In this section we hope that you will be able to get an idea as to how the ‘Allora 2’ could benefit someone who experiences communication difficulties because of key medical conditions. We have only listed a few but there are many that the Allora can be used with. Click on the name of the condition below for more information.
Remember, your selection of a communication aid should be done with the advice of a qualified speech and language therapist who will ensure that the needs of the user are effectively met.
Multiple System Atrophy (MSA) is a relatively rare condition in the UK affecting approximately 3000 people in the UK at any one time. MSA is a progressive neurological disorder that affects men and women through the degeneration or atrophy of nerve cells in multiple areas of the brain. It can affect many physical aspects of one’s life including movement and speech.
For more information on MSA take a look at the MSA Trust website which can be found here: www.msatrust.org.uk
Jayne has an amazing sense of humour and lives with her partner Chris and her cute little Yorkshire terrier dog, Lilly.
Jayne was diagnosed in her early years with OlivoponticerebellarAtrophy (OPCA), one of the Multiple System Atrophy (MSA) group of conditions. This condition affects her movement and ability to speak. In the UK, there are 3000 people diagnosed with an MSA condition every year.
In May 2013, Jayne’s speech and language therapist recommended that she supports her verbal communication with the Allora 2. The Allora 2 is a keyboard based communication device that reads out text that is put together through typing or through using a switch. The Allora 2 at first seemed to be a good fit because Jayne was able to put sentences together using one switch scanning with her left hand and then press the buttons that allow her to speak the text or access menus with her right hand.
Jayne used to use a similar device but the brightness of the display and the size of the text started to become problematic. So with a brighter daylight readable display and an adjustable display font, Jayne was able to clearly see what she was typing. With the detachable partner display and loud speakers, Jayne’s partner Chris was able to hear and see what Jayne was saying to him clearly thus ensuring that he could meet her needs and requests.
When she first got the device Jayne said, ‘I can see the letters very clear and nice and big. I have tried other communication aids but I have found that the Allora 2 is the best one for me’. But that was almost two years ago. How is she doing now, many months later?
In that time, Jayne has been in frequent contact via SMS text using her Allora 2. She regularly keeps in touch with her mother as well as her speech and language therapist.
I visited Jayne, in March 2015 to see how she was getting on. I arrived at about 15:30 in the afternoon and I checked the battery level on Jayne’s device which showed a healthy 60% . Jayne and Chris charge the Allora 2 every night but Chris stated that the Allora 2 easily gives Jayne all the battery life she needs to get through the day. This is useful as this builds confidence in leaving home with the device and relying on it for communication.
Chris mentioned that he often needs to go out for shopping and other tasks and is comforted by the fact that Jayne can send him an SMS Text directly from the Allora 2 whenever she needs to contact him.
When talking with Jayne I noticed that she is still using her right hand to press function buttons and the left to use one switch scanning to write sentences. We discussed various aspects of her use of the Allora 2 and it seems that her device is only a part of her strategy for communication. She still has a little ability to use verbal communication and she uses body language a lot too, to get her message across. The Allora 2 seems to fit in nicely with her communication strategy.
Before I visited Jayne, I contacted her speech and language therapist for her comments on Jayne’s use of the Allora 2. Anna responded by saying ‘I would be happy to make some comments for you- as you know though- Jayne will be able to give you some great feedback herself I am sure.‘
I was delighted to see that Anna was right and that Jayne could indeed tell me what she thought!
Motor neurone disease (MND) is a progressive neurological condition that can affect the muscles that are responsible for one’s speech. Approximately 75% of people that contract MND find that their speech is affected to a greater or lesser extent. This condition can also affect the muscles in the arms, hands or legs, it is helpful if access to a communication aid can be varied by moving from the keyboard to a switch based access method or to use both options inter-changeably when it suits the user.
The Allora 2 is designed so that it can work interchangeably via the keyboard or by using one or two switches with scanning to produce word and sentence messages. The use of the word prediction speeds up the communication process.
The device can also record speech digitally and so provides the option to use pre-recorded messages that are accessed on the keyboard or via the switch.
Useful link: www.mndassociation.org
Cerebral palsy (CP) is a condition that occurs due to damage to the brain before, during or after birth and sometimes during early childhood. The affects of this condition are varied and usually are exhibited through motor disorders which can be accompanied by problems with speech (dysarthria).Depending upon the nature of the condition, anyone with CP who has problems with their speech but is literate could use an Allora 2 to communicate effectively with access via the keyboard or switch. The device can be interchangeably mounted on a wheelchair as required using the novel ‘in use’ case which provides good access to the device whilst still protecting it from everyday knocks and accidents. Being able to contribute to discussions at the pace of the conversation is important and so Allora 2 has been designed to speed up the process by way of word and phrase prediction as well as being able to store key phrases accessible just by pressing a button.
Lee Ridley a.k.a Lost Voice Guy recently reviewed the Allora in his blog. Click here to take a look:
Helen Quiller – Trustee of 1Voice & advocate for independent living.
“I finally managed to get my new aid the Allora 2 in May 2015. This has made a huge difference to my life and how much I can communicate with everyone, family, friends, and strangers. My Grandfather has always struggled with understanding my speech, because he is very hard of hearing. This has always meant that we have never been able to talk alone without help from a third person. However since I have got my new aid, we can suddenly have a proper conversation alone without help, and this has meant so much to us both, after so many years of silence. It has also helped me start talking to my little Nephew more and has helped him realise that Auntie Helen can understand and talk to him.
The aid has also really helped my confidence in group situations with my friends and strangers, where as before I have tended to hold back and just listen to conversations going on around me, where as now I feel more confident to speak up and get involved talking to people.
It is also helping me communicate with new personal assistants who I sometimes have through the agency, who don’t understand or know me very well at first.
The Allora 2 has also helped me join the twenty first century, as it now has the ability to text to a mobile phone. This means that contacting my friends is much easier now, and I can enjoy chatting to my friends easily and more often.”
A little while ago we announced that Epping Forest College had helped two of their students who live with cerebral palsy, find a voice. Here is their article below and if you want to find out more then feel free to contact them by clicking the EFC icon:
Two students from Epping Forest College have been given a “voice” for the first time thanks to new communication technology.
Gavin King and Susan Collins are students in the College’s Preparation for Life and Work (LDD) department. Both students are in their late 50s, and have cerebral palsy. Susan has no speech whatsoever and Gavin has virtually unintelligible speech, leaving him repeating the most basic of messages over and over again until his communication can be understood.
After years of trying to teach and find alternative forms of communication that they could use, tutor Andrea Slade came across a device that she thought could be the answer.
The new assistive technology they now have are electronic AAC (Augmentative & Alternative Communication) devices called Allora 2, which have given them both a voice for the first time. The devices allow Gavin and Susan to communicate using text to speech.
Andrea said: “I’ve been working with Gavin and Susan for 7 years to find an answer to their issues, trying signing, using symbols, basic electronic communication devices etc, until finally I found the perfect solution.”
“I am the College lead and link for ICE (Inclusive Communications in Essex) in Chelmsford, and after a recommendation from Jason Boyce the Resource Manager, I contacted Ian Foulger from Techcess, developers of the Allora 2, who brought the devices for Gavin and Susan to test.”
After trialling the devices for the first time, Gavin and Susan had found something that could meet their needs. However, at a cost of over £3,000 each, the devices had a hefty price tag. The hunt for funding then began.
After exhausting all usual routes of funding without success, Andrea made an application with The Sequal (Special EQUipment and Aids for Living) Trust, a national fundraising Charity that is committed to bridging the communication gap for people with disabilities of all ages throughout the UK.
After considering the students’ cases, the Trust agreed to raise the funding needed for the devices. The College made a contribution, with the rest of the funds coming from private donations. Eventually the finance was in place, and the Allora 2 devices were bought.
Gavin said: “This has been nothing less than life changing for me.”
Susan said: “This has given me a voice for the very first time in my life.”
“We would both like to say a massive thank you to both Sequal and Epping Forest College for helping us to finally be able to talk freely with our friends and families.”
A stroke happens when the supply of blood to an area of brain tissue is interrupted in some way, for example, by a blood clot or a bleed. When starved of oxygen, the affected brain cells start to die and a brain injury occurs. This can lead to problems with the ability to speak or being able to find the words that express thoughts and feelings (dysphasia/dysarthria). The Allora 2 might be helpful if the person has retained some ability to read and write but they are having difficulty with their speech.
The Allora 2 not only enables the user to type what they want to say, but also uses a word prediction tool that will help the person to formulate their sentences of choice ready for communicating. By simply selecting words observed on the screen whilst typing, the user can quickly get a sentence together and spoken from their device.
Being able to record spoken key messages and playing them back can help the user to get their point across more effectively or get the attention of others.
Children and adults with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder may experience challenges with communicating and especially initiating conversation. Devices such as the Allora 2 have been shown to assist communication, reduce frustration and therefore improve behaviour. The Allora 2 can be used in all aspects of day to day living and is designed to be used in conjunction with a PC so as to be able to transfer text from the PC to the Allora 2 for reading out in class or at work. Using text to speech, recordable sounds and vocal phrases as well as sending SMS texts encourages total communication.
Useful link: www.autism.org.uk
An acquired brain injury could happen via a traumatic episode such as a Road Traffic Accident (RTA) or by contracting a disease such as encephalitis. It is possible that the persons ability to speak could be affected. Whether in a hospital ward as a temporary measure whilst the voice is temporarily out of action or during the rehabilitation process or as a long term solution the Allora 2 could help support communication. Contact your speech and language therapist for guidance in this area.
Useful link: www.headway.org.uk
Don’t forget that for more information regarding communication you can get in touch with Communication Matters, a charity that supports people who find communication difficult because they have little or no clear speech. www.communicationmatters.org.uk
Please note that it is essential that when considering a communication device that you engage with a speech and language therapist who specializes in Augmentative and Alternative Communication.
Click this link to find an assessment service local to you: www.communicationmatters.org.uk.