Thursday Mar 23, 2023
Noah Callan: AAC User, Disability Advocate, and Technology Coordinator
This week, Rachel and Chris interview Noah Callan, a 25-year-old disability and inclusion advocate who is a full-time AAC user. Noah is also the AAC & Technology Coordinator at Kids+ in Australia. Noah shares about his AAC journey, including some of the changes he has made over the years, such as going from switch access scanning to using an eye gaze camera with Gridpad 12 . Noah also shares some challenging and rewarding experiences he recently had with able-bodied people, including a worker at a bank who refused to talk to him and assumed that he was not intelligent because he is nonspeaking.
Before the interview, Chris and Rachel reflect on how much gestalt language processing (GLP) was a topic of discussion at this year’s ATIA. They note that it continues to be important to ask the right questions and keep an open mind about something you are learning about, while also noting that we need to maintain appropriate skepticism. They also note that the strategy of adding a script to a device could be considered “key vocabulary”.
Key ideas this week:
🔑 If you are a family member, friend, or therapist of an AAC user, try and set a time with the AAC user to have a chat with the device each day. That way, the AAC user feels more comfortable starting their own conversations down the road.
🔑 Noah really likes his current AAC setup on a Gridpad 12 by SmartBox with an eye gaze camera. He likes the Gridpad because: it has a long battery life (10 hours with eye gaze), he likes that the design is not too big or small, and it has an option for a 2nd screen to display what he types. One good feature of the 2nd screen is, while Noah is writing his message, three dots display to help others wait while Noah composes his message.
🔑 Noah says: “Don’t underestimate what an AAC user can do. Give them all the time to deliver their message, because, what is the rush? There is absolutely no rush. Sometimes, people assume that, because I have a physical disability and am nonverbal, I can’t do things like ordinary people do. Before you judge a disabled person, you might want to take the time to get to know them and see what they are able to do. You might be surprised and also find a new friend!”
Links this week:
Noah’s Linktree has links to the programs he is involved in and work he has done, including Kids+ and Get Skilled Access: https://linktr.ee/noahcallan
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