Words from therapists
Our nous™ customers come in many flavours - they're not just people with disabilities, but family members, carers, health professionals, speech and language therapists (SLTs), occupational therapists (OTs), insurance and government staff.
Over the years that we've spent co-designing nous™, we've learned the incredible role that SLTs and OTs play in getting the right assistive technology solution for their clients.
Here, we've collated feedback from a number of therapists we've worked with. It's not only to show the usefulness of nous™, but the information can also be used by therapists to gauge whether nous™ is suitable for their clients.
What do therapists think of nous™?
Instead of us doing the talking and summarising their thoughts, we thought we'd provide you with the real deal... here's what they had to say:
Courtney Coe, OT (New Zealand)
"It provides individuals [with severe physical disabilities] with an access method. As long as you can blink purposely you can use this device. I love that it gives people the opportunity of having a voice. It gives people the ability to express themselves. Many of us take for granted in life that we can open our mouths and speak, that we can write, that we can sign. But for people with severe physical disabilities, who can't use their hands or voice to communicate, that can't use their hands or feet to switch, this is the perfect solution.
The team behind it are also amazing as is their customer service. They are always available to help if you need them and happy to come setup. This is great because communication access is so important and it is also important to work with suppliers who truly care and are responsive. Not only that, but Thought-Wired were super responsive to feedback and took on board suggestions when we were finding aspects of the device or software challenging."
Lorraine Grundy, OT (New Zealand)
"It provides a method of access (blink) that is not currently available in any other device. That is, you do not have to sit upright and have a camera identify your blink. So the person's physical position is not critical. The nous™ software appears to work particularly well with Grid 3 software."
Lynda Strathdee, SLT (New Zealand)
"One of the most stand out features of the product is that it eliminates the need for our clients to have a reliable movement."
Mark Dewar, OT (New Zealand)
"In its simplest form it provides a cost effective switch with variable activation control. With this, and the flexibility of positioning nous™, the product provides an effective alternative to other forms of switch input for communication."
Lise Bleau, OT (Canada)
"My patient has been using intentional blinks to communicate for years and to date any ‘’blink’’ switch always required hard blinks that were either too tiring or too difficult for the patient to perform. nous™ was different as it allowed my patient to use habitual, intentional blinks to control scanning to access communication software. Natural blinks weren’t falsely detected, only the patient’s intentional blinks. My patient showed that they were very pleased with their performance."
How do therapists think we can improve nous™?
We really care about the ideas that therapists have around ways in which we can improve nous™ - after all, they are the experts! A lot of the ideas they have are aspects that we're working on. That's the beauty of talking to our users, we can learn what's need and make changes quickly.
With the therapists' feedback we learned that the only area of improvement was the calibration process. Therapists observed that with some clients, they needed to recalibrate a number of times, which affected the overall user experience. This is something that we're actively working on, to make our calibration process smarter, by learning about the user's blink patterns, and more effortless, so it transitions to a more automatic process.
What are some client requirements they'd recommend other therapists consider when trialling nous™?
With new technology, like nous™, it can be useful to get some tips and tricks from those who have used the technology before. If you're a therapist, wanting to trial nous™ with your clients, here are some things that OTs and SLTs recommend:
- your client should have a reasonable level of cognitive ability. However nous™ has also effectively been used to teach things like "cause and effect", so this might be at the therapists discretion.
- they should show the ability to blink voluntarily
- during the trial, make sure you use nous™ to perform tasks that suit your client's wants and needs
- make sure you have family support and buy-in
- manage your client's energy levels and fatigue, as it can be tiring to use when they are just starting out
- For some clients, using nous™ is an instant success, but for others, who need to learn how to blink intentionally, it can take time. Be patient with your clients
- nous™ can be used by clients with a variety of types of disability, such as cerebral palsy, ALS, traumatic brain injury, high spinal cord injury, stroke
What other access methods can be used with nous™?
We've written up a detailed post on the different ways in which nous™ can be combined with other access methods. Here is a summary from the therapists:
- nous™ can be used in combination with a head mouse, where the person could "blink to click"
- nous™ can be used with any switch that plugs into a hitch adaptor, and has bluetooth controls
- Using nous™ and a head-switch for two-switch scanning. This provides users with more control and sometimes more speed
- Using nous™ as an alternative to ‘dwell to select’ for eye gaze. Use your eyes like a computer mouse, and use your eyes to blink to “click”
- Using nous™ as a supplementary access method, for different environments and when user’s are fatigued