In years past, I have chosen to go voiceless but today after a dental appointment, I was in need. The right side of my face was numb, the corner of my mouth was drooping, and I could barely drink from a straw without dribbling. The last thing I wanted to do was talk, however, I had errands to run before my next appointment and I needed my voice. Fortunately, I have SFY on my phone for modeling language. In fact, I never leave home without it and I was good to go.
My first stop was for gas. I used the Hold That Thought feature to preprogram the phrase, “fill up with regular please”. Of course, I could tap out those words, however, being mindful of the line behind me, I chose the quickest way to make my request. When the attendant handed me the receipt, he smiled when I tapped, “thank you”. What impressed me the most was he was unfazed as if he sees someone using AAC every day. The reality is, it’s rather rare. If I’m lucky, I see one, maybe two people a year out in the community using devices.
The next stop was Trader Joe’s. The checker asked if I found everything and I tapped yes, and then said, “thank you for bagging”. I showed him my phone while it spoke and that helped him quickly connect the dots that this was my voice. He winked.
Nearer home, I stopped at my favorite coffee spot. I’m a regular and often chat with the cashier. After I tapped thank you, she tilted her head in question. I then tapped, “I am not able to talk”, then added, “dentist” which was all the explanation I needed. Next time I see her, I’ll tell her what AAC is about and why it is important to our family but now I was running late and had to scoot. It was a little frustrating to “talk and run” and didn’t complete the spreading awareness mission. As important it is to see AAC in action, it needs to be explained. Though none of these were long conversations, it was enough to convey my needs.
For every three people we have shared our AAC with, we’ve witnessed at least one of them telling another person, “we just met a girl who uses an iPad to talk”. Now if every AAC user did the same, our world would be that much bigger and this is what awareness is all about.