Communication: how my device allows me to converse to my peers by Timothy Jong

Timothy has been supported by staff at the St Albans Community Hub for many years to gain practical writing experience.

Award winning writer and Yooralla customer Timothy Jong is continuing to develop his writing skills, edging closer to his National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) goal of becoming a professional writer.

Timothy has been supported by staff at the St Albans Community Hub for many years to gain practical writing experience, preparing articles for the Hub’s quarterly newsletter.

We are very lucky to have had Tim share a number of his published works with us, which we will share over the coming weeks. We hope you will enjoy them!

You can read Tim’s second piece about his experience using a communication device below:

Communication: how my device allows me to converse to my peers

One form of communication that comes in handy whenever people can't understand me is the speech automated device Allora. Most people who are around me understand my speech pretty well, but the Allora allows me to express my views to people who don't understand one or two words. I take the device wherever I go, just in case I have to chat to someone. I use the device on my tray with velcro to make it secure.

This updated version of the Allora has new features, as well as the functions which were already on the previous version. Such as, you could connect the device to your television through Bluetooth, for people who are unable to hold a remote control and change the channel on the television. The other interactive feature is you can stick a SIM card at the back of the device to call and talk to people like a phone. Also you could adapt a switch to operate the Allora 2, which it scans on the screen. Once the letter or word you want is highlighted, you just press the switch to add it to the sentence.

I think one useful function I can use on it is I can store messages to make it faster for me and for who I want to have a conversation with. For example, as I’m travelling in the taxi, if I have something I want to say to Vanessa, the service leader at my day centre, I type up what I want to say before I get there, then save it under the abbreviation “van”. Once Vanessa is free to have a chat, I just press the letters “van” and then the stored message pops up. When I want to chat to someone who’s busy, I save my message until the person is available to talk to me.

When I have a support worker on the weekend, I use the device to tell the taxi driver where I would like to be dropped off. Half an hour before I want to return back, I just type a few letters that correspond with the taxi driver’s name, to pull up their mobile number. While I’m out with the worker, I punch in “FF” to bring up the message “Can I please have a” and then I finish the sentence with what I want to buy. Sometimes people can’t hear the Allora even when I put the volume loud, but I still get the goods even when the worker has to tell them for me!

Another way I communicate to people, but this way on a global scale is Facebook. I use Facebook as a tool to stay connected with family and friends. Wherever I add people, I can post comments on their interesting posts, keeping in touch where all of your contacts can see. Or if you like to keep stuff to your chest, you could use Facebook messaging app to privately chat to your contacts. In the app called Messenger, you can send people stickers to express how you’re feeling and just chat to the person one on one. I really like how you can call people and see their faces using the messaging app.

Overall in my condition, communicating is important for me to say what I want and explain what I mean. With patience and my spelling skills, I see myself through whenever people misunderstand me, even when they get the wrong idea. From communicating through a basic communication board, spelling the letters out to people -I’ve seen how forms of communication evolved as we get new technology over time.

Read more of Tim’s work soon, with his upcoming article Why friends matter being published in the coming weeks.

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