Speaking Devices Etc.

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Distinguished member
Sep 12, 2006
I am using a lite writer and would like to know what other people that are losing their voice or have lost it use. I can't always use it so I'm looking for suggestions. Like I am going to the beach in a few weeks and I can't have it around the sand and water. Open for any suggestions, Thanks, Rhonda
Lite Writer -- How does it work?

Hi, Rhonda: Would you tell me more about the Lite Writer? I read about the DragonSpeakingNaturally on the other thread, but don't know about the LiteWriter yet. Thanks. Carol
Hi, Rhonda,
My husband has bulbar als and is now using a litewriter and a laptop with etriloquist on it. We just got back from the beach and he used a dry erase board for the beach last week. Good luck and have a great time!
gapeach- Susan
Hi Montana Carol,
The lite writer is a typing device, you type and it speaks or you can type and they read the screen on the other side. It weighs less than 5 lbs. I carry mine in a tote. You can contact your speech therapist for all the info. on speech devices.
Not that it would be good for the beach--but my husband has an ERICA eye gaze system from Eye Response Technologies....it was the unit featured on that ER episode where a guy had ALS about ayear or so ago. He loves it because it combines a computer with a speec device--he used to have to have both in fornt of him and then hard to trigger with his head mouse..now the speaking device is in the computer and also he can control all our remotes with it (TV, etc) could do light switches too. It can mount on a wheelchair but he isnt moving around anymore in his wc so we have on a table in front of him in his recliner.

we regret that we first bought an expensive comm. device (Vanguard by Prentke Romich) using Medicare and then didnt like it and when we bought the ERICA we had to pay out of pocket (got a grant from MDA too). Medicare will pay for the ERICA, but you can only get one device every five years. WIsh we had researched more!

My husband also used the ERICA system. I highly recommend it. Our only issues were with it's sensitivity to light. Our family room is very open with lots of windows and at various times of day, the light would cause the mouse to lose some precision. But we gradually learned different ways to turn his wheelchair to make the light less of a problem.

Before you purchase a device, I recommend that you try them out. We actually tried out several at our ALS clinic and the speech pathologist helped us figure out which would be best based on Thomas' progression.

Thanks, All!

Thank you, Rhonda, Beth, and Kathy. The Lite Writer must be pretty much like this Model Talker software I've downloaded, where I've recorded my own voice and will be able to type and have a laptop or a Dynavox (?) speak for me if I become unable to speak. The ERICA program sounds great if I get so I can't type. I will consult with a speech therapist for more information, but thank you so much for your feedback. Are most other people comfortable talking to someone who has to use one of these machines? Or are they embarrassed and reluctant?

I can't imagine how you wonderful caregivers of disabled spouses or parents manage to cope with the physical and emotional stress each day. God bless you for your love and dedication to your loved ones.

So far I have used the litewriter with friends and family and they seem fine with it. When I go to Dr. or out shopping I always type up a list and print it out. Being embarrassed about anything now is over with for me. I know at first I was but none of us can help what has happened to us. One positive thing to come out of this ALS mess it made me deal with pride.
We were thinking of purchasing the Vanguard Plus. Is this the model you were unsatisfied with? Husband's speech is in need of a communication device like yesterday. Prefer the Eyegaze system from what I have heard about this device. LC Technologies, Inc. sent us a DVD on theirs. Have you heard of this one? Would appreciate your input on the communication devices.
Thank God for this site and the information each of you are volunteering to give to us newcomers.

Yes the Vanguard Plus from Prentke Romich Company is what Shannon had...what we didnt like is that the voice is very synthetic sounding compared with some of the devices that have very real sounding voices. (Our dog understands the ERICA voice but never even knew that the Vanguard was addressing her!)
The other thing we didnt like is that he had to have his laptop set up next to it--it has no computer...so he required two devices in front of him.
Prentke Romich will rent you it on a trial basis so you can try it...we just took it because we were so overwhelmed/inexperienced and thought it was the best available because it was recommended by our speech person.
It did have a nice feature to program in the remotes to control the TV and stereo, but ERICA has that too.
If you are in need, I would mail you this Vanguard, if there will be a wait for you guys and you need something now....Let me know--but send private message so I be sure and see it...Beth
Eyegaze Lc Tech

I don't know about the ERICA (sgd), but I can tell your about the L.C. Techknowledgies EYEGAZE. This is a self contained unit that does not require a second screen like a laptop or a desk top. Medicare picked up 80% of the cost and with the MS grant it's not to unreasonable. This is the state of the arts techknowledge. Many PALS that work use this device to write books or newspaper articles daily. My 5 year old responds to this thing so well that I am finally able to participate with her homework. The speach program allows 3 different voices. Two of which are men and one is a womans's voice. I switch to the woman's voice to read or write her stories that I can play back to her. When I need to be daddy, I just switch back to the male voice. This device works via my dominant eye. My Eyegaze screen is supported with an arm that swivels up & down and sideways also. It holds my screen in front of my face ,about 2 feet away, so I can view the other sights without obtrusion. I look at the letters on the screen and the device types them above the letters. Then I can play back the sentinces I've written to whomever. My daughter will talk for about 15 minutes, but my wife and 22 year old son will talk for hours. It took me one night to memorize the locations of each letter and in no time I was typing out sentinces as fast as a letter in less then a quarter of a second. So on good days I can really fly. This device can be connected to my pc so I can use all functions of my computer as well as surfing the net. It can also be mounted to my wheelchair for mobility. This device works so well for me because I am completely dependant on my caregivers for everything as my arms,leggs,voice and eating do not function. I am also vent dependant so I dont think it gets any worse for us PALS and this EYEGAZE is one of the mordern pieces of equipment that has given me the will to outlast this ugly disease.
Choose for whats ahead and try to be one step ahead of ALS and you can be around for a long time.
God bless you and love to you.
I've got a question for those of you in the know. With either of the eye controlled systems (ERICA or EYEGAZE). How do you click to select? I see how the camera tracks the eye movement but once there, then what? Is it simply a pause? I am doing my research early but haven't yet seen one of these in person and just want to know. Thanks for the great info.
Does anybody know if thesde programs work with any software? I mean, could I use the eyegaze program with some of my favorite graphics design programs? Cindy
ERICA system

My sister is using the ERICA system (though still with head control and not needing to use the eye gaze technology part of it). It isn't a perfect system, but it is immensely helpful. The software is loaded onto a small tablet computer (touch screen for us caregivers). The computer is a fully functioning Windows XP, so anything that is compatible with the computer can be used with the ERICA system. The clicking works by the PALS holding their gaze (or pointing the dot on their forehead or glasses) for a specified period of time (which you can adjust), and then it causes it to "click" like a mouse. If you want to type into a program or Word or type in a URL, you use the ERICA keyboard at the lower part of your screen and it inserts what you type where you want it to go.

My sister is getting used to it, and since she was not computer savvy, she may be taking longer than expected. But at least she has the capacity to fully use a computer and speak! I think that whatever program requires a mouse or a keyboard, you can adapt to ERICA because your mouse or keyboard just becomes your retina or your forehead dot.
What about Word/Phrase Prediction?

I banked my voice with the Model Talker software people (SRL, AgoraNet Inc.), and have finally received my synthetic voice program -- all FREE. These guys are SO great! I'm not thrilled with the quality of my synthetic voice, but as I said to them, I wouldn't trade it for the samples I heard on the Model Talker.com website. And they let me record and upload over a hundred "custom phrases" -- family names with unexpected pronunciations, common endearments and greetings, etc. -- which sound exactly as I recorded them, not electronic sounding at all.

Now, I want to know if I can use the ERICA system and program it to speak a phrase with just a couple of keystrokes or head control or eyegaze clicks. Especially these custom phrases that sound exactly like my voice. The fellers at SRL said any AAC (augmentative communication) devices and methods that support Windows/SAPI 5 voices should work fine with ModelTalker, including word prediction capability. Has anybody here learned to use this technique and set up your machines for it?

I was impressed by one poster (in this thread?) who said he learned to use his system in one evening and can enter letters really fast. I want to know more! Thanks for any advice!

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