ABC’s “Speechless” and Five Facts About Communication Devices You Might Not Know

Oct 18, 2017 | by Lingraphica

In the fall of 2016, a television show called "Speechless" premiered on ABC. The television show, which is still going strong, features Maya, played by Minnie Driver, on a mission to provide for her family and eldest son, JJ, with cerebral palsy. Together, Maya and JJ fight injustices both real and imagined. 


 "Speechless" has shed light on the thousands of individuals and families who rely on communication devices, like Lingraphica's AllTalk, TouchTalk, and MiniTalk, to communicate. While the world learns more about JJ and his cerebral palsy, we want the world to also learn about communication devices. Below are five facts about these devices you might not know: 

  1. They Go By Many NamesCommunication devices go by many different names including: speech-generating devices, AAC devices, augcomm devices, low-tech devices, high-tech devices, augmentative and alternative communication devices, E2510, speech devices, etc! No matter what you call them, they're still empowering people to communicate! 
  2. Device Users Come in All Ages: JJ is one example of a communication device user. In fact, thousands of individuals of all ages use a communication device to speak to their loved ones. Some of these individuals suffer from neurological conditions like ALS or Parkinson's Disease, while others have acquired a language disorder as a result of a traumatic brain injury or aphasia. It's important to recognize that device users might need more time to communicate with you. Many users report frustration or impatience with those who they are communicating with. Keep this in mind the next time you talk with someone with a speech impairment. 
  3. Device Accessibility In an ideal world, an individual with a communication impairment would have access to a communication device all the time. While many private insurances cover a device, it's important to look at all of your options when considering one. First, check your private insurance options and see what type of coverage you have. Medicaid, Medicare, Early Intervention, and Medicaid Waiver Programs all may potentially reimburse for a device. If you're looking for a device for your child, check with their school, who should also provide an assistive technology professional. This staff member can provide an assistive technology (AT) evaluation for your child. He or she can also tell you about low-tech and high-tech speech devices on the market. For reference, JJ's device in "Speechless" is considered a low-tech device. This blog also provides a good overview for how to get an AT Evaluation for your child. If you're looking for an AAC device for an older adult, check with your loved one's speech-language pathologist or neurologist. 
  4. A Communication Device Isn’t The End of Natural Communication: A lot of caregivers are concerned that if they get a speech device for their loved one, he or she will stop trying to communicate naturally. Research shows this isn't true. In fact, Lingraphica used our communication devices with severely impaired individuals diagnosed with aphasia. Instead of regressing and getting worse, these users actually improved their natural language abilities. 
  5. Using a Communication Device Doesn't Mean a Lack of Intelligence: This is a very important point. Just because someone is using a communication device doesn't mean they are unintelligent or don't understand you. Many times people rely on devices to help with speech generation. In the case of adults with aphasia, they know what they want to say to you but have difficulty getting the words out. This is where a speech device comes into help.  

Now that you're educated and familiar with communication devices, you can happily and eagerly wait to meet a user like JJ from "Speechless." Don't forgot to join Lingraphica in an effort to continue raising awareness about language disorders and speech devices! If you'd like to learn more about Lingraphica's communication devices, please click the button below.  

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