Name: Brandon Rummel
Home: Dripping Springs, Texas
Product: Tobii Dynavox Compass on an iPad
Condition: Cerebral palsy
Ultimate Beatles fan Brandon Rummel once enjoyed his own extraordinary hour of fame. Through the power of augmentative and alternative communication technology, he guest hosted "Off the Beatle Path" on KOOP Radio, a volunteer-run community station in Austin, TX.
Shortly after he graduated from high school, Brandon and the show’s creator Rush Evans III met through mutual friends. Since then, Brandon has assisted behind the scenes at the hourlong weekly radio show.s He is great at finding fun facts for Mr. Evans to use on the air. As guest announcer, Brandon used Tobii Dynavox Compass software on his iPad, setting the mood with the British voice, his favorite on the app.
For his on-air debut, Brandon and speech-language pathologist Lesli Bassford programmed Compass together. He provided the song titles and other information for his narrative while she made sure it flowed.
Though cerebral palsy makes verbal communication and physical activities challenging for him, Brandon leads a full and fun life. Besides the radio gig, he has jobs delivering the mail at the University of Texas and a durable medical equipment company. When not working, Brandon performs with a musical group for adults with special needs and goes horseback riding. He lives on his own near his family.
Though cerebral palsy makes verbal communication and physical activities challenging for him, Brandon leads a full and fun life. While he has always felt comfortable speaking in his natural voice, not everyone understands him as well as he would like them to.
Leah Rummel says while her son has always felt comfortable speaking in his natural voice, not everyone understands him as well as he would like them to. Brandon nonetheless is good at finding workarounds, like gestures and spelling. “We’ve used all kinds of things over the years,” his mom said.
The AAC devices Brandon used throughout his youth were a partial solution at best. Mrs. Bassford recalled how he hated the one he had in high school. “It was big and it made him stand out, so he quit using it.” Brandon also experienced frustration composing messages. “He thinks faster than he can type,” Leah Rummel said.
With Compass, Brandon can say so much with so little effort. His mom keeos Compass on a separate iPad so others can help him edit the software's language content for changing situations that each day brings. "One of the things we're working on is communiocating with us when something's not right," she said.
“It’s too easy to ask yes or no. The device is cool because it lets you get more involved than that.”
Brandon’s favorite icebreaking topic with new communication partners, of course, is anything Beatles related. He took Compass on his Liverpool, England vacation so he could easily comment out loud while touring the Beatles’ birthplace.
“It’s cool to see someone who can’t really speak get their thoughts out,” said Brandon’s older brother Patrick. “It’s too easy to ask yes or no. The device is cool because it lets you get more involved than that.” The toast Brandon gave using Compass at Patrick’s wedding rehearsal dinner in Colorado ended on a Beatle-esque note: “And remember, all you need is love!” he said.