Joey Takes Centre Stage

Joey first met Ability Centre’s Assistive Technology team 14 years ago as a cute four year old. Since that first meeting in 2004 a special bond has developed between the team, Joey, and his family that has empowered him to achieve some amazing things.

Senior Speech Pathologist Sue said, ‘When we first met Joey, he was learning to activate a switch with his head to control technology. We were pretty sure this was going to be his most reliable and repeatable movement.’

After mastering the use of switch technology, in 2007 he began using a simple Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) device. With the support of the Assistive Technology team he now uses one the most complex AAC devices available, the Accent 1400 with the Unity 144 sequenced vocabulary.

‘This device and Joey’s control of it is amazing. He can communicate whatever he wants to say - his most complex thoughts, opinions, and ideas - whenever he wants to, and to whomever he chooses to communicate,’ Sue said.

Now 18 years old, Joey is stepping out of his comfort zone. With the support of Sue and his brother Jojo, he recently presented at the biennial conference of the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) on the Gold Coast.

Joey spoke at two different sessions. At the first he captivated a packed room, speaking about his journey with technology, particularly how technology has enhanced his independence. After his presentation, he masterfully responded to questions from the audience.

The second was the “Lightning Pitch” session, with researchers, clinicians, family members and other people who use AAC, where he shared his ideas for improving technology in a 3 minute presentation. He explained to the audience why he would love to see an integrated SIM card port in AAC devices, as well as a better phone interface, more effective and easier infra-red for environmental control, and an on-board torch!

As a result of Joey’s impressive presentation at ISAAC, he was invited to share his story with a parent group at the Variety Motor Mouth camp for children who use AAC devices. He has also been invited by the organising committee to be a keynote speaker at the next AGOSCI conference to be held in Perth in 2019, where he will share more of his story and his ideas for technology.

Joey said, “I really feel ISAAC was just the start of my speaking career. I feel like I’ve already completed so much in 18 years with my technology and I’ve still got so much more to achieve.”

Everyone at Ability Centre wishes him well with this exciting step in his journey with assistive technology!