Assistive Technology for Communication: From Selection to Customizations

Nov 03rd 2021 at 4:00 pm PT

7:00pm ET,   6:00pm CT,  5:00 MT

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Nachum Lehman

Founder & Technical Director, Bridging Voice

Debra J Zeitlin

Clinical Director, Bridging Voice

Nachum Lehman is a System Architect, .NET developer and Network Engineer who has 35 years experience in computer programming and technical problem solving. He started programming in 1981 on a Timex Sinclair with 2k of ram. In 1997, he founded a not for profit to give individuals with disabilities the technical support they required to reliably and consistently use their assistive devices. That initiative still serves hundreds of clients using electronic Braille, augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), accessibility switches, smartphones, voice dictation, and everything in between. In 2006, he expanded these services to serve ALS patients using eye tracking devices. The results were amazing and terrifying at the same time. He quickly realized that many ALS patients were locked in simply because they were never properly trained to use the technology they had. Others were incommunicative because they never received the technologies which could help them. He devoted dozens of hours to each and every ALS patient, hired personnel to develop new and better communication systems for eye tracking devices and was on call 24 hours a day. He lives by the motto “All ALS patients can communicate and connect given the right support at the right time.”

Debra J Zeitlin is a speech-language pathologist with a specialty in assistive technology and over 40 years of experience evaluating and providing communication solutions for people with acquired disabilities including ALS. Debra worked for 35 years at the Helen Hayes Hospital, where she most recently served as the director of the Center for Rehabilitation Technology (CRT) from 2006-2017. Debra was responsible for redesigning the CRT to include an extensive demonstration center that provides state of the art assistive technology and educational outreach to the community. Debra has worked on the issues of augmentative and alternative communication on the state and local level, including co-directing a project with the NY State Office of Health Systems Management for revision of Medicaid funding for augmentative communication devices, and developing the curriculum for the statewide dissemination/education of these guidelines. In 2007, she was instrumental in the creation of the Program for Translational Neurological Research (PTNR) at the Helen Hayes Hospital, and between 2008 and 2013, she was the Principal Investigator at the Helen Hayes Site for the NIH-sponsored project, “General Purpose Brain-Computer Interface (BCI)”. Debra has made numerous presentations and published articles on the importance, impact and potential for augmentative communication, assistive technology and BCI.

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