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May 8, 2008
If you are having trouble talking and are considering a speech device do NOT! let the speech therapist talk you into anything but a lap top. Medicare will only cover one device and it should not be a " Light writer". If you can get a light writer from an ALS loner closet , fine. They can be carried more easily than a lap top but they require the ability to type which can become difficult or impossible as als progresses and they can not do near as much as a computer. A lap top can be adapted to speak for you even if you get to a point that you can only move a foot or a knee or blink an eye. A light writer has no such capability. My wife's therapist told us that we had to take the light writer because she could not tote a lap top. This was a huge mistake. We have a lap top now and that's how my wife communicates. She spends a lot of her time online e-mailing her friends, posting on this forum and, of course, shopping. Can't do any of that w/ a light writer. Insist on a lap top with "Etriloquist", "Point & Click" and "Text to Speech" software installed.
We found that out as well. Out speech pathologist was awesome! She worked it out were Bri could get the Freedom Lite, which is a mini lap top. He uses Easy Keys, and loves it. We also have it on his regular lap top, which is the one he uses at home.

The only problem with the Freedom Lite, is if you have limited ability with your hands, it could be problematic. The keyboard is only about 10". It is does have USB accessiblity for a regular keyboard, so you would be able to still use the device. Just would have to carry the extra keyboard.
Thanks for the tip. One more reason why I love this site!

Thanks for the great tip! I was gonna PM you, but realized you haven't been on the forum long enough yet for me to do that!

Do y'all go to Emory? It seems the ALSA speech guy told us to get laptop and this contrary to some of the things from therapist. My husband is researching laptops now.

Too much stuff to figure out. One wrong move and there's a fly in the ointment!:?: Just another thing to add to the list!

Are you able to mount the laptop to her wheelchair? If so, how?

Yes , we go to Emory and Steve is our communication guy. I also was told to get a lap top but the therapist said no and I didn't insist strongly enough. If I had known then what I know now I would have hair-lipped the nation before I excepted a light writer.

We put the lap top on a stand near her chair and a lap board across her legs for the mouse. She can no longer type and has to do every thing w/ the mouse and that is getting difficult so we are going to a push button that she can push w/ her knee. I have seen lap tops mounted on a wheelchair but I didn't look at them well enough to duplicate it. I'm sure the communication guy can give you the skinny on mounts.

Hang in There


Thanks for the great tip! I was gonna PM you, but realized you haven't been on the forum long enough yet for me to do that!

Do y'all go to Emory? It seems the ALSA speech guy told us to get laptop and this contrary to some of the things from therapist. My husband is researching laptops now.

Too much stuff to figure out. One wrong move and there's a fly in the ointment!:?: Just another thing to add to the list!

Are you able to mount the laptop to her wheelchair? If so, how?

Thank you so much James!

It just chaps my a$$ that we have to rely on each other instead of the "pros!"

God help us all!
Thank you!

We are going next week for an appt with the speech therapist, but last week she was hinting at the lite writer machines (or whatever they are called). It did see pretty limited to me, but I was assuming we could get something different down the road when my father coul dnot use hands/fingers.

Again, thank you thank thank you!
Question - are speech devices the same as wheel chairs? You only get one paid for by Medicare or Insurance? I think it is best to go for the best and biggest. A friend uses a lite writer and does just fine - but she is not wanting for anything more - and it is on loan from ALSA.

Thanks for the info and tips. This is an area we're working on now as my PALS voice is just about gone. He's been using Etriloquist on his PC for awhile now and it's great. I've set up speakers in the kitchen and in our basement that run from his PC so that I can hear messages he types into Etriloquist wherever I am in the house. We've found Microsoft Mary to have the clearest voice. We also have Etriloquist on a laptop.

Our ALSA chapter's AT person brought us a DynaWrite DynaVox from the loaner closet which would be great except that the voices it generates are muffled and all have foreign-sounding accents as though English is their second language. It's very difficult to interpret what my PALS has typed and I usually just stand there with him when he types his messages and just read them rather than listening to them.

We were recently evaluated for an SGD (speech generating device) at Woodrow Wilson Rehab near us, and anticipating the eventual loss of typing ability, we are deciding on either the ECO 14 which has head tracking capabilities and can be used with a wireless keyboard, or the ERICA eye-gaze system which also has wireless keyboard capabilities as well as infra-red for head tracking.The ECO 14 does not have eye-gaze capability at this point, although there are plans to soon incorporate that capability into it.

The ERICA eye-gaze system is an even smaller unit than the ECO 14 and is therefore more portable. It can either be placed free-standing on a table and carried around, or mounted on a wheelchair. It is essentially a tablet PC and to my understanding is the only eye-gaze system that Medicare will cover. It is uncertain at this time whether Medicare will cover the eye-gaze capability of the ECO 14 when it is finally available.
Because Medicare will pay 80% toward one SGD, we want to be certain that what we end up with will carry my PALS through all scenarios: from still being able to type through to having no use of hands and/or a weak neck which would make head mouse tracking difficult or impossible.
A representative of the ERICA system is coming to our house from Maryland on Thursday to show us the ERICA system.

Good luck to all PALS/CALS. Just trying to stay 1 or 2 steps ahead. Not always easy or possible!
Oh man..
feel like we made the wrong decision when picking the dynavox. Sounds like we should have waited a little longer before making the decision. Seems like there is so much more out there to choose from. We were only shown the dynawrite and the dynavox. Hmmmmmmm
Communication Devices

My brother used a Freedom laptop with EZ Keys and we added a SmartNav 3 so he could use an infrared sensor to type with it- He had voice and everything. It worked great.He tried the click button types of machines but had better luck with the IR SmartNav- it was compatible and easier for him to use. Medicare would only pay for one machine.
I have been looking into this technology from Ambient. Unfortunately it will not be available until maybe the end of this year.

They supposedly have the ability to capture the thought to speech process and transmit it to computer.

"Thank you for your interest in the Audeo! We apologize for the delay in responding to your inquiry. We are currently on schedule to launch our first Audeo product at the end of this year, made specifically for English speaking patients with ALS in the United States.

Below are our projected United States and international release dates for the Audeo.

ALS (and adults with good cognitive ability)

· December 2008

o United States, English, ALS

· July 2009

o International, English, ALS

· October 2010

o Expansion to help those with situations similar to ALS (adults with good cognitive ability)

· November 2010

o International & Non-English, ALS

Cerebral Palsy (children and adults)

o Between October 2009 – April 2010

We appreciate your patience as we continue to expand our team to speed up our research, development, and product availability. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us via email. In order to serve you in the fastest manner possible please indicate any past correspondence and as many details as possible.

We look forward to helping you in the very near future.



This looks very exciting if it will only work! Can't wait to see!
Wow, CJ! Thanks for the post! Yet another promising technology I'd never heard of. I wonder how many more things are just waiting to be discovered. For me, it's these forums that have taught me so much. I am so grateful to so many of you.
Take care,
I posted this for barbell, who is unable to post for some reason:

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Hello. My husband can no longer talk. He was diagnosed in May 2006. He usually writes on paper or a magna doodle. He has a dynowriter that the ALS clinic ordered for him, but he doesn't want to use it. He prefers to write even though it is difficult and we don't always understand what he means. The MDA association helped with the cost of the dynowriter. Thought this information might help others and that you could pass it on. Can not post on here and not sure why. I do appreciate all the help I receive by reading. Thanks to everyone,
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