Last week I was visiting a local school where several students use Tobii Dynavox devices.  I had a chance to talk with one teacher who was so excited about the progress one of her students is making using the device to communicate.

Janet, Annie’s teacher, was thrilled to share this great story about her student using her Tobii Dynavox in a creative way to share a message. A few months ago Annie was invited to a birthday party for her friend Molly.  Janet said that the time leading up to this party was like Christmas- she was so excited about it and wanted to talk about it all the time. It was a bowling party so they got the content in that topic page customized and ready, and also had the birthday page programmed with things like “I can’t wait for your party, Molly” and “What do you want for your birthday?”  Molly gave her some hints and Annie and her mom bought the gift. It was at home in the living room waiting for the big day.

For a couple days, Annie kept navigating to the Doctor topic page and selecting “wrap it up” (with the symbol of the ace bandage). When she would say it to her mom and Janet, they both asked her questions trying to co-construct some sort of pain or issue that she was talking about.  Then on a Saturday at home, Annie went to the page and said, “wrap it up” to her mom.  “Oh, Annie,” said her mom.  “I just don’t know what you mean!”  Annie was not in her wheelchair at that moment, so she crawled across the living room floor to get to the gift. Then she selected “wrap it up” again. Finally her mom got it!  Annie needed a way to express her desire to wrap that present- and she creatively found a way to say it.

This was like a light bulb going off for Annie’s parents and teachers.  She had been using a page set that was created for an emergent user, but she demonstrated some skills that showed she really was a context dependent user and needed access to more messages.  As her skills grow, she will learn that she can use other tools in her device to create novel messages, too- like keyboarding and use of core words.  It was an exciting day for Annie and she’s now enjoying opportunities to communicate in even more topics with more messages.

Have you ever had a user communicate in a topic using a message in a different sense than originally intended? Tell us about it!


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