Suggestions for adaptations_to_a_communication_board


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Suggestions for adaptations_to_a_communication_board

  1. 1. South Birmingham Primary Care NHS Trust West Midland Rehabilitation Centre Suggestions for Adaptations to a Communication Board For Fred October 2006 Chris Sherlock Speech and Language Therapist Access to Communication and TechnologyCurrently Fred has a communication/spelling board designed and made by hisfamily and workers at the centre where he lives.The board has playing cards on the back which make it quite stiff and whichFred can use to play a game. The board is an “old friend” to Fred and isfamiliar to others.At our appointment we discussed changes which could be made which mightimprove the speed/efficiency of communication for Fred using a board.Fred did not wish to think about changes at the time and this isunderstandable as the board is familiar. The idea of changes might havemade Fred worry that he might loose access to his card game.It is important to remember that these suggestions below are just that andnot instructions for change unless planned and discussed with Fred as theyare tried. Any of the ideas should be shelved if not useful. Sometimes theideas might be good for someone else even if not for Fred at the time.Whatever changes Fred might be willing to try should only be made inconsultation with Fred and he should not lose access to his game.Accessing the boardFred is reported to use his board by moving his hand over the letters to pointto his message by spelling it out. He may also access the board by PartnerAssisted Scanning (PAS): this means that Fred’s communication partner (theperson he is talking to) needs to hold the board where Fred can see it and thepartner points to the rows and asks Fred to indicate (with a nod) the row hewants. Once the row is selected then the communication partner movesacross the letters until Fred selects one (again with a nod) and so builds uphis message.The idea of access also relates to how easily Fred can show that he needs hisboard.Enhancing accessIdeas that might enhance access to Fred’s current board or an adapted onemight be:  Hanging the board where it can be seen easily by Fred. This would mean that he would be able to eye point to it to show that he wants the board. This would be useful if Fred finds it acceptable to have his board out and “on display”  Alternatively a sign could be placed so that Fred can move his hand to it or eye point (look) to it to ask for the board to be got out. For exampleC:DOCUME~1EASYPD~1LOCALS~1TempBCL TechnologieseasyPDF4@BCL@88062C7C@BCL@88062C7C.docPage 1 of 430/10/2006
  2. 2. South Birmingham Primary Care NHS Trust West Midland Rehabilitation Centre a sticker on the arm of his chair where he can move his hand to it. The sticker can have “board please” or similar written on it  Some instructions could be attached to the board that would help a new carer use the board easily with Fred. This information should also be in his care plan or what ever document is used to share and hand over information about Fred.  A write on/wipe off board of some sort or note pad and pen should be kept near by so that it is easy for the communication partner and Fred to keep track of the messages being shared. This is also a good way of collecting things that are more often communicated so that they do not need to be spelt but can be listed so that they are easy for Fred to point to or can be spoken through by a carer so that Fred can indicate the message he wants to communicate.Physical properties of the board.The board is firm and I am sure that this really helps. The board opens to giveboth the messages and spelling side at once. This is a good thing and mightmean that the suggestions below for a landscape arrangement are notappropriate but they may be worth considering.The paper is white and it may be easier for Fred to see the letters on paperthat is pale yellow or pale green, these colours as a background have beenshown to be easier for people with impaired sight. White on black is alsosometimes helpful but this is harder to organize.A copy (paper and or on computer with a written record of where) of the boardshould be kept so that a new one can be made if the main one gets lost.Design of the boardCurrently the board has the letters of the alphabet arranged in alphabeticalorder in a block and in portrait arrangement ABCD EFGH Portrait: long axis IJKL of the paper MNOP QRST UVWX YZThe size of the font (writing) seems to be suitable for Fred but it is sometimeshelpful to experiment.The letters are also in capitals and in a font with “serifs” e.g. K (the flat bitsat the ends of the “sticks” of the letters are serifs). As we read more often inlower case it can be easier to recognize the letters fast if they are in lowercase. Also serif fonts are known to be harder to read. This might make adifference if some one is trying to read Fred’s spelling when the board is at anangle to them or upside down to them, or if someone has aspects of dyslexia.If the letters are more like those on a board at the opticians everyone one willhave the best chance of reading easily.C:DOCUME~1EASYPD~1LOCALS~1TempBCL TechnologieseasyPDF4@BCL@88062C7C@BCL@88062C7C.docPage 2 of 430/10/2006
  3. 3. South Birmingham Primary Care NHS Trust West Midland Rehabilitation CentreIt might be easier for Fred to reach all the letters across the page if they werein landscape and were in a slightly different arrangement. These lay outswould probably make accessing by PAS easier too. a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z mistake space full stop Yes other side No OrLandscape: mistake space full stopLong axis of the yes nopaper a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z other sideThe “other side” request makes it easier to get to the other side of the boardfor example to the cards or the message (see below).The AEIOU arrangement of the letters puts frequent letters at the early part ofa row preventing having to wade through others to get to them when doingPAS.The mistake etc aspects help correct when things might be going wrong in thespelling etc.Message side of the boardFred’s message side of the board might be better in landscape too, with a fontthat helps all readers.Having the messages in squares or more spaced out might help withindicating them unambiguously when pointing. If they are numbered then ifusing PAS the order of speaking them will remain the same which is veryhelpful. Some space might be left for more messages to be added by hand ifneed be. Such messages might be those that come up more often on thespelling side.Add an “other side” request so that it is easy to know when to turn back to thespelling page or the cards page.Building more of a bookAs the firm surface is helpful it might be good to put Fred’s pages in to a ringbinder so that he has firm surface but more pages can be added. If using polypockets for this it may be important to have non-reflective surfaces on theseand even boards in the pockets to stop movement of the pages. AlternativelyC:DOCUME~1EASYPD~1LOCALS~1TempBCL TechnologieseasyPDF4@BCL@88062C7C@BCL@88062C7C.docPage 3 of 430/10/2006
  4. 4. South Birmingham Primary Care NHS Trust West Midland Rehabilitation Centrethe paper could be stuck on boards (like the back of an A4 note pad) and notin poly pockets so that the surface stays matt and easier to see and move ahand over. New ones can be made as and when needed, e.g. if something isspilled on the page.Pages might have tabs on them /dividers sticking out to help them be foundand turned to.If a book is being made then pages could be added of things such as  An “introduction to Fred” e.g. likes and dislikes and how he communicates using the book and in other ways.  family names, photos and relationships ( e.g. my nephew XXX is 19 and at XXX university)  a “potted” life story  card game rules  favourite TV programmes/sports/music  Having a calendar and a clock face (plus AM and PM) can also help.  Having maps of the local area/ of the building/ of the UK/ world can spark and maintain conversation.These features might allow more of conversation/activities to develop if someone was building the book and then others were reviewing such a book withFred. The features depend only on Fred’s interests and wishes but creatingsuch a book can be an interest as well as a longer term help.Things that are very personal or private/medical probably do not have a placein such a book. For some people this might be different and each person andsituation needs to be treated differently and sensitively in this areaSuch books can be called a “life book”, “communication passport ordictionary” or “supported conversation book” Indeed what is suggested aboveis a combination of the main ideas implied by these terms.I hope that that this is of help. Please ask if there are any queriesChris SherlockSpeech and Language TherapistAccess to communication and Technology0121 627 8235V:ACTStaffChris SAACCSorginatedSuggestions for Adaptations to a Communication Board.docC:DOCUME~1EASYPD~1LOCALS~1TempBCL TechnologieseasyPDF4@BCL@88062C7C@BCL@88062C7C.docPage 4 of 430/10/2006