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I get so weary of my daughters and the fighting.
Not with each other, mind you, but with Siri. It seems that Siri, while offering a wealth of information, first needs to understand the question. Not always an easy task for someone with a disability. Specifically, Cerebral Palsy.
This new age of technology continues to open doors for our daughters!
But it also brings some disappointment. It didn’t take them long to hone their skills at navigating their iPads. They started with Skyping and moved to Facetiming and calling through Messenger and never looked back. The visual photos allows them to get things right despite the inability to read. Well, almost right. (Sorry to your boyfriends and spouses who post their photo with you in it…they have probably been accidentally stalked and contacted.)
Your photos, and their own, on Facebook have provided them with hours and hours of enjoyment. So have your YouTube videos. (I am currently anxious to hear the next vlog from some family Ci watches at breakfast…I sure hope that Baby’s surgery went well! Whatever his name is…..)
Sometimes they are motivated to painstakingly copy words and sentences to communicate things. Sometimes they hold a finger on the record spot just right and can send a message. And sometimes its just appropriate emojis that portray exactly the thing they hope.
But just as often, they cannot get the information they are looking for due to being misunderstood.
One evening I was startled to hear Siri scolding a daughter for what she “said” and suggesting she follow a link to “how to behave appropriately”. I mean, how could I not laugh! After tuning out all the back and forth she had gone through in attempt to tell Siri her question, I just HAD to go see what Siri had interpreted…good thing she doesn’t read! Inappropriate!
Recently, after attending a seminar for using technology to assist persons with disabilities in the home, we had a consultation.
I was fortunate enough to get to hear Kirby Smith from SUNKIRB IDEAS give a presentation to learn how he used his knowledge andautomated their home using readily available, comparatively low cost, consumer electronics and not the high cost adaptive technology products catering to those with disabilities.
By the time he left we became very excited to pursue techy products to provide security, assist with doors, lights, and lists. yup. lists. If you know my kiddos, you know they are constantly asking what the plan is…today, this weekend, next weekend, next Christmas. They want to know the weather forecast for each of those times as well. Then they want to know what they should pack for each outing and who is all going. The lists and plans go on and on. Kirby was explaining ways to use an Echo to accomplish getting this info on their own.
And here we are again. Back to technology understanding their speech. I have found three ideas to make this happen.
1. We are starting with Echo Dots.
The idea of having these low cost speakers in their rooms is that they will be able to privately practice words they want. First up, clearly saying “ECHO”. I mean, the alternatives are: Alexis, Computer, Amazon. So, “Echo” it is. (Who decided on those names, anyway?) Apparently, having an Echo is great therapy. No doubt it will be VERY motivating. Once they are able to wake it up they can help it learn their voices and begin to turn on smart lights, set alarms, check the weather, and, blessedly, check the schedule.
2. Should that not come together, we have a back up plan…Apps.
We may as well use technology to access technology. There are many picture to speech apps…but as I search them no ONE stands out. If you have had any experience with this I would love for you to share it in the comments! The idea would be to have an icon to say “Echo” and then different icons to match the phrases they are looking for. I think in the worst case scenario we could record our voice saying key words: Echo, What is on my schedule, What is the weather, Turn on Bed light, and so on.
3. And finally, help the tech companies develop technology that recognizes all kinds of speech.
I was so encouraged to watch this video from Google about Project Understood. It’s so exciting! As one participant, Josh, states on the website:
My friends can understand me,
Why can’t voice technology?https://projectunderstood.ca/
If you or someone you love has Down syndrome, would you consider donating your voice to this project? You will simply read and record different phrases as a matter of research over about 2 weeks time frame. They are thanking participants who are eligible with gift cards. I think Google says it best :
Voice interfaces have now been sold in millions of products ranging from smartphones, to vehicles, to home devices. These systems offer endless possibilities for enhanced living. But as it currently stands, the technology is not optimized for use by people who would benefit from it the most: people with disabilities. Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) can greatly improve the ability of those with speech impairments to interact with everyday smart devices and facilitate more independent living. However, these systems have predominantly been trained on ‘typical speech’. But not all human speech is the same.https://projectunderstood.ca/
I will keep you posted! Please share more ideas below!
It sure is an adventure!