by Kathy Smith, MSPA, CCC-SLP/L (Speech-Language Pathologist, retired); NWACS Vice President
Scott, we have talked previously about the history of your high tech communication systems. Now, I want to talk with you about technology features and how AAC devices can interface with other technologies.
First, can you tell me the features you like the most about the ECO2?
There are two features I use a lot! At the time I was choosing this system, the ECO2 (from PRC) seemed to meet my communication needs the best. I needed to be heard clearly. My old device had DECTalk speech which at times was difficult to understand. My ECO2 has RealSpeak TTS which has given me more opportunities to be understood, especially when speaking to a group. In my job, I regularly speak to groups about disabilities. RealSpeak has really helped me be more successful doing my presentations.
ECO2 has another feature that is very important to me. It’s called Notebooks. I prepare all my presentations ahead of time by programming my talks into Notebooks. I can stop a speech to answer questions and then go back into the Notebook right where I left off. Frankly, I use shorter Notebooks almost every day. Such as when I am conducting business at the bank. l have messages programmed for that conversation, etc. I also use Notebooks to talk on the phone and help me remember tasks and important information.
What features are missing for you?
It would be nice to have a “redial” feature for phone use so that I don’t have to dial the same number. It also would be nice to have other control features for the phone.
Can you interface your ECO2 with other technologies?
Yes, I use ECO2 to talk with ‘Alexa’. I can give her commands through my ECO2 to do things for me such as turn on the TV, turn off the lights, etc. The only problem using Alexa is if caregivers are in my apartment and talking, Alexa hears them and gets confused.
Also I can interface ECO2 with my cell phone. I can dial my cell phone on the ECO2 screen, etc. I have discovered that some high-tech AAC systems do not interface with my particular cell phone. That feature is important to consider during an evaluation for a high tech AAC system. And now I am trying to find a way for ECO2 to automatically mute the TV when my cell phone rings rather than using Alexa.
Tell us about some of the new technology you are using.
I use Applets through IFTTT on my computer. It is a free online service to let someone automate tasks. For example, I have set up an Applet to tell Alexa to turn on my fan when my apartment temperature is 80 degrees. Another Applet turns off my lights when I leave my apartment, which saves on my electricity bill. Alexa can also mute my TV when my phone rings, etc. I have about 10 Applets I use to help me be more independent in my apartment. Some of these tasks do not require my ECO2, but I sure do find they make my life easier and more comfortable.
Wow! Thank you, Scott! You have set up some cool electronic systems using several devices and software.
What technologies have you set up to interface with an AAC device?