Late one Friday afternoon a gentleman dropped into the Bismarck Demonstration Center. He came to ask about communication options for his wife. She was recovering from a stroke, and was having trouble speaking. Sadly, communication changes after a stroke are common, and they can cause mild, moderate or severe communication problems.

A friend suggested he visit IPAT to explore possible assistive technology options. He arrived with two big questions: 1) Were communication devices available through our program? 2) Is there a continuum for communication device introduction? He wanted this information so he could suggest device use for his wife with her speech language pathologist.

To answer the first question, I noted the availability of IPAT’s Equipment Rental Program which allows state residents to engage in short-term use of devices at a minimal cost. This was exciting news to him, and he immediately wanted to know what communication devices were available. I pulled up our online listing of communication devices to rent under North Dakota AT4ALL. He thought this would be a great place to begin his own education, and a ready-resource for hospital staff to share with any family going through a situation similar to his.

For the second question, I noted the work done by the Wisconsin Assistive Technology Institute, and shared their AT continuum for communication:

  1. Concrete Representation 
  2. Communication System with pictures, symbols, letters or words
  3. Simple speech generating device
  4. Speech generating device with levels
    1. Speech generating device with icon sequencing 
    2. Speech generating device with dynamic display
  5. Text based device with speech synthesis

With his two pressing questions answered, he left smiling, and stated that he felt hopeful for the first time since his wife entered the hospital. He now had options and a starting place. If you need a starting place, let us be your starting block!

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