2 page Case Study
Posted: 11/4/2011
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Abu Dhabi Center for Autism Students at Abu Dhabi Center for Autism Use Assistive Technology to Communicate and Develop Language Skills

Students with autism often have trouble communicating, making it challenging to interact with school peers and teachers. At the Abu Dhabi Center for Autism, part of Zayed Higher Organization for Humanitarian Care and Special Needs in the United Arab Emirates, students and teachers use an assistive technology device called theDynaVox Maestro. Built on the Windows 7 operating system, this device helps students interact, communicate, and develop language skills so that they can integrate and function in society.

Communication Challenges in School
Students who lack the ability to engage in language communication are often segregated into special classrooms or schools and are seldom capable of keeping up with their peers. Their inability to communicate effectively often causes these children to “act out” their frustration, which, in turn, means that they are sometimes mislabeled as being unable to integrate. Their disabilities affect their personal relationships, making it difficult for them to establish and maintain friendships. Consequently,social isolation is a reality for many of these students.

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* Now Abdul
Rahman has full communication freedom, connecting with anyone, at any time he wants.
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Khalid Barakat
Teacher, Abu Dhabi Center for Autism

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Abdul Rahman, a student in Abu Dhabi who relied on a limited picture communication system to communicate at school, faced these challenges each day. His frustration in not being able to communicate was apparent. He tended to shy away from peers and teachers—except for one specific teacher, Mr. Barakat. Abdul Rahman began using Maestro, a communication device that runs on Windows 7, to communicate in school. “Now Abdul Rahman has full communication freedom, connecting with anyone, at any time he wants,” explains Khalid Barakat, a teacher at the Abu Dhabi Center for Autism.

Removing Communication Barriers
The DynaVox Maestro provides individuals who have speech and language disabilities with a way to communicate through electronic speech generation technology. The Maestro does not require others to know how the device works; they just need to be a willing participant in the conversation.

The Maestro Speech Communication Device
Developed by Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania–based DynaVox Mayer-Johnson, the Maestro offers people confronted by communication barriers the means to communicate and socialize more effectively.

The Maestro’s InterAACT language framework presents vocabulary in a way that is meaningful and relevant to the individual, providing context when needed and ensuring that individuals can find the right words for every situation. InterAACT not only supports face-to-face interactions but also communication by email, text message, and phone. The Maestro’s hardware also lets individuals interact with the device via touch and other alternative access methods, such as scanning, gazing, using a joystick, or even Morse code.

Powerful Accessibility Features
Because DynaVox Maestro is built on the Windows 7 operating system, users benefit from a powerful, flexible communication tool. The integration of DynaVox hardware and software with the Windows 7 operating system expands options for individuals with disabilities―especially those who have physical disabilities―by extending accessibility features with a series of alternative input methods. Maestro users can navigate to the Windows desktop and other Windows-based applications through the same methods used to access the InterAACT communication software.

Microsoft Partners in Learning
Microsoft recognizes that accessibility empowers and enables people of all abilities to realize their full potential and has a long history of accessibility innovation. Learn more at the Microsoft Accessibility website:

www.microsoft.com/enable


Accessibility in Education
Microsoft builds accessibility features into our products, empowering students with accessible technology that enables personalized learning.
www.microsoft.com/education/enable
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