CSD 823X S10
Reactions to "Finding A Voice"

Nicholas Hugh Craft I know how difficult it is and how much work is done to try and find AAC devices for those who need to use them.  It must have been extremely difficult to try and find ways with not much technology.  At the same time, it is still difficult to find ways with better technology. The most difficult part of the documentary to watch was the women toward at the end of the film.  Although she was frustrated, she was reaching her arms the other gentleman as if to hold his hand.  I hope that NOVA can come back and do another story like this, and possibly follow up on some individuals who were in this film.  
Allison Ann Dery
Successes in communication sciences and disorders are amazing to watch. The progress from meeting an individual and assessing their abilities to the final communication device expressing their thoughts and ideas is truly spectacular. I was so shocked at the different types of technology (even the low tech communication devices) that were presented in the film. All I could think about during the film was, "how do you even make that?" I understand the basics such as binary code and I even know a little bit of electrical work because my dad taught me. However, to create such a layered and intricate technology is understandably no small task.
As I progressed through my internships, I've learned more about how difficult it is to acquire augmentative communication devices. This film has made me feel more motivated and encouraged regarding communication devices. Simple communication devices can be made and can be quite effective.
My favorite part of the entire movie was that the individual could make jokes. Although, the individual could communicate before with his typewriter, the element of humor may have been lost in the dimension of time. Humor has to be quick and precise. The new device provided this individual with the ability to joke and make side comments throughout the video. His personality truly arises through his communication device.
I realized later on, while thinking up words for the pizza delivery task, the request that Domino's had difficulty with. The communication device was saying "ham" too quickly and the representative couldn't decipher the word. I think this example sums up augmentative communication devices: even with devices, communication breakdowns will occur and it is the job of the speech and language pathologist to help facilitate and provide strategies to prevent breakdowns and to encourage new ways of approaching the situation. Even though we tend to want to be efficient, sometimes establishing the basics and finding alternative solutions will lead to a communicative pace that we are comfortable with. Teaching how to explain a food item will allow the individual to feel more confident with their devices.
Overall, I enjoyed the movie and I look forward to a semester of learning about augmentative communication devices. In addition, I honesty can't wait to learn about the "Altoid" box communication device. Thanks!
Mary Margaret Gebbia-Portice
As I watched the NOVA special, "Finding a Voice", two words came to mind: "struggle" and "frustration". Every minute of every day is a struggle for an individual with severe cerebral palsy. Communication is such an essential piece of our lives that being without it is severely disabling. Because many individuals with cp cannot control their bodies or their voices, their options for communication are extremely limited. I cannot imagine having something to say and not being able to say it. I am one of those people who thinks something and then says it. It can take a tremendous amount of self-control (and a lot of bite marks in my tongue) in order for me to not communicate something that's on my mind. How incredibly frustrating it would be to NEVER be able to say what you wanted to say. I suppose I would figure out a way to deal with not being able to communicate but the frustration would be almost unbearable until I learned to accept the situation.
The movie gave a very good view into the world of communication with cp, and highlights the possibilities for potentially solving this inability to communicate. To give an individual a voice is to give an incredible gift of life. As I continued to watch the NOVA special, two additional words came to mind: "patience" and "perseverance". The amount of patience that is required by both the caregivers and the individual with cp is absolutely enormous. I am a pretty patient individual and my one attempt at a conversation with Jim Renuk found me frustrated at my own stupidity, floundering in my attempts to act "normal", and embarrassed at my ignorance. Thank goodness Jim was patient with me and persevered in his attempts to teach ME how to communicate with him. How easy it would be to give up and constantly think about how ignorant people can be when they try to communicate with an individual with cp. Perseverance and patience are so necessary for anyone who deals with cp. In the end, the eternally hopeful message from the movie was that through much patience and perseverance, a communication solution can be found and can end the struggle and frustration of communication barriers that come with cp.
Pamela Marie Hamp

It is really hard for me to imagine being totally cognizant and not being able to communicate. Plus then to have my intelligence questioned by almost everyone who met me would be incredibly frustrating. Dick Boydell and the others like him in the movie ‘Finding a Voice’ must have been very patient people. I also have never known or worked with a person with this degree of impairment. In some ways I think I am still processing everything I saw and felt while watching the movie.  Visual images keep rolling over and over in my mind. I was especially moved by the shot of Jane’s hands dancing in the air as she reached out to hold Dick’s hand. It must have been really something for them to have met each other and even though laborious, to be able to communicate. I would like to know where these people are today and what happened in their lives after the movie was made.


I also wonder about the development of augmentative technology and how it has advanced from the 1980’s. I am reminded of the book and movie The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and the man who had ‘locked in syndrome’. He had to blink his eye every time a letter was recited that agreed with what he wanted to spell. What terribly hard and frustrating way to share thoughts and feelings! His method of communication seems pretty old fashioned – especially considering technological advancements in other areas (phones, cameras, etc.) and I wonder if some device exists that would have helped him communicate more effectively.

Thanks for sharing the movie with our class.

Pamela Hamp

Leathia Hodge

Jessica Marie Kaman
I really enjoyed this documentary. It opened my eyes to the possibilities that augmentative communication can bring to people with communication disorders. I never thought someone could choose letters by contracting his/her muscles. Seeing Jim Renuk use this technology amazed me. He mentioned during the film that this process was very slow. Since this documentary has been filmed, many new technological advances have occurred. It makes me wonder if any more advances have been made to make this augmentative communication system faster. Is this method used anymore? What type of augmentative communication does Jim Renuk use today?

            The narrator and main focus of the documentary, Dick Boydell, had an interesting story. I cannot imagine being without a voice for part of my life. His obvious intelligence was shown when he jumped every time the wrong word was read in a passage. He could see the words and knew how to read them, but he just couldn?t verbally produce the words. I can only imagine how frustrated he was when he couldn?t express his thoughts. New technology, even crude inventions like his page turner, helped him to read independently and begin to convey his ideas. When Dick Boydell used his typewriter that hit keys when he moved his foot to different positions, I was intrigued. It never occurred to me to have a setup that connected his foot movement to typing. Once I thought about it, it definitely made sense. However, it surprised me at first. I realized that in the field of augmentative communication, you have to be creative and think outside of the box. How many other types of augmentative communication do I not know about? I am very excited to learn more information about them in this class.

            One of the most touching moments in this class was when Dick Boydell met Jane. You could tell how much they wanted to communicate with each other. After much effort and time, Jane got her thoughts across to Dick. I really liked the idea of Jane?s communication aid because it incorporated the main topics of a conversation and of life. Also, I thought the clear part in the middle was a great idea because the person holding the board could see Jane clearly. It created a sense of connection and also increased the accuracy of the person guessing where Jane was looking. After watching that, it made me wonder how Jane is doing now. Have there been any new types of technology created for her? The film discussed this as a possibility in the future.

            I am very glad I was able to watch this documentary. It made me realize another path I can take in speech pathology. Also, I realized even more than before that working as a speech pathologist can deeply affect people?s lives. In many of these cases, these people found their voice and were able to use it for the rest of their lives.

Jessica Kaman
Andrea Marie Kujawa My Reactions to Finding a Voice
    This movie was very interesting.  I enjoyed observing some of the resources that were available within the artificial language laboratory at that point in time, and look forward to seeing what resources are available now compared to then.  I was also curious to what is avaliable now for those who only can communicate through visual gaze.  I had one client last semester (Mike) who communicated primarily through head turn, eye gaze, and minimal finger pointing.  My supervisor was working on finding an augentative device for him, but the semeseter ended before I had the chance to sit in on the process.  I especially thought the communication through muscles movements was very interesting as well.  I am also eager to find out more about what advancements have occured since the point of this movie in regards to the intonation of computer voices.  This was a good video to start off the class and help us to begin processing ideas and questions.
Chelsea Rebecca Adler Marks Finding a Voice was an extremely heartwarming film that only confirmed my love for wanting to help others find a voice. Without the love and care from everyone, most of all from his parents, Dick wouldn’t have transformed into the amazing person he had become. Dick’s journey is an inspiring story, which shows everyone that motivation can be the key to all doors in life. Yet, it is disappointing that with the vast improvement in technology, since the film was made, so many are still without a voice. People like Dr. Eulenberg and Steve Blosser are living proof of those willing to go the extra mile and help those who are truly trying to reach out and communicate. I enjoyed watching the experiences Dick had gone through on his trip to Michigan State University.

Chelsea Marks

Amanda Marie Vanhuysse It was really interesting to see the older technology in the movie "Finding a Voice." It's hard to imagine having to painstakingly type out each letter using your foot  every time you want to speak, or having to look at pictures and have people guess what you are trying to say. It's great to see we have come a long way in a relatively short period of time and now have computers that can develop complex sentences and ideas. Technology like the DynaVox allows users to convey all sorts of messages and it's portable.  I've worked with some people (especially children) who use AAC devices and I can see the enormous benefits it can give someone who cannot speak. AAC devices enable students to participate in class, request food or toys and interact with their peers. They can help adults gain some independence and ease the frustration of not being understood. So many people base intelligence on the expressive language people use. Many times, people who cannot speak are assumed to have cognitive impairments, but often times, this is not the case. AAC devices allow people to show their intelligence and have conversations, not just being talked to or answering yes/no questions. Some of the AAC devices in this movie seem complicated to use, even the low tech ones. I have respect for the people who use these devices. They must have a lot of patience and determination to learn how to use them and continue to use them even when communication partners may not want to take the time to interact with them.