting social interactions. The keyboard with word prediction allows for typing unique messages.
For more predictable interactions, Eliane has programmed buttons with pre-stored phrases that may be quickly selected to convey her personality and humor, and some for use with a job interview… her number one priority.
Eliane used the Wego to obtain temporary employment with local food delivery services, and to communicate successfully with customers, staff, and her employers. In this way, she gained experience with it as she waited for the right nursing opportunity to come along.
About returning to her career, Eliane emphatically told clinic staff, “I can do everything I used to be able to do, except talk. I can do my job with this device.”
Recently this point was well-received. In July, after a successful interview using her pre-programmed Wego 7A, Eliane was offered a full-time position at St. Joseph Hospital in Denver!
Thank you, Eliane, for your dedication and essential service.
The AT3 Center, the Association of AT Act Programs (ATAP), and the Administration on Community Living (ACL) make no endorsement, representation, or warranty expressed or implied for any product, device, or information set forth in this blog. The AT3 Center, ATAP, and ACL have not examined, reviewed, or tested any product or device hereto referred.
The Assistive Technology Act Technical Assistance and Training Center (AT3 Center) is a project funded under grant award #90ATT0003 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Community Living (ACL). The AT3 Center provides technical assistance and support to AT Act Programs funded under Section 4 of the Assistive Technology Act of 1998, as amended (P.L. 108-364). The AT3 Center is a sponsored project of the Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs (ATAP). The information on this website does not necessarily reflect the position or policy of ACL, and no official endorsement should be inferred.
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