Phone Options: Communication software with speaker phone

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BarryG

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Hello everyone, here is a link to a video that I was sent by my SLP. The fellow in the video could be me, I have almost the same set up for talking on the phone. For anyone with speech problems all you need is a speech device with speaking software and a speaker phone and you are all set. I use a netbook with an external speaker for volume and clarity, speech software (NextUp Talker and E-triloquist), a good voice that I purchased from Cepstral and a cordless speakerphone.

YouTube- Phone Options: Communication software with speaker phone

Making calls is easier than answering them because I am more prepared but I am getting faster and as long as the other person is not a complete ass I am able to make it work. In the past week I have talked to my SLP, my sister, my wife and a new friend whose identical twin sister passed away in 2007 from ALS. I even talked to a woman looking for donations but I didn't have much to say to her.

It is great to be able to talk on the phone again and as I have been by myself for the past week it is nice to be able to talk to someone other than the dog (who doesn't acknowledge my talker voice at all) and the cat who I wouldn't talk to anyway.

If you have trouble talking but can still use your fingers to type this is a cheap and easy way to use the phone again.
 

halfin

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A while back someone linked to this talk by an engineering manager at HP who has ALS and who has lost his speech in the past year. He is discussing the limitations of speech synthesis and some of the practical problems he has encountered.

AAC-RERC - Spread the Word - AAC: A User's Perspective

There are links to the video and also a transcript. Here is what he has to say about using speech synthesis on the phone:

The telephone is perhaps my greatest source of frustration. Some conversations go very smoothly. My greatest victories are the rare brief conversations where the calling party did not even realize that I was typing to talk. But that is the rare exception. I used to feel the same way about fooling a native French speaker with my perfect accent, which held up only as far as my limited vocabulary took me. But most of my phone conversations are difficult. I am often hung up on by people who just cant figure out what is going on. This happens most often with busy doctors offices, where triage nurses handle hundreds of calls a day, and if I am too slow to talk after being on hold for ten or fifteen minutes, they hang up on me. I think you can imagine my frustration with that. I am learning strategies that help with phone conversations. Some of my conversation partners like to have my computer click when I am typing, so they know when to be patient and wait for me to say what I'm trying to say. The only drawback of that is that it slows the pace of conversation, because I cant hear them while I am typing, which means I cant type ahead. The phone situation is improving, as I gain familiarity with what works and what doesn't, and also get more comfortable with using quick shortcuts in the system. In outgoing calls, I am working on ways to require the answering party to say something, so they cannot hang up. What I started with was, hello, this is Colin Portnuff. I use a text to speech system to talk, so please be patient while I type. Can you understand me Ok? But people often assumed that this was a computerized solicitation, and hung up immediately. I have begun to try asking a question first, and then explaining. So a conversation might go like this.
May I have customer service, please?
[female voice] I will transfer you.
[auto call attendant voice] Your call is very important to us. Please stay on the line and your call will be answered in the order received.
[female voice] Customer service, may I help you?
[Colin speaking] Are you the person who can help me with finding out order status? [female voice] Yes, sir.
[Colin speaking] I use a text to speech system too talk, so please be patient while I type. Can you understand me Ok?
[female voice] Yes, how can I help you?

[back to Colin presenting] So far, this strategy seems to be working better. In a social call, it is simpler. I just start with, Is Mary there? Even if I know it is Mary who answers, she will still have to say, this is Mary, and I can then identify myself and explain, if she doesn't know how I speak these days.

In both cases, the key is that the answering party has been forced to commit to the conversation at least long enough to figure out that I am not a solicitor or crank caller. One area where I still am struggling is in answering incoming calls. The challenge is that the phone ringing is an urgent interruption, and if I don't happen to be set up and ready, it is impossible to answer the phone and let the calling party know that I have done so. For that I am trying various solutions, including a pocket-sized voice recorder, to tell the caller that I am there and setting up my system too talk to them. So far I have had limited success, but I think I'm gaining ground. I've just changed my message to let the caller know that I can hear them talk while I get set up.
I am really going to be sad about losing my speech. It's funny because I don't actually talk that much. But looking at the videos, the one Barry posted and the one I linked to, it's obvious that ALS makes you so much a second class citizen in conversation. In Barry's video the guy makes some jokes and the lady on the phone laughs merrily, but I can tell she's faking it. She's humoring him.

The HP guy talks about how he can hold his own in email, nobody needs to know he's disabled. But now everyone's switching to chat and even video chat, and suddenly he's the crippled guy again.
 

BarryG

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Hi Hal, that was my earlier thread too, you can tell that this is an issue with me. I don't think anyone realizes how hard it is to do everyday things when you cant talk and cant just phone someone up and have a chat or phone a company to ask a question. We are trying to arrange have some work done around the house (carpentry, electrical and concrete) and I REALLY hate having to have my wife do all of the arranging with contractors.

I know that it is a guy thing but I know what I want done and how it should be done and it is hard for me to give that up.

Anyway, I do crack jokes on my talker and when my sisters were here they were rolling on the floor with my one liners so all is not lost, it is just a little slower.
 

handinhand

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Well, I need to have Rich or one of my sons look into this for me.Set me up... I am so not answering the phone anymore... Very sad..
 

BarryG

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Linda, you can do it, I know you can! I am really not a good typist and it works for me and it doesn't cost that much so I hope that you try it. We need to talk!
 

handinhand

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When my son comes here again,which will be next month. If it is ok? I will hae him get in touch with you. He is good at these things.. Neither Rich or myself are. We still don't get messages on the phone..lol That bad.. yes.. I am very interested and want to get set up... Thanks, Me
 

BarryG

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Linda, sure I would be happy to help. I will be away from Jan 29 to Feb 8 but I will have my computer and if I can get an internet connection in my one star motel I will be here. So ask away. Do you have a speaker phone? That is the first step and if you have that and speakers attached to your computer you have all the hardware and then all you need is speaking software which is free to download.

Anyway, have your son contact me here and I will help him help you.

Barry
 

handinhand

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Thaks Berry sooooooooooooo much
 
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