Giving A Voice to Those That Cannot Speak

Ezer Mizion: Giving A Voice to Those That Cannot Speak

Speech therapists from all over Israel participated in a three day conference coordinated and hosted by Ezer Mizion’s VOCA (Voice Output Communication Aids) “Omer Center” on the topic of Alternative and Augmentative Communication.
Ezer Mizion’s VOCA Omer Center provides an invaluable service by evaluating needs and capabilities of people with challenges in the areas of verbal communication, comprehension and accessibility.
The Center expands the knowledge of professionals in the field, and – most importantly – strives to provide every person with tools to communicate with those around him and fulfill a basic human need.
The VOCA Omer Center performs comprehensive and sophisticated evaluations for children and adults with congenital or acquired deficits in the area of expressive and receptive speech and computer accessibility.
At a national convention for speech therapists, the head of the Center, Ms. Yonit Hagoel-Karnieli, gave a fascinating talk on the subject of alternative communication. In the wake of that speech, many of the clinicians from the audience expressed interest in a more intensive treatment of the topic.
As a result, speech therapists at the Omer Center headed by Hagoel-Karnieli put together a three day conference at Ezer Mizion. Among the topics discussed at the workshop: Expanding and deepening knowledge about alternative communication, detailed explanations of the speech generating (VOCA) devices and talking computers employed for this purpose, the needs being met, the target populations, different types of alternative communication devices, new innovations in the field, strategies, work approaches, and more.
Lectures at the workshop were delivered by speech therapists Dr. Goody Wein, Ms. Yedida Levin, and Ms. Sharon Shachar, as well as Tzofit Elbak, a special education teacher, and Yonit Hagoel-Karnieli, head of the Center.
Tens of thousands of adults and children in Israel struggle with severe speech limitations. Throughout the world, augmentative and alternative communication is an accepted therapeutic tool for people suffering from severe speech limitations due to cerebral palsy, developmental delay, autism, strokes, brain tumors, major accidents, and more.
In order to help people with these handicaps, a variety of devices and communication computers have been developed. These serve as superior communication aids for communication challenged people and often constitute their only way of verbally connecting with those around them.
These devices give the user ability to communicate at the touch of a button (or, at times, even through a focused glance) and enable him to “vocalize” pre-recorded messages or phrases typed into the device.
In view of the tremendous success of the conference, additional workshops are planned for professionals on the topic of speech generating devices and communication techniques and strategies.
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