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Denise McCall, M.A., CCC-SLP

Director of the SCALE Center

As a Speech-Language Pathologist solely serving individuals with aphasia and apraxia, I am always following advances in technologies available to support speech and language production. Two years ago, I had the opportunity to attend a conference that featured the use of VAST with Mr. Winston Lindsley. His presentation was remarkable! The visual, auditory and written cues provided on the video dramatically improved his ability to speak. Since these same supports have been effective with many individuals with aphasia and apraxia, I immediately thought of a number of clients who might benefit from this approach.

As I learned more about VAST, I was excited to find that the developers had devised techniques to customize the videos to specifically support the individual needs of this population. For example, modifications to the rate of speech can be made based on the users abilities. These customizations can dramatically increase the intelligibility of an individual’s productions.

Although this technique is available to the general public, considerable expertise is required to create videos that utilize supportive techniques that facilitate language production in aphasia/apraxia (e.g., intonation, chunking, etc.). Furthermore, it is prohibitively time consuming to record, create and customize videos with these supports. Therefore, I was delighted to hear that SpeakinMotion will be creating applications specifically for this population and providing a service to create personal videos.

The Snyder Center for Aphasia Life Enhancement (SCALE) serves a number of individuals with aphasia and apraxia. Members of the center are excited to learn to use VAST to facilitate their participation in group activities and every day communications. Carrying an iPod is unobtrusive and is now common-place in the community. Many of our members’ friends and family members use iPods and they are anxious to learn to use them as well. As they have experimented with VAST, they report that it is surprisingly easy to learn and use. Some SCALE members use VAST to present to small groups, others have written speeches to present at special events and use VAST when presenting. SCALE members are especially excited about using SpeakinMotion to create and deliver videos from the written texts that they submit for recording.

This service will increase their ability to participate in a variety of communication activities. Professional Speech-Language Pathologists will find that the SpeakinMotion services will enable them to utilize VAST with their clients in a variety of settings. I am excited to see the many ways that VAST will empower individuals with aphasia and apraxia in our communities.

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