new screenshots Proloquo2Go on iPad

Whilst browsing I found a few new screenshots of Proloquo2go (P2G) on iPad.

You can make much larger grids this screenshot (below)  shows auto-conjugation of words for example as shown below if you press and hold down ‘are’ you can also choose am,  is,  was,  were,  will be,  being,  been depending on whether you sentence is on past,  present or future tense.

This saves you having to go through several pages to find the exact word.  For other verbs such as play for example if you press and hold you would also get played,  playing, will play etc. This eliminates the need to go to a seperate page for word endings.

You can also choose to just type it in via a qwerty keyboard (icons can also be removed from message window so only typing appears.

P2G doesn’t have word prediction as such but does have the basic word completion same as the iPhone.   However P2G is designed to be used by building up sentences via the core words grids.  You can remove icons and have words only but I have not found any screenshots of text only pages.

I plan to make my own when I get mine and will put them on here to show how the program can be customised.

The best part of the iPad is because it is a bigger screen you can have much bigger icons and still fit more on than you can on iphone

If you just need a basic type what you speak for the occasional sentence when someone doesn’t understand you,  you can buy ‘speak it’ from the app store for just over £1.

Guessing Games

Last night a man came to door,  he had an ID that showed he was from Southern Electric which he waved in my direction as he said something I didnt catch then stopped (waiting for reply)  I indicated I was deaf,  he carried on regardless,  he seemed to talk really fast and after what seemed like a lengthy comment he paused again looking expectedly at me.

I didn’t have a clue what he had just said and was in middle of my dinner it was sat going cold on the tray in the lounge so guessing he was asking if I wanted to switch to Southern Electric I just shook my head and again indicated that I was deaf,  realising he was gonna get nowhere fast he just nodded in acknowledgement and left.

I went back to my tea which by then needed re-zapping in the microwave. I am quite an accomplished lip-reader and can lipread MOST people quite accurately but I just couldn’t be bothered at that time to spend the next 10 mins on my doorstep with some guy trying to sell me a service.

When I first went deaf at 16 (over 25 years ago) I was in a mainstream college and I was struggling to keep up,  my teacher knew I was bright from one-to-one chats but seemed to be missing huge chunks of information in group work and she frequently saw me copying off my friend just after she had turned to write something on the board.  I didn’t relaise she had at some point tested me and realised I was lip-reading so had said something to my parents who did a similar test at home which I also failed so was dragged off to audiology services to discover I did in fact have an hearing loss.

It was significant enough that it was going to cause problems with me getting a job and keeping it if I couldn’t understand instructions,  back in those days Equal Opportunities was not the same as today,  if they gave you a job they had done their bit,  but you still had to prove you could do the job as well as  any non-disabled person they might have offered the job to instead.

I got transferred to Doncaster College for the Deaf which back then was like an annexe on the back of the Yorkshire Residential School for the Deaf.

Yorkshire Residential School for the Deaf

I learnt alot of tricks from other deaf kids who had been deaf all their lives.  I learnt to sign quick as we were signing all day everyday and by end of the first term I was fairly fluent in sign language.  I was only at the college two years via an Employment Training Scheme which sponsored my place on a Business Studies course to learn work skills and also got lip-reading and speech therapy.  Learning to talk again when you can’t hear what you are saying is an odd experience at first so I tended to not speak in public as all I could hear was background noise from hearing aids.  This of course had to be overcome as I was expected to speak in the workplace regardless of what noise was going off in the background.  If I turned my hearing aids to cut out all the different noises then I also couldnt hear what I was saying either and whether it was coming out clearly.

Hanging out with other deaf students was fun we could all relax and understand each other,  we just used sign,  the people who could speak best were used to asked for things in shops or get the drinks/food in when we went out.  Work Experiences were challenging we were only there two weeks each time but expected to be able to understand everything requested of us,  it wasn’t much time to learn to lip-read someone when they were giving you instructions from day one, whilst the other workers watched on as the manager did their best impressions of fish or talking in slow motion at you!  Break times were difficult,  people would be friendly and smiley but then not realise its hard to lipread someone when they have a mouthful of sandwich or crisps etc,  and everyone was sat around chatting/speaking at same time,  it was difficult to keep up.  I was always glad to get back to college where I had mastered the art of eating with one hand and signing with the other as the other deaf students did with each other!

After 25 years of being deaf I had mastered these arts to perfection but developing Ataxia has had an affect on my signing skills.  As Ataxia affects Fine Motor Co-ordination I notice signing (which was once so good other uni students thought I was born deaf like them) is getting more of a challenge,  particularly finger-spelling and trying to get one index finger to hit the point of each finger accurately (for vowels)  and has slowed down my signing speed considerably.

It is now getting as difficult for interpreters to work out my signs as it is for hearing people to work out my speech sometimes,  especially if it is a new interpreter who hasn’t met me before or aware of my physical difficulties.  As its not always possible to meet the interpreter before,  they kind of meet you at your appointment,  they just speak what you have signed and translate other person speech for you.

I noticed this at a council meeting I went to last year where there was a few interpreters I had never worked with before.  Some other deaf students ended up telling them what I was saying,  I guess with their brains used to processing signing faster they could work out what I was trying to sign quicker than the interpreter could.

It is kind of frustrating when ALL methods of communicating are affected,  ie typing and signing due to Fine Motor difficulties caused by Ataxia and also speech also affected by co-ordination of muscles involved with speaking. And to think I was told by a doctor that Ataxia meant I would ‘just be a bit wobbly on my feet’!


Last night I went to cook dinner,  put it in oven,  went back about 15 mins later to check and oven was still cold and dinner half defrosted it ended up in bin!

Phoned housing association and they said they would send someone out today probably this afternoon but couldn’t give a time.  Well its 4pm here usually time I am setting about feeding Inca or going to take her out for a walk but the ‘oven man’ still hasn’t turned up yet!

Luckily its still light until around 8pm so I’m hoping he will at least turn up before 5pm as its a Friday you’d think they would want to finish early! He’ll probably come in say it needs some part or new oven and has to be ordered then he straight back out again if I’m last job of day!  Still if I get a brand new oven free I can’t complain.

My ‘physio’ today has been cleaning the kitchen worktops and its about the tidiest its been since I moved in!

Anyway Inca still wants feeding so I’m off to give her, her dinner first and looks like walkies will be later tonight.

.. like a puppet on a string!

I don’t know about anyone else with Ataxia or any other condition that causes involuntary or co-ordination problems but I sometimes feel like a Puppet and someone else is controlling the strings!

I use a oversized Joystick on my computer (see page Me and My Macs for pics) sometimes when I reach out to it,  I’m just about to get there (i think)  and my arms goes off in the other direction or I knock it and cursor goes flying across screen rather than grabbing the handle, luckily its only controlling a mouse cursor and not  a wheelchair.

For my chair I used the yellow foam ball that came with the Joystick Plus,  took out the middle part that screws it to joystick and put the ball on my powerchair joystick.

I found if I just lean my lower arm on it it gives me more control and as control is crucial when you driving alongside a road with incoming traffic I figure its the safest way.  Also easier in winter when you got several pairs of gloves on or big coats than trying to grip the little stick and keep hold of it.  I just lean to that side so weight is on right elbow and lower arm and it steadies it.  This could get painful if you was doing this all day but as I only use the chair as a spare and to get into the small park (with swing gate – scooter too long to go through) I’m never usually in it longer than an hour.   I think If I was in the same electric chair all day I would need to look another way of steering it,  but for now its manageable,  as I cant afford new chair or ‘speciality controls’.

I prefer my scooter and that is easier in a way as I chose one where the wiggle stick thing is pulled towards you to go forwards  so just by resting wrists on handlebars with hands hooked around back I can also hold wiggle stick in position and keep it there,  so consequently I fly around at 6mph overwhere.. lol! I can use thumb which I tend to use when I only want to move a fraction or have to go slower,  or just move the dial down so even pulling wiggle stick right back will only go slowly.  On the chair I can also alter speed so can keep joystick held in full speed position with arm but it wont go that fast if speed is reduced to walking pace (if someone is walking alongside me).

As I can pull myself to standing to walk a few steps with assistance I don’t qualify for an Electric wheelchair off NHS even though I’m surrounded by hills (even my driveway of an adapted bungalow is sloped!)  so if didn’t have my scooter I couldn’t be able to get off estate to shops or to walk Inca as don’t live with family or have a PA,  but they don’t seem to consider a person individual circumstances.

For now I manage so my goal has to be to keep arms and legs working for as long as possible as I see very little help coming if I was dependant on others without it costing me a fortune in wages.

All housework is exercise and therapy as its all using muscles and co-ordination and if I don’t have any jobs to do around house I exercise via wii fit,  it can be exhausting as everything takes longer as you battle your body for control over your arms and legs so you can walk a few steps with your walker or make yourself a cup of tea,  type a blog,  do your laundry,  dress yourself etc

Sometimes it feels easier once you get going and someone said to me that our bodies learn to not use the muscles which are affected, so once you acknowledged those muscles exist by trying to do something with your arm (or leg)  etc your body will try to use them more.

Sometimes I will only use my best hand when having a drink of tea at someone elses house so I don’t spill everything everywhere and embarrass or burn myself or someone else,  but at home I use a thermos cup with a lid on so I can use either hand safely.

‘Necessity is the mother of invention’ someone said that.  can’t remember who or where I seen it recently but its true,  you learn to compensate because you have to and maybe do it more if you live alone and don’t have family around to do things for you.

Inca’s blog – dog stuff to help disabled owners

I have had a happy life despite my mum becoming more disabled as I was growing up and its a shame there are many dogs without homes still that could have good lives and be a loyal companion to someone.

One of my mums difficulties is keeping grip on things and throwing so Frisbees and small balls are difficult.  We came across a toy on you tube that looks like a great idea.  It has thick enough handle and the ring can be loaded onto it easily using two hands or an hand and a foot.

You still do need enough range of motion in arms to lift them and do a throwing motion but the toy does make it easier to throw it further and pick it up.

If any kind of throwing is out you can buy ball launchers.

The remote one above is ideal if your carer can’t use their arms well enough to throw but could press a button.

If they have some throwing ability and you really like to play together with balls,  simple balls on elastic can go further if they hook the elastic around thumb and can hold ball back and let go.

Another useful thing when bending is difficult are raised feeders.

If you use dry food it is easier to put dry food in a plastic measuring jug and pour it into the dishes already placed in the feeders if carrying dish with food in is difficult.  My mum splits mine into portions so I get a bit in my bowl with meat/fish/veg and gravy and the rest goes into treat toys or scattered around the garden to find,  then its not all gone in a few gulps!

Another handy gadget if your mum or carer uses a wheelchair or trike etc. This is a bar that attaches to a bike frame so you can run alongside on your lead.

My mum just uses a regular lead on the power chair attached to the chair arm when I walk alongside her on pavement and she lets me off when I get in park.  We also use an extending lead for the scooter when sometimes mum has to go on the road and I have to stay on the pavement or grass verge (near busy roads).

Anyway speaking of walkies,  its time for mine now!

Be good for your mums!

Wags n Woofs

updated page

I have updated my page Proloquo2go and iPad with the latest screenshot released.

Please check it out,  it also has more information on it.

The ipad itself has built in screenreader and zoom so could be suitable for someone partially sighted as it also comes with a iBook library type app which allows you to download books,  and using the built in screenreader it will be able to read them to you also.

Screenreading programs by themselves can be very expensive, so to be able to buy an iPad with it built in for a little extra (for 16GB wi-fi only model) is an added bonus.  It has not been confirmed yet for UK prices but it is thought at least the 16GB wi-fi model will come in at under £500.  If you think that most Touchscreen communication aids with 8in screen and above cost in region of £4,000-£8,000 this is an amazing saving.

Even considering a person may go up to £1,000 with apps and accessories or buy an higher priced model you are still saving several thousand pounds.

If money is tight and you can manage to use a smaller screen (or prefer a smaller device) you can buy proloquo2go and an ipod touch for under £200.

For people with ataxia who struggle with small buttons and tiny touchscreen devices the iPad looks promising to be used also as a jumbo touchscreen tv remote as well as basic functions like a calendar,  you could sign up to sms by email and you then have a larger touchscreen keyboard than on a tiny phone.

Zentap is an app which includes word prediction and abbreviation expansion and ability to send text into email to speed up typing for those of us that use one finger or a thumb.

That’s all for now,  Inca says its time for her walk and its her turn next to blog!…

Watch this space 🙂


Today I got a Trabasack sent to me to try.  Its like a cross between a wheelchair tray and a bag!  It was designed by a wheelchair user.

I got it cos its difficult to balance Lightwriter on knees to chat especially when I am outdoors and have taken the Da Vinci chair which raises knees slightly for positioning so I can’t slide off.  I also use Nu Drive Levers with this chair which give me more independence when going shopping with friend.

I don’t like been pushed anyway unless its necessary (uphill!) because as a deaf person it also cuts off communication as person is behind me and I can’t see what they are saying whether they are signing or me lip-reading them I need them to be walking alongside me and slightly infront for optimal communication.

The Trabasack comes in different designs and colours and are under £50 it has many advantages over the traditional style tray or communication aid mount.  You can leave the waist strap attached and put it over your head then just tighten the strap around your waist,  I personally find this easier, but it also has clips which some people may find easier to just undo one of the clips to get it back off.

It comes in a curved design or a smaller more square ‘laptop bag’ design.

You can have the leather look top which also has clips around top for you to clip things to or use to attach it to your chair frame/armrests.

I got the Velcro top so just need to stick some sticky backed velcro to underside of things like Lightwriter,  iPods,  mobile,  keyboard or switches whatever you want to carry on it, it will hold them in place.

I thought the Velcro feature would be good for any one with tremors to hold things in place whilst you press buttons like on TV remote.

This makes my lightwriter safe to not fall off it as I can also attach it the D rings. If I was gonna be in chair most of day like electric chair for hospital appointment I can attach the side straps too to arm rest so Lightwriter can stay on tray in place without me having to get it out of bag to talk to ambulance personnel then back in a bag to get myself into reception then out again to tell them my name etc.

If I was going to council meeting where usually an interpreter and other deaf people there anyway but sometimes need Lightwriter with some people,  I can use Trabasack as a bag to put it in and put over back of chair.  Its there if I need it.  eg part of time we are sat around tables so wouldnt need tray but when we go off into groups we are sat around in a circle so can quickly put Trabasack onto my lap to make it easier to type with Lightwriter if I needed to.

I like the fact that it is very versatile and can be used in different ways in different situations at home can just be used as a tray its really comfy on legs my external iMac keyboard that I use for laptop slides off the old plastic topped tray frequently but just sticking velcro to bottom of that and the switch I use will hold them both in place to chat comfortably in bed or on sofa.

Its quick and easy to get on and off if you only need it on for short periods and need to be able to remove it yourself easily and it can be fastened to your chair (by other people if necessary) if you want it to stay in place whilst you drive/propel your chair whilst keeping your items in place.

I think it would suit most people who are ‘semi-mobile’ and need something to balance things on legs in chair occasionally but don’t want a big solid wheelchair tray attaching or who uses a sporty style chair with no arm rests.

To see all available designs and colours go:

Inca’s Blog – Why dogs make best therapists!

Ok my turn to blog!

I think I’m the best therapist my mum ever had so my blog is to other doggies to tell you how to keep your humans going!

First thing you gotta do every morning is get them up.  Prodding the bum works, laying on them or shoving  your favourite teddy in their face.  You could also try fetching one of their smelly shoes or slippers then standing by the door!

Once your human is up you have to get them active,  fetch anything that might act as a hint that its time for walkies,  shoes,  lead,  ball etc.  You might have to wait until they wave there arms about in front of the TV (otherwise known as wii fit)  this is good for humans and keeps their arms and legs working so just lie back in amusement for a while on the sofa and have a chuckle!

When you do get out of the door make sure they haven’t forgot your frisbee,  ball or whatever you like to play with.  This is also good for their arms and fun for you too!

Exercise in the park

Other less energetic games can be good for you both too and can help your humans sitting skills and using their hands which are important for feeding us and giving us a stroke/tummy tickle.

This is a good one,  cos mum has to pick up the plastic bones and put them in the holes with treats underneath for me to get back out again.

Games like this encourage dexterity skills in you both and are fun to play!

I have a collection of interactive games now and they are great fun especially over the long winter months,  mum puts a different one in each room for me to go around and do like a little course.

On sunny days we make a little course in the garden too mixed with agility items and puzzles,  this is great fun!  It also requires your human to use alot of their skills and exercise to make up the courses for you then they can sit and rest in the sun while you have fun on your course!!  :O)

Don’t forget to remind them to feed you,  food is important for strength for you both!

Getting your dinner ready makes use of their hands and fingers,  if you get fresh things in your dinner like chicken and veg,  or dry mix can be sprinkled around the garden.  This is a good one for my mum as she sits on thing called a rollator and uses her legs to push herself backwards this gives her legs good exercise in garden as she isn’t very steady on her feet to walk far. She is also using her arms to throw my food mix to top end of garden (we got slope at back of our garden) and also fills my boxer ball which hangs from the rotary dryer.

At the end of the day its nice to snuggle up with mum and let her type your blog cos its good exercise for her hands while you have a nice long snooze!

Woof n Wags

My Mobility

Seems I spoke too soon about it getting milder!  It’s gone cold again,  glad I didn’t take the electric blanket off last time I changed the bedding.

I have been some research and found a unusual bag/tray thing for wheelchair users.  It might be good for my Lightwriter when I have it balanced on knees its difficult to type in sports chair. I have ordered one to have a look at at so I’ll do a review on it and recommend if I find it’s suitable for my needs.  It may not arrive until next week now with it been bank holidays today and monday.

I don’t like the big wheelchair trays or even half trays they tend to need arm rests to attach them to somehow and communication aid mounts screw and bolt onto the frame and tend to stick out slightly to one side.  On my Da Vinci chair this wont work cos of way the chair folds.

To fold my Da Vinci chair into a small car boot,  you just remove the wheels,

the back folds down on top of the seat canvas

and the leg/footplate part at front folds underneath it

I had this chair custom built for my brothers wedding, as I needed a manual chair that folded down smaller into car boots as my blue one takes up the whole back seat even with wheels removed as our boots weren’t tall/wide enough to accommodate it folded in half.  Plus people were car sharing to get to wedding reception which was quite some distance away from the church and staying over night everyone had luggage as well with them plus my wheelchair to fit in!

At my brothers wedding in April 2008

I had the chair done in Chrome with Tri-star wheels so I don’t keep trapping fingers  between spokes, when taking wheels on and off. The upholstery is Black suede and they also did the front bumpers (side of legs)  in matching suede for me – as they are usually like a black plastic just to protect frame as you drop chair down. (pull a chain underneath seat).

For wheeling in flatter more open areas like shopping centres I also use some Nu Drive Levers,  these help me with braking and slowing down on sloped kerbs as I was struggling with getting fingers to work quick enough when feeding rims through hands to slow down.

The Nu Drive levers easily fit onto a regular 24″  wheel

You fit the base first where you can see the three silver parts attaching to  inside rim of wheel.

Then fit the lever part on.  You can just remove the lever and leave the base in place if you just want to remove them temporarily eg to get under a table in a cafe etc.

For more details go to site:

I call this my ‘Travel chair’,  it was expensive but should last for years and has lifetime frame guarantee. It stays in my hall cupboard and I just use my old one for around the house as that doesn’t fold as small to fit neatly away anyway!

At home cos I don’t have  car or anyone to push me around (all hills around here)  I also have a mobility scooter to get me around the village for Inca’s walks and to the local shops for food.  I like to sit on regular chairs/sofa’s and not be in wheelchair all time so sometimes I just sit on walker seat and push myself backwards with feet to get from room to room.

I can use crutches for a short time,  but with vinyl flooring that I have for wheelchairs they tend to slip from under me easily.  I tend to use these away from home just to get from door into car (while someone is loading chair into boot for me) into family members houses, or in and out of pub toilets etc

I have to have someone walking at side of me as I’m not very stable walking outdoors on uneven surfaces and over door thresholds etc.  I have some folding ones that go in bag on back of my chair.

Use it or lose it!

My neuro said this to me in the early days,  but at the time they weren’t sure what was wrong with me and I didn’t understand my body and what was happening to it.  So despite them not giving me any idea of why I couldn’t do the same things anymore, I was been told I should still try and do the same things!   And these are qualified people?

I’m thankful for my research skills I learnt at University as these have been instrumental in my understanding of what appears to be going wrong, as they couldn’t help at the time until I had a confirmed diagnosis (yes,   I got no physio despite going from walking normally to barely been able to move and no speech therapy either as I was deaf and would therefore never talk normally anyway!)

So everything I have learnt about coping and adapting,  I have taught myself and picked up tips from others who have lived with their disabilities much longer.  These are the people I consider the ‘experts’ and have quite frankly lost my faith in the medical profession.  I don’t even bother visiting my GP.

I saw a program on telly where they had put some old blokes in isolated farmhouses to look after themselves to see if modern life was making people lose skills or age faster  I think. I can’t remember all details but some of results were that the men actually got some skills back,  one was able to walk without his stick and stopped using it,  another was standing up straighter rather than bent over and doing more with his hands.   What does this have to do with me?

Well I was wondering as I lived alone and had been more or less ‘left to my own devices’ to work out everything myself if that was why I had managed to stay independent?

On one of my few medical appointments when the OT (I did get one eventually!) from Neuro Rehab Team comes out to assess me  – now they have finally realised I do have something that has been progressing for the last 7 years –  she was impressed by my ‘initiative and compensation skills’  and that I had found a way around all the daily difficulties so I could carry on independantly.   At least,  I hope she was genuinely impressed and not just been patronising.

The argument I have with my GP surgery is when they come to take my blood for thyroid levels,  they ask you to phone and they will say if its ok or not. However they wont test T3 which was the one that was dangerously low when the Ataxia started and they wont tell me the numbers,  so how I’m expected to manage the condition effectively to prevent it happening again I don’t know.  The nurse tends to talk down to me like I was a child.

Why do people assume you have learning difficulties just cos you are struggling to speak/in a wheelchair or deaf? If like me you have all three to contend with you get it on a daily basis from most people!  It does tend to put you off the whole ‘socialising’ thing and it’s much easier to socialise online where you don’t seem to get judged as much.

Anyway time to get up,  Inca needs her walk,  getting dressed is a physio routine in itself! Time to get on my daily routine of exercising every part of the brain before the day is out.