Link April 2019 Link April 2019 - Page 38

mobility and assistive technology Meredith in her favourite coffee shop, Julian’s Kitchen in Melbourne. Meredith (left) with Tracy Shepherd co-chair at ISAAC conference. “When I first lost my voice, there were only communication boards.” Meredith lost her voice at 10 years old due to a traumatic brain injury. “Apps are more acceptable in the general community,” she said. LIFE IN THE APPS LANE Meredith Allan is the World President of the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC). Link contributor Julie Moss interviews Meredith about iPad apps, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and the perils of predictive text. “I was at a bakery ordering what I wanted, and the customer beside me said, ‘That is what the iPad is meant for’.” They are also light and portable. “The old Lightwriters (early communication devices) took a toll your neck and back,” she said. Still, iPads aren’t for everyone. M Meredith advised communication aid users to do their research: “Apps eredith retired from work aren’t always the best devices – (they four years’ ago, but said she are) useless when saliva gets on them. has never been busier. And young people don’t always ‘click’ She works as a communication access advisor and is studying between apps and dedicated University. Last year she co- communication devices. chaired the ISAAC International “I use my iPad 99 per cent of the Conference on the Gold Coast. time for communication, but the NDIS “We had 1,138 delegates plus exhibitors, volunteers and support workers,” Meredith typed, between Catching up at her favourite café, Meredith talked to me using the iPad app ‘Flip Writer’. She typed out says it’s a computer,” she said. NDIS will pay for the apps but not the iPad. “I cannot believe NDIS refused the World President of AAC a communication device,” she said. “Communication access is a messages on her side of the screen growing area (and) Australia is leading and it appeared on my side of the the world.” screen as text. A tap of a button and the message was spoken. “I also lecture occasionally at She handed me her card – it said she was based in Canada! “That’s where my team is based,” she said. I various universities,” Meredith said. asked what they did. “All the [her hand She uses ‘Proloquo4Text’ for that. hovered over the iPad] jobs.” “I use it for speeches … there’s more memory and storage and it has an excellent back up service,” she said. mobility and assistive technology She talked about the differences for a Master’s degree at Deakin sips of an iced-chocolate milkshake. 38 with iPads or tablets.” “Word prediction will be the death of me,” she grinned.