“Before We Start Talking…” - One Gentleman’s Take on AAC Etiquette

Published: 09/05/2018 14:41

Mike Thomas is rediscovering the power of communication through his use of a Tobii Dynavox I-15+ device controlled through his eye movements. A stroke left him unable to speak and with locked-in syndrome, a rare condition that also prevents him from using his arms and legs.

During a recent presentation at the Tobii Dynavox Pittsburgh office, Mike shared his top tips for interacting with someone using an AAC device. He graciously gave us permission to pass them along to our readers.

“Please don’t read the text until I'm finished. Better yet, let me use the speaking function once I'm finished. This would make things easier for me. Impatient people are very hard to talk to. My spelling the words in a sentence is not a game to guess the next word. I understand that you’re only trying to help speed things up, but it is usually just frustrating and rude to me.

Wait until I am able to answer your question before jumping to the next. Realize that I can only write words at a much slower rate than you can speak. Please make sure that I am done talking to you before you leave. Many times I am typing one last thing before someone leaves and it never gets heard. 

Sometimes my eyes get tired and I can't control the cursor anymore. Likewise, some drugs, pain, tears and pressure just trying to speak quickly make it difficult. The more you know the reasons, the better chance you'll know that I'm not just not ignoring you.

"Please make sure that I am done talking to you before you leave."

Mike Thomas

These are the main things that I would like people to know before we start talking. I think one of the worse things that occurs quite often is when someone asks a question then changes the subject. Most of the time I finish typing my answer and play only half to remind them what the question was. Sometimes I just stop, then delete what I didn't get a chance to finish.”

We thank Mike for his visit and his insights.  Click here to read more on AAC etiquette.

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