Tien Hoang

Toronto, Ontario



I am Tien Hoang, and I am an AAC user. I have athetoid cerebral palsy, which affects most of my upper extremities causing me to use my feet for almost everything. I was born in Vietnam and came to Canada when I was nine years old. I would like to say I am proud and grateful to be here in Canada because I’ve come a long way to be who I am and where I am today.

Yes, I had some issues with my augmentative and alternative communication device before I was able to try it out. I felt the device would make me look more “disabled” and I thought it would limit my ability to participate in social events. Boy, I was wrong!  My device has given me a new pass in life to build my dreams for a better future!  It has given me the ability and strength to reach out to the world and show people that I can speak better and do better.It all happened four years ago when Carl, my occupational therapist at Erinoaks, sent me an email saying he recommended that I try out the Mercury.

I’m thankful for his consideration because rather than saying a few words, now I can say anything I want to say without struggles, and without having strangers walk away from me when I try to talk with them. It has given me an opportunity to emphasize my thoughts and feelings on some issue (privately and publicly). It also has helped me make so many connections with people in the community.

For me, being an AAC user is fun because I have the ability and flexibility to communicate with people in my community through my device, written notes and other alternative formats. Thanks to my therapist and life skills educator at the Gage (I have been in its Transition to Independent Living program for over a year now; I will be moving into a permanent housing project soon.), I now know how to be creative and flexible in communicating with people in a store, a bank, a pharmacy and in my very own apartment when my device breaks down or when I’m not in a mood to use it.


I enjoy typing out notes regarding what I want, what I want to tell people and how people can assist me when I go into a store, to an appointment or attend a meeting. In my spare time, I participate in the Canadian Electric Wheelchair Hockey League during the winter and sometimes in their summer events. I enjoy going out by myself and doing things as much as possible! I do some public speaking for organizations and events, and help organize conferences and special events.

Whenever I get stuck in my apartment because of the weather or a “wheelchair disaster”, I write poetry, short stories, memoirs, and/or I paint on the computer using the painting software. I love and enjoy everything that I do. For my future, I would like to continue to be involved in many different kinds of advocacy projects (like what I’ve been doing over the past three years).

I want to promote awareness about AAC and the need for accessibility in the community for people with disabilities. I want to educate the public and bring accessibility and equality into the lives of people with disabilities because I want to bring hope to myself, to other people who are in need, and to the children of the future. In order to pursue my causes, I will go to college or university next year and continue with my education.

That’s my dream for my future!

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