Augmentative Communication and Assistive Technology Program

The Augmentative Communication and Assistive Technology Program serves all people living with ALS in the State of Oregon and SW Washington area, at no cost. The was the first care services program the chapter created over 20 years ago because we understand the importance of being able to communicate and interact with friends and family. Thankfully, modern technology offers many solutions. Please don't hesitate to contact our specialist for support.

Communication support offered for people with ALS

Speech: Speech strategy training to maximize intelligibility of natural speech.

Voice: trialing personal amplifiers to boost volume of voice while minimizing personal effort.

Communication Systems: rapid access or high-tech systems designed to be used for communication if unable to use natural speech. Rapid access systems might include dry-erase boards or letter boards, and high-tech systems might include iPads or Speech Generative Devices.

Augmentative and Alternative Communication Equipment Loan Program

The chapter maintains a selection of augmentative communication and assistive technology equipment available to all people living with ALS in our region, free of charge. This program is designed to introduce people living with ALS to technology that can help with communication, computer and telephone access, and safety.


The equipment we maintain is sustained by donations. New donations of equipment are appreciated, please call to inquire about accepted items. Examples include: personal amplifiers, laptop computers (Windows 7 or later, please), iPads (any generation), switches, digital recorders, Bluetooth speakers. If you are interested in donating wheelchairs and other medical equipment, please call our main office at (503) 238-5559 ext 100.

Assistive Technology

ALS is a devastating disease for both people living with ALS, caregivers and loved ones. Every person affected is different and ALS presents in various ways. It can cause loss of motor function in muscles from their legs, their arms, in the mouth and jaw, among other muscles that eventually leads to total paralysis. Ultimately, ALS affects their diaphragm leaving people unable to breathe on their own. Assistive technology can include a variety of tools and devices that improve quality of life for such as communication devices that allows people with ALS to communicate with ease, despite all their limitations.

Examples of communication devices:

  • Speech generating devices (SGD's): electronic devices that synthesize speech.
  • Eye gaze control systems: devices that use eye movement to select letters and words on a computer to synthesize speech.
  • Writing tablets: devices used to communicate when people still have the ability to write.
  • Brain computer interface (BCI): a system that allows a person to control a computer or other electronic devices using only his or her brainwaves, with no movement required. They can be used for communication, computer access or to control devices such as a wheelchair and prosthetic arms, among other applications.
  • Text to speech computer software programs: programs that consist of an on-screen keyboard and mouse that allows use without needing a person's hands.
  • Text to speech apps: apps for use on smart phones or tablets that convert text to speech.
  • Voice banking systems: devices that allow people with ALS to store the sound of their voice and recorded words and phrases before they lose their ability to speak.

Communication devices are categorized into two segments: dedicated and undedicated. A dedicated device is strictly a communication device in that the only function it performs is speech generation. Undedicated devices, which are computer based, not only speak, but also feature all the functions of a regular computer, such as word processing, email, internet access, among other applications.

Why It Matters

Assistive technology is a means to help improve the lives of people with ALS. Communication devices allow people with ALS to communicate with more effectively when they can no longer communicate on their own. This helps people become more independent, communicate medical decisions, and overall become a more active participant in their family and community. Assistive communication devices can be life changing in that people go from very little to no ability to speak to the ability to communicate again. In addition, access to the Internet through email and chat rooms provide a medium to find and meet others in the same situation to vent their frustrations and support each other.

Caregivers and loved ones can also benefit from the advances in assistive technology, by making life easier and less stressful both physically and mentally. For example, there are many smart phone apps that assist them, such as apps designed to provide pill reminders and give advice on caring for a loved one with ALS.

Assistive Technology Resources

Ashley Loyning

Ashley Loyning, MS, CCC-SLP is the Assistive Technology Services Coordinator. Ashley works with people with ALS to find the communication technology that works for them.

You can reach Ashley at ashley.loyning@alsoregon.org or 503-238-5559 x104.

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