CanAssist

University of Victoria

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Voice Amplification System Modification

Roger Teed wanted to be heard.

A knowledgeable man on everything from world affairs to hot peppers, Roger never had a problem expressing his opinions. Unfortunately, a progressive neurological disease was weakening his voice.

As a respected contributor to the board meetings at Nigel House, the adult residential care facility where he lives, Roger (seated) gets help from co-op student Alex (middle) and CanAssist's Brandon.Roger was also hampered by an awkward and inefficient microphone system. The valuable feedback Roger could provide at these meetings was getting lost in the crackle and pop of his microphone's distracting feedback.

Brandon Fry, the member of CanAssist's engineering team, was able to fix the small but irritating feedback problem right away. “I just put a piece of wind screen as a pop filter over the mouthpiece,” Brandon explains.

But for Sylvia Adams, Roger's occupational therapist, the biggest hope was that CanAssist could help Roger to use his microphone on his own. Because his condition had affected his motor skills, Roger needed help to use it.

“The old microphone didn't really have a proper resting place,” Brandon says. “The microphone just kind of floated in space, which made it hard for Roger to get it close enough to his mouth and yet it was always in the way.”

So Brandon put the microphone at the end of an aluminum arm, which he mounted to a clamp on the back of Roger's chair. A small pivot allows the arm to move vertically between two fixed positions – close to his mouth and up and away from his face. Both of these positions are within Roger's range of motion, meaning he can now move his microphone independently.

Another small but important part of the modification was to change the location of the speaker. Roger's speaker had been mounted to the back of his chair, meaning the sound was travelling in the opposite direction that Roger was speaking, often making it difficult for his listeners to hear.

The system's speaker was positioned so Roger could easily access it.So Alex Vargas, an engineering co-op student with CanAssist, simply moved and mounted the speaker to the lower right side of Roger's chair to help the sound quality.

With the new system in place, Roger's sense of humour could really come through. On delivery day, Roger tried out his new microphone by getting CanAssist staff members to move farther and farther back, asking: “Can you hear me now?” He kept asking … until they were all the way in another room!

We're pretty sure that everyone can hear Roger very clearly now.


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