What if You Are Unable to Talk?

Every word is part of living. So what if you are unable to talk? “What do you do to communicate?” People have been asking me that question since I was little. I tell them I use sign language for communicating with people. Then people ask me how do they understand you without an interpreter? Well, I have an iPad. That has a program called TouchChat.

TouchChat gives me a voice so that I am independent when speaking. In order to speak, I have to push specific buttons for what I want to say to people. I want to be a teacher for the deaf and the hard of the hearing. Also, I can teach hearing kids with my voice too. I can program prompts with what I want to say to the children when I work with them. I am not deaf. So some people always think I shouldn’t be communicating with sign language. They only think I need an augmentative communication device for speaking. How frustrating!

When writing about the deaf communication in the hearing world there is a big difference between augmentative communication and sign language. One is more natural and smooth so you will get your point across faster with little extra help. The other can be natural but there is more delay in communication with other people.

To have an augmentative communication device is a wonderful tool. It can open up your world in a lot of many different ways and it is better than writing everything down for people to understand you. You can program prompts with what you want to say to people. But you can’t say augmentative communication is better than sign language. Sign language is still a language. It can be taught to all of the people with disabilities who do have not good speech skills.

Some people prefer to sign for communicating because they find that it is a language that helps them to learn the material in the classrooms. Sign language is visual, it uses a lot of facial expressions, and emotions too. It is just like talking with your voice which has a natural unspoken voice (emotion) and speed (it is fast). College teachers have to lecture and answer questions fast; that is not the best time for using augmentative communication.

I have an interpreter only for classes. I use my TouchChat for to going to the tutors, advisors, and teachers’ office hours. There is also another way I use for communicating with people. It is an e-portfolio called My Life. I like the blog post feature because I can post everything I have frustration come up in my life. My support team can see them, and make comments. Their comments help me to see another way of thinking. Communication is amazing. So I can talk in different ways.

About Dorothy Miller

A first-year student at Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon, Dorothy Miller is actively pursuing a teaching certification in early elementary education. Due to her dysarthria, Dorothy uses the TouchChat program on her iPad to communicate with staff and students and is building a digital portfolio of her projects and accomplishments using the MyLife app from Cognitopia.

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