Oralys is proud to be a leader in the research and development of software tools that empower people with specific challenges in organizing, communicating and/or learning. Our mission is to better understand and meet these needs and then provide highly accessible and evolutionary solutions. Ultimately, our goal is to help users interact and integrate successfully within our communities.
We’ve organized information into three categories. Whether you’re looking for yourself or someone else, start by identifying the main challenge.
When, Where, What and Why?
Being well-organized is a challenge for anyone with a busy lifestyle, let alone someone with the inability to easily juggle time and tasks. This inability is related to the brain’s executive functioning, and can be relatively common.
People with organizational needs don’t think differently; they simply require assistance to help the brain organize and act on the available information. Sometimes called “executive function deficiency”, an organizational disorder can be the result of many things, and can appear early or later in life. In varying degrees of severity, individuals may have trouble planning, sequencing, prioritizing, organizing, memorizing and physically completing a given task, or a combination of these.
People with these challenges may be highly intelligent, gifted, artistic or athletic… and still struggle with seemingly simple tasks like turning in their homework, getting dressed or preparing a meal. There are many faces and forms of this relatively common disorder.
A Personal Scheduling Partner Can Help…
Fortunately, and like all skills, executive functioning can be strengthened. Given the right support and custom tools – e.g., ones that organize daily activities with a sequence of steps as visual, textual or vocal prompts – people with organizational needs benefit from an imposed structure when interacting with their environment. Over time and with practise, this can improve scheduling efficiency, productivity and on-task behaviour.Learn More
For people struggling with organizational disorders, set routines and a structured environment are enormously helpful. There’s nothing more frustrating than not intuiting what “comes next”, getting so lost in the process that you lose sight of the goal, or constantly being corrected and hurried as you try to accomplish something. Clear-cut structuring and scheduling can help challenged individuals feel more secure, improve their self-esteem, and give them a consistent and dependable guide to rely on daily.
What’s the biggest challenge? Strategize according to the user’s needs, and make it personal.
- Establish a structured timetable to follow throughout the day
- Break each task down into small, manageable steps
- Add prompts to increase awareness of time and overall tasks
- Integrate visual and/or audio cues
- Use clear vocal instructions and repeat as necessary
- Prompt user with reminders for the next step
- Create step-by-step sequences to improve focus on the task at hand
- Use visual confirmation of completed tasks
- Use visual prompts to make expectations clear
- Advanced warning of transitions reduces frustration and anxiety
- Create separate schedules for home, school and work
- Prioritize tasks and categorize information into groups
- Integrate visual and/or vocal cues to learn new information
- Use repetition to learn and maintain a reliable routine
- Adjust schedules as user evolves, to acknowledge growth or change
- Ensure that instructions are both simple and abundantly clear
- Reward or praise for completing tasks to reinforce self-esteem
Make conversations happen
Interacting with friends, expressing feelings, making a phone call, voicing an opinion or ordering food at a restaurant are all integral aspects of self-expression that are characterized by the ability to share and direct information in the form of speech and language.
Communicating is the process by which one individual expresses, receives and comprehends ideas, feelings, opinions and messages. A communication need arises when a person has difficulty in conveying messages or conversing with others.
A Personal Communicator Can Help
Fortunately for those with communications challenges, there are simple voice-output tools which can provide comfort and support. With specialized needs-based visual strategies, proper learning techniques and appropriate interventions, these support tools can compensate for and facilitate our daily need to communicate. In turn, this ultimately allows an individual to have a more active, engaged and independent quality of life.Learn More
Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC)
AAC includes all forms of communication (other than oral speech) that is used to express an individual’s thoughts, needs, wants, and ideas. AAC devices, also called assistive-communication aids, include voice output systems that help users develop language skills and express their thoughts, needs, wants and ideas with others. They often offer integrated pictograms, personal photos or images from the Internet, as well as text and sound, to facilitate verbal exchanges and language learning. An AAC solution focused on interactive communications can provide an individual with functional and spontaneous communication abilities when these skills are missing or impaired.
Assistive technology is designed to augment and facilitate communication, not replace or impede existing skills. Many different AAC methods and tools are used by individuals of all ages with a wide variety of physical and cognitive difficulties. It might be someone with a communication challenge since birth, such as autism, cerebral palsy, and/or learning disabilities, and some people will have a need later in life, when they lose their ability to communicate as a result of stroke, brain injury or a degenerative disease.
- Build visual communication grids
- Provide a natural-sounding voice output
- Ensure quick access to an extended visual vocabulary
- Use color coding of vocabulary for quick referencing to words and phrases
- Provide visual support and text
- Use simple and concrete symbols
- Include sufficient activity-specific vocabulary terms
- Encourage interactions with gestures, writing and drawing
Today’s fast-paced world makes unrelenting demands on our brains, to quickly and continuously process and retain new information. Those of us with learning needs or disabilities are faced with specific challenges when receiving, analyzing and storing information. This can make it difficult for some people to read, write, spell, recall information or organize their thoughts.
A challenge with learning is no reflection on a person’s intelligence; in fact, individuals with learning disabilities usually have an average or above-average intelligence. With the right support and tools, they can overcome this challenge and transform difficulties into achievements.
Students with learning challenges are often given an Individualized Education Program (IEP) that helps parents and teachers identify their personal strengths and weaknesses, in order to come up with a customized plan to help him or her perform optimally in school. These IEP programs often include assistive equipment or tools that will accompany the student throughout his or her educational years.
A Personal Reading & Writing Assistant Can Help…
Everyone has the right to learn, and deserves the power to achieve. With the right tools — ones that offer and can implement needs-based strategies, proper learning techniques and appropriate interventions — an individual with learning challenges can excel academically, professionally and socially.Learn More
Assistive technology can be a big help in this area, making it easier for the individual to create something in writing, record it, edit, publish and share it. Support tools can be specific to the ability that is missing or impaired, and by overcoming certain deficits, the individual is then free to be more creative, e.g., developing their imagination instead of spending too much time on the mechanics. Of course, this doesn’t cure or eliminate the learning challenge, but it does provide positive reinforcement for the user and lets him or her capitalize on personal strengths.
- Use of pictures, graphics, ideograms and diagrams to support instructions
- Having information presented both visually and verbally
- List of “thought trigger” words to help users who struggle with composition and sentence structure
- Oral exams instead of written exams
- Reducing visual pollution to help individuals stay focused
- Use of color filters to improve the perception of text
- The ability to highlight, underline and/or extract key works or instructions for later review
- Use of word predictors, auto word-completion and spell-checking
- Quick access to vocabulary resources