I get email questions from time to time. Folks ask a variety of questions concerning equipment, software and AT evaluations, advocacy, etc. I recently received a question that I felt might be good to share with everyone:
"What software can you purchase that would make the laptop function similarly to the Dynavox. So far, we're interested in Speaking Dynamically Pro. What do you think of this program and do you have any other suggestions?"
Great question! With the prices on dynamic display devices upwards to $7000, using a laptop can be an alternative. I have used laptops with Boardmaker Speaking Dynamically Pro, and it has a lot of potential. There is a lot of work that has to be put into building the communication sets/pages you want - but it can be done. A lot of thought and planning go into the software that comes loaded on devices and you can get ideas off of demo software and Internet sites to spark your own ideas with SDP. The program is about $649.
Dynavox sells its Series 5 software to load on a laptop. This gives you a chance to demo the whole system on the Dynavox devices on your laptop to get a feel for how it works. I got a free trial CD from our Oregon state representative from Dynavox. You might want to give the trial a try and see what you think. Also, if you do get the Boardmaker SDP, there is a CD called Velocity for about $399 that has sets ready to go - but you have to use the SDP with it and by the time you get the SDP @ $649 and the Velocity at $350 - you are in the $1000 range - maybe the Dynavox System 5 software is comporable.
Another thing to think about is that Dynavox has the Boardmaker Bridge that allows you to add sets you build with the SDP onto a Dynavox V Series. Since Mayer Johnson (which makes the Boardmaker products) and Dynavox are the same company now, there have been efforts to blend the devices with the software tools to provide a complete package. This effort has seemed to pay off. There are some great tools available through this company.
I have built speech device style branching topics with PowerPoint, although there is no way to access the choices other than a mouse. There is no scanning to make choices in PowerPoint. I am working on some basic communication pages with Powerpoint to provide in the future so check in for more on that as I get them put together. I have a video tutorial on how to assign sound and set up the basics of a communication board on the link above. You might want to check that out.
There really is no substitute for a dynamic display device, but if you are up to the challenge of building your own communication pages on a laptop to save money, it can be done.
All the best to you!
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