Sex Act – (Assistive Communication Technology)

Some of you may be familiar with the Naidex exhibition that takes place annually in Birmingham. We like going there to see the latest innovations and equipment available in the marketplace. On one of our visits we happened across the very friendly company, Possum technologies  - they provide a range of assistance and automated products, but the one that caught our eye was the AAC device (think Stephen Hawking’s robot voice mini-computer thingy)..

Mike and I were fascinated to get up close and personal with this piece of kit, and had a bit of a play under the supervision of a possum person (we’ll call him Mr P). As we like exploring disability devices that could help with sex and intimacy, we took the opportunity to ask a few questions. From the images displayed on the device screen (at the time) it was clear to see that asking for a drink, needing the toilet, or managing a door entry system, were all easily achievable. What we couldn’t spot was an image to eye-click to ask for a hug, to ask for a kiss, or just say “I love you”.

AAC Device

In the throes of passion how could a person communicate their needs if there were no “buttons to press”? Mr P asked us for an example of a phrase that might be used, and my partner Mike’s humorous example of the phrase “Turn me over and do me like a bitch, big boy!” came out in a rather startling moment. In fairness to Mr P, he handled the situation very professionally!

Then he commented that he and his colleagues had customers with progressive degenerative conditions like Motor Neurone Disease, MS etc. While some of these customers had pre-recorded some phrases in their own voice for the AAC device, some hadn’t recorded enough diversity in their phrases. It ended up with members of staff adding supplementary recordings. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want a random voice belonging to a stranger saying “I love you” to Mike (and he might not appreciate it either).

It is a serious point, however - if you don’t have access to words, how are you able to communicate? It’s a bit like when wheelchair access to cinemas was made mandatory, “suddenly” there were more wheelchair users out and about. If you only have tea or coffee as an option on an AAC device, how can you ask for a Sex on the Beach cocktail? Spelling out individual words in orgasmic situations might interrupt the flow……

educational-assistive-technolog

I am in a fairly unusual position of experiencing transient episodes of full limb paralysis. On one occasion this was combined with loss of speech, so I had to resort to blinking once for “yes” and twice for “no” to the medical team. I couldn’t communicate my pain levels; I couldn’t press the call button for toileting needs; I couldn’t write down my symptoms or answer questions. I was lucky, in that within 48 hours I regained the use of my hands, so I could communicate by writing. This was fortunate, as it took 14 days for my speech to return.

To future-proof my communication channels, so that I am never in that position again, I have been researching companies that offer “voice-bank” services like Vocalid and Recordmenow (other companies are available). Also, during my web wanderings I discovered a really useful website called Communication Matters, All of these organisations have really good content that is both thought-provoking and practical – and I’m not getting any sweeteners for saying that! Definitely worth a look!

 

Lady inbed, using AAC device, voice comes out as Brian Blessed, Partner very confused.

So, if you are in the early stages of a progressive illness, it’s probably a good idea to plan ahead and bank your voice sooner rather than later. Please don’t be shy about the phrases you store, the professionals you are interacting with have probably heard it all before! (And if it’s a new one on them, well, you’re widening their knowledge base…). In fact, even if you are as fit as a fiddle now, consider banking your voice anyway. Even if you don’t need it yourself in the future, your vocal contribution could help somebody else out.

Your Friendly Neighbourhood Sex Goddess x

#YFNSG

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