Michel Chamberland

Montreal, Quebec

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Hello, My name is Michel Chamberland. I have cerebral palsy and I have trouble speaking. I have used a communication device to speak for about four years. I started with a Bliss board at Victor Dore School. It was made with pictures that represented words. For instance, the word television is represented with a picture of a television with the word written under the picture. The messages were organized in alphabetical order. For that time, it was fantastic–I was young. You’ll see the evolution.

When I was at Joseph Charbonneau High School, I had another kind of board; it was a syllable board. For instance, to say radio, I would point to RA, then DI and then O. It was much better than the Bliss system, because I could practice my French.

Now. I live in the  Centre-Ville of Montreal housing  and an OT showed me the Dynawrite communication device. That device has to be plugged in all night in order to function all day and there is just a little problem: occasionally you have to reset it using a paper clip that you insert into a small hole to restart it, because it gets jammed. However, there are lots of positive aspects. When I am not at the computer and I go to communication, or to the newspaper,  I carry it on the tray of my motorized wheelchair. At communication and at the newspaper, it is very practical, because it allows me to express my ideas and my views on subjects by writing on the screen of my device, as if on a computer.

What I like the most about the device is the word prediction that allows me to go a hundred times faster, and this is really efficient for me because I don’t have to write down the whole word.

For the personnel and the nurses, it is really good because they don’t have time to understand me. So I use the device and they understand me easily.

When I go to the store, I prepare text in advance and the sales persons find my device great, because I save a lot of time. If I did not have my device, my life would be bland, because I could not go out because of my communication impairment.

Finally, I would like to talk about the forced departure of the speech pathologist, because of budget cuts. This is very sad because when I had difficulties with my device, she was the one who helped us. Where has freedom of speech gone? I would like you to think about it before you cut down on these resources.

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