Communication Aids

If you have Motor Neurone Disease (MND) and need a communication aid we may be able to help.

For some people their first symptoms of MND affects their ability to speak clearly. If you need assistance communicating we may be able to help by lending specialist communication aids while you wait for your own equipment from the NHS.

Depending on your abilities there are a number of different devices that can be loaned. Items we may be able to offer include; laptops, desktop computers, iPads with text to speech apps and eye-gaze equipment.

Communication aids benefit anyone who may have lost or is losing their voice. However, it is important to note this does not happen to everyone diagnosed with MND. They can also help someone who is having problems writing or typing.

A communication aid is something that will assist a person to communicate if they have problems speaking, writing or typing.

Another term you may hear is AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication). AAC covers a huge range of aided techniques which support or replace spoken communication, from signing to eye-gaze technology. Methods vary and can be personalised to meet each individual’s needs.

We also offer a loan of other types of equipment, from our equipment loan service, for people with MND.

All you have to do is ask your MND Clinical Specialist to put in an application for you.

They will arrange for a qualified Speech and Language Therapist (SLT) or an organisation such as the Scottish Centre for Technology for the Communication Impaired (SCTCI) to come and assess you.

Once you have been assessed, the SLT or SCTCI will make a recommendation for the equipment required and send an application to MND Scotland and to your local health board.

MND Scotland may not be able to lend exactly what is recommended, but we will be able to lend something suitable until the recommended equipment is supplied by your health board.

Health professionals should read our guidance notes on this process.

Note: Legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2016 will place a duty on health boards to supply communication aids for people who require it.  At the time of writing no date has yet been set for when this duty will commence and provision of equipment across the country is currently variable.

We can offer a loan of different types of communication aids, such as: 

  • Laptop computers
  • iPads with text to speech apps
  • Alternative control devices such as eye-gaze, Headmouse or SmartNav devices
  • We can also direct you to downloadable text to speech software

Have a look at some more examples of the types of communications equipment we may be able to lend. 

Rather than borrow a laptop or tablet, some people prefer that their own PC or laptop is used. 

We are able to lend equipment such as eye-gaze units, or Headmouse cameras and software for this kind of use.  We are unable to install licensed communications software, such as The Grid or Tobii Communicator 5, on someone’s own device. However, we can refer people to sources of free software which can be used in their place.

Find out more about the communication software we can lend and examples of some free software. We also have information specifically for MAC users.

If you are experiencing minor changes to your speech, you can ask your MND Clinical Specialist about the possibility of ‘banking’ your voice.

There is a research project called ‘Speak Unique’ running at the University of Edinburgh.

This project aims to rebuild a synthesised version of someone’s own voice for use with AAC devices. Unfortunately the more damaged the person’s voice is the more difficult that becomes and those with severely damaged voices may need to rely on one of the standard voices that come with the device.

Find out more about the Speak Unique research project and how to get involved.

If you are having problems with your speech you may want to consider playing around with aids, such as speech Apps, before you really need them, to become familiar with the equipment and software.

We also offer a loan of other types of equipment, from our equipment loan service, for people with MND.

Have a question? Contact us for more information.

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Motor Neurone Disease is a rapidly progressing terminal illness, which stops signals from the brain reaching the muscles.

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