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Posted on May 2, 2023

All about Ellise and her communication journey

Ellise is a 21-year-old motivational speaker who uses Grid Pad 12 with eye gaze to communicate using Fast Talker.

Grid has given Ellise a voice she can be proud of and helped her establish a career.

Keep reading to find out more about Ellise and how she uses assistive technology.

Tell us about yourself?
My name is Ellise, I am 21 and just happen to have cerebral palsy. I’ve always been very accepting of my disability and always look on the positive side and try my best in everything. I’m a strong minded person and set goals for myself to achieve.

My disability isn’t a barrier, I’ll always find a way, even though I am slower and things take me longer, I’ll get there eventually. I’m a motivational speaker, AAC Mentor and AAC Ambassador who works in the education and healthcare sectors, sharing my life story and personal experiences.

How did your journey with assistive technology begin?
In secondary school, I was allocated a laptop to use with an eye gaze camera funded by the Physical Impairment and Medical Support (PIMS) team. I used this for all of my communication and curriculum access.

However, I didn’t like using my voice output, as I didn’t want others to hear me. It sounded very computerised and I have always just wanted to blend in and be like everyone else. Therefore, my support assistant would stand to the side or behind me, so that they could read what I was saying.

When did you start using Grid?
When I was still at school, I met a new member of the PIMS team, Lynne, and she suggested that I should be assessed for a communication aid. Following the referral and assessment for a communication aid, I was allocated my Grid Pad 12.

Lynne also looked at different voices that I could use. Together we found the Queen’s voice which I liked very much. It was when I began to use Queen Elizabeth II’s voice that I decided to allow my computer to talk for me, instead of relying on someone else to read everything that I typed.

How did it feel when you started using your new voice?
For the first time in my life I felt comfortable and proud to be able to talk. It was at this point that Lynne suggested that I should begin to use my voice to inform and teach others about my experiences. This is what motivated me to get into speaking to larger groups of people.

I want to make sure that people understand, that I, and many other physically impaired people like me, have a good mind, with lots of ideas, and we need to feel included, by everyone, not left on the sidelines looking in, and wishing we could be involved.

What impact has your device had on your day-to-day experiences?

I wouldn’t go anywhere without my eye gaze now, it’s been life changing

My life has changed positively since I have my communication aid and this is how I started my motivational speaking career.

My communication is as good as it can be, it is a little slower than the majority of people, but, I can say anything that I want to say! I just need a little extra time to type my messages. I am an average 21 year old young lady, with lots to say and lots of ideas that I want to convey to people.

In this short video created by The Careers & Enterprise Company, hear more from Ellise and her experience as a SEND student.

Hear from Ellise

Follow Ellise on Twitter: @Ellise_Hayward

Do you have a story to share?

We are collecting stories of people who use Grid to show how assistive technology helps people communicate and live more independent lives.

If you would like to share your story, please contact us below.

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