When speech and vision are an issue, LAMP Words for Life can be adapted and used by those unable to see and communicate
For Ani, communication was a struggle from the beginning.
Ani lost her vision shortly after birth and spent the first years of her life in a Bulgarian orphanage, but at age two was adopted into a loving family.
Essentially nonverbal, Ani used a few word approximations but verbal speech was not her preference, instead using a handful of tactile signs as well as eight abstract tactile symbols.
While useful for communicating basic wants and needs, they were difficult for her to learn quickly and expand upon, and didn’t offer room to grow.
Fortunately for Ani, Gretchen Bright, Prentke Romich Company consultant for Kansas City, was part of a team working on developing an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) solution following the Language Acquisition through Motor Planning (LAMP™) approach, along with The Center for AAC & Autism.
“Ani was already learning pre-Braille,” said Bright. “So, using Braille-like cues on the KeyGuard to locate words on a speech-generating device (SGD) seemed like a good option.”
What is LAMP?
LAMP is an AAC approach designed to give individuals who are nonverbal or have limited verbal abilities a way to independently and spontaneously express themselves through the use of an SGD.
The key component of the LAMP approach includes learning language through a unique and consistent motor plan to say each word paired with auditory output. Motor patterns can be shortened initially to provide immediate auditory output upon touching the buttons but are expanded upon when skills progress to access more vocabulary. Consistent motor patterns for words allow for the development of quick and easy communication.
“There are multiple benefits of a word-based system that pairs a consistent motor pattern with consistent auditory output along with teaching words by providing a fun, natural response,” said Cindy Halloran, Director of the Center for AAC & Autism and co-developer of the LAMP approach. “There are no cognitive prerequisites for the implementation of LAMP, as intervention can begin at the cause and effect level and systematically build upon the stages of natural language development while maintaining a consistent motor pattern to access each word.”
What is LAMP Words for Life - VI?
The LAMP Words for Life language system was modified to assist communicators with visual impairments:
- A set of high-contrast Minspeak icons with less detail and fewer colors were set on a black background.
- Some motor patterns were simplified.
- Words learned at the one-hit level become double hits on the same button to eliminate the need for tactile search.
- Since the corners provide a good reference point, they were left blank to be utilized for customization of favorite people, places and things.
- A Tactile KeyGuide with raised cues to reference locations was developed for the Accent 1000.
The combination of the LAMP approach, along with the Tactile KeyGuide on an SGD and the better contrasting screen gives children such as Ani a much more efficient communication system to help them express themselves and expand their language.
Since beginning with LAMP Words for Life - VI, Ani has made tremendous progress.
“In the short time that Ani has been using the tactile keyguard, she has increased her intentionality and independence for purposeful communication,” shared her speech pathologist, Erica McCarthy. “She is able to have more autonomy in her day, participate in activities that previously caused behaviors, and - best of all - communicate more effectively with her family and peers.”
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