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Hello. I'm Jennifer Lowe. I'm the Executive Director of SHOUT. The acronym SHOUT stands for Sharing Helps
Others Use Technology.
I'm communicating by a sophisticated communication device that's called a Delta Talker. How it's
operated is by a light sensor that is attached to my glasses. The light sensor has a cord
which connects it to the device. Infrared lights are on the face of my Delta Talker.
When I hesitate on a light for a split second. It activates that particular key.
One of the things that the Minspeak system can do for a person who is unable to use oral
speech or hand signs, traditional hand signs, is to facilitate the rapid communication of
natural language in real time. It gives about a 65 percent break over spelling in terms
of the number of keystrokes.
Before augmentative communication with the voice it was rather frustrating because I
couldn't get someone's attention and I couldn't say really what I wanted and how I wanted.
I earned a Bachelor's degree from Edinboro University in Specialized Studies. I do a
lot of public speaking promoting SHOUT. I have been in Sweden, England, and Singapore,
and Duseldorf, Germany. I have spoken to little children, which was absolutely great. I love
to teach children about my disability and encourage them to ask questions. "Does it
hurt?" And I'm real with them. I answer, yes, sometimes. I give the example of people staring.
That hurts. I am not a thing. I'm a person.
Augmented communicators want to work. They feel that the productivity that they provide
to society just like any one of us. At the Pittsburgh Employment Conference, they know
they're the most important people at the conference, and the microphone is always given to the
augmented communicator first. I think one of the main reasons why the people are so
happy, the people who use augmented communication, and they feel like they can say whatever they
want, and they'll be heard.
The goal of the Pittsburgh Employment Conference for augmented communicators is to allow augmented
communicators from all over the world to gather together to discuss their issues. It's a wonderful
coming together, all on the level.
HERL does a variety of research, but the main focus of our research is on technology to
improve the mobility and function of individuals with severe disabilities. We have a large
focus or a large emphasis on wheelchair research.
One of the remarkable things about HERL I think is that we actually can to from conceptualizing
design to doing prototypes, to focus groups, making actual multiple units, all the way
to clinical demonstrations locally and even multi-site clinical trials here across the
One of the goals at our virtual reality lab is to help individuals with complex disabilities,
help them fulfill their full potential.
We believe that a lot of improvements in clinical practice and in also the design and fitting
of new technologies will occur in a virtual environment.
And in here we're looking at interface devices for individuals with complex disabilities,
such as multiple sclerosis, ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease, and traumatic brain injuries, as
well as cerebral palsy, where devices don't necessarily exist to meet many people's needs
or to help them fulfill their full potential.
So to give you an idea of what life was like in 1980 when I was first injured, was that
I had an 80-pound wheelchair, and I was a 125-pound person. Now, wheelchairs weigh 18,
Some of the issues that HERL later tackled, like repetitive strain injuries and carpal
tunnel syndrome and rotator cuff injuries and also shock and vibration exposure and
low back pain, those things people experienced at the time and many people had very limited
mobility and would actually become homebound because of those. But the connection had not
been made that the wheelchair might be part of the problem.
A lot of people probably overlook the impact that wheelchair sports, especially wheelchair
road racing, had on people with disabilities.
Changing perceptions. I like to say that my first 10K in a wheelchair, it took me over
50 minutes to do the 10K. When I retired from racing, I could do a 10K in under 25 minutes.
It's pretty hard to feel sorry for someone who basically beats your butt in a 10K.
One of the things I think that is very important, as a person with a disability, you need to
be leading the process. You need to be driving the process. Professionals can help you achieve
your goals, and your family can help support you in achieving your goals, but what's really
important is that you are the leader, you are the one setting the goals, and you are
the one staying in focus to achieve them.
My doctoral work is in wheelchair propulsion biomechanics, more specifically, training
individuals to push chairs in a safe, biomechanically correct way. And I'm using biofeedback to
help encourage people to propel better.
It's the hope of the study that it'll help improve people's independence and reduce the
likelihood of individuals developing upper-extremity pain and injury along the way.
I was a gymnast at the University of Illinois, and I was injured in 1993. And it was obviously
a huge adjustment. What's interesting, though, is that my path didn't change that significantly.
And I saw lots of other athletes who were real athletes whom I respected who also used
So as a newly injured person, you're confronted with the idea of using a wheelchair. And there's
obviously a stigma associated with that, and you have kind of misconceptions of disability.
And so I was in an atmosphere that was a very positive atmosphere and one that was really
conducive to my evolution as a person with a disability.
There's always going to be some slight limitations. But as a person with a disability, one of
the important characteristics of someone who succeeds and does well is that they learn