Regardless of progression, I think communication is the most important ability to maintain. I used Dragon Naturally Speaking to help with typing for a few months, but my voice went pretty quickly after I began using that technology. Thankfully, I found some other great programs to help make communication easier, but my main salvation is SmartNav. That device gives me full control of my computer by using a reflective dot I wear on my forehead to move the cursor, and I use my toe to hit the clicker that comes with the system. Since the clicker behaves like the left mouse button, I use Point-n-Click to allow me to right click and double click.

To type, I use the OnScreen Keyboard. The learning word prediction makes typing a lot faster. The final accessibility program I use is NextUp Talker. This software vocalizes typed text and allows me to communicate more easily, especially since I can build predefined phrases with text or voice recordings I made years ago. I have created about 200 typed phrases broken up into various categories so that I can communicate more quickly.

When I’m not on my computer and I want to say something, my caregivers use an ABC Board. If you’re wondering how to use the board, look through the instructions. Once you’ve been using it for a while, it’s a fairly fast way to communicate.

I love Smartnav so much that I asked my husband to set up a grant to give them to other ALS patients. The company has been a great partner, allowing the foundation to purchase units at an amazing discount. If you are interested and run a Windows operating system, please let us know!