Jeremy is an 18-year-old student with cortical vision impairment and cerebral palsy. Communication is a challenge for Jeremy, as he is nonverbal and has difficulty controlling his movements. As a result, it is important to communicate with Jeremy’s family to formulate goals that are meaningful to him. One particular goal was to increase social interaction with family, friends and teachers using a voice generating switch.
Lighthouse of Collier, Florida Division of Blind Services (DBS) and Jeremy’s parents all contributed to purchasing a switch, heavy-duty mounting arm and mounting plate. Jeremy’s father and brother pitched in to record approximately ten messages, ranging from hilarious movie quotes to favorite foods and music preferences. Because most of Jeremy’s movements are uncontrolled, various wheelchair mounting placements were tried to determine how Jeremy could activate the switch on his own. It was noted that Jeremy frequently moved his left hand backwards by extending his wrist. As a result, the switch was placed toward the lower part of his wheelchair, where Jeremy would extend his wrist and hit the switch with the back of his hand. Jeremy loved the switch and began to locate and activate it repeatedly. In addition to home use, the switch is transported to school and used throughout the day by Jeremy and his teachers.
The voice switch has given Jeremy a degree of control over his environment by enabling him to initiate conversation. Furthermore, it gives others information about topics relevant to Jeremy, so they can engage in meaningful conversation with him. Lastly, the collaborative effort of parents, siblings, Lighthouse, DBS and teachers demonstrates how great things can be accomplished when working together.