Hi I’m Caytlin, I’m 31 years old and I’m a social worker. I love to live life to the fullest and I never allow the disability to get in the way of anything I want to do.

Growing up, I went right through mainstream primary school without a communication device, using just a communication board to communicate and do my school work with.  With the help of my family and therapists, I got a DeltaTalker in 1999, when I was in Year 6.  Due to people at the primary school being unfamiliar with assistive technology, I didn't really start to use my communication device until Year 7.  That is when I became an individual and started to grow as a person.

As I was becoming more and more familiar with the icon sequences and the way they were formed, I started to feel the weekly session were not enough.  As it is very much a memory game, I felt I had to be regularly using it or I would never remember everything.  So whenever I got a chance, I would practice, just going through all the icons at my own pace.  I know this may sound funny but the way I remember sequences is to make up little stories using the names and meanings of the icons involved.

I'm not going to say I know Minspeak to death, I don't.  I still find words in the Minspeak vocabulary that I don't know.  But if I find a word that I'm using regularly, I will take notice of its icon sequence and make up one of my crazy little stories so I don't have to keep spelling the word all the time.  For me, that is what Minspeak is about.  You have to build the vocabulary up in your head, gradually.  No way could anyone learn Minspeak overnight.  It takes time. 

Just the other day, for example, I learned the icon sequence for the word "cherry".  You're there doubting me now.  You're thinking "She's writing a Minspeak User Guide without knowing a simple sequence like how to get cherry!?" You're right, I didn't.  I don't like to eat cherries so I don't usually use the word, it was only that I was saying I wanted a Cherry Ripe, I needed to know this sequence.  At first, I did APPLE  APPLE STOP, because, hey, cherries are red and we know that the STOP icon means red.  I ended up typing "can I have a Tomato Ripe!" APPLE APPLE STOP actually gives the word "tomato." So I had to go back and spell cherry and then it gave me the icon prompt of APPLE APPLE UMBRELLA.  "That makes sense!"  The shape of a cherry looks like an upside down umbrella! 

So now you can see learning Minspeak is not a great race.  You can learn as you go, take all the time you need.  The icon prompt are really important, they are always there for you can to learn sequences any time.  So it is wise to stop to watch the prompt that comes up after spelling the word, remembering you have to put a space at the end of the word for this to work. 

For the people who know me, I'm just like every other twenty-one year old girl.  I love to go out with friends, shopping and hanging out.  I study and sometimes hate it, and most of all I want to work!

This being said, I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for assistive technology.  And I know that this assistive technology is only going to get better in the future, this will not only improve my life, but it will have a greater impact on people who are younger than me.  They are going to grow into a world that is more accepting of disabilities and assistive technology and also by then, the inventions will be more advanced.  I hope my journey encourages other disabled people to get the most out of life.

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