Hi, I am Austin Hamby and I am 22 years old. I live in Capitola, CA in Santa Cruz County. I have a diagnosis of Joubert Syndrome and I am missing a part of my brain called the cerebellum vermis. Some ways it affects me are with global delays, poor coordination, low muscle tone, and being non-verbal.
When I was six years old I received my first “talker” which was a Vantage communication device. It opened up my world. At 12 years, I advanced to a Vanguard device and continued using my Vantage at home. My current device is an Accent 800 that I love. It is light weight and easy to navigate and I can take it anywhere because of the small size. People are fascinated when they see me using my Accent.
I am considered a high-functioning communication device user. I am able to communicate wants, needs, likes, preferences, ask questions, answer questions, and engage in conversations, including small talk.
In high school, I was the school newspaper’s question/answer reporter. I would develop questions that relate to everyone and select several students to interview. I really enjoyed that. I worked at the Children’s Discovery Museum telling stories to small children on my talker. I went to the library, selected books for small children, assisted with inputting the stories into the Accent and then read from the Accent device. Over the years, I would be called upon to meet with students that were just receiving communication devices. I was able to show them how I could use my machine and let them know how much it could change their life.
In 2015, I was able to start a YouTube page that was really fun and popular through this past May. I generally interviewed people in the community. That was great fun!