By Brandon Williamson, PRC-Saltillo Blogger
I had my old Vantage for 8 years. It was broken and I had outgrown the device. It had a cracked screen and was being held together by duct tape. When we submitted approval for a new device in 2010, my funding source kept denying the funding for a new device. I set up a meeting and I went to downtown Columbus, Ohio to meet with 2 state representatives to advocate for a new device.
Before the meeting at the Ohio Statehouse, we went out to lunch at The Plaza Restaurant in the Sheraton Columbus Hotel at Capitol Square. It was my birthday that day. I had a cheeseburger with extra onions, extra pickles, lettuce and tomatoes, french fries with ranch dressing, and a Diet Coke. During lunch, I didn’t even talk about anything related to my device. I felt happy and excited. My older sister was there with me, as well as Jenny Monahan, PRC’s Senior Consultant for Central Ohio. It was a very long day and I didn’t talk that much, because I felt nervous.
After lunch, we went to the Ohio Statehouse for the meeting. The state representatives had the assistant director of Medicaid join us. He saw how bad my device was and 2 weeks later I was able to get funding for a new device. I felt happy that I attended the meeting as a PRC advocate and made a difference in obtaining a very needed new device so that I could speak with others.
Upon meeting with state representatives, I received a new and functional Vantage device. PRC and my local representative, Jenny, set me up with a new device so that I could speak. My new device made it a lot easier to navigate and communicate with other people. It also wasn’t being held together by duct tape. I now have an even newer device, an Accent 1000, that I was able to receive funding for after I outgrew my Vantage. My favorite part about this device is using the hardware diagnostic feature to troubleshoot and navigate and that it allows me to type and spell with word prediction. My Accent is also more durable than my old device.
Back in 2010, I had to stand up for what I needed to receive a new AAC device. I feel like I have helped pave the way for other AAC users to speak up and talk to others when they need assistance. I think my voice was heard loud and clear by the state representatives. I want to continue to make a significant impact on the AAC community and to help others feel confident in asking for help. My best advice to others experiencing the same issue as I did is to not hesitate to advocate for yourself!
Communicators In Action - aac, advocate, ada, communication, language, vantage, accent, legal, government, laws