Why Low Tech?

Reasons People Use Low Tech: 


Notes:  Low tech is not a replacement for a high tech system. Low tech is one part of a complete communication system. 


Fast & Efficient

Low Tech Can Be Relatively Faster Than High Tech for Some People

Jason has an eye gaze communication system, and uses it expertly. However, he estimates that he uses his laser for about 75% of his communication. This is because he is much faster using his laser with a core vocabulary board.

When he uses his eye gaze computer, he spells his message out letter by letter (with some word prediction). 

When he uses his laser pointer, he is creating his message word by word (with some spelling).

Check out Jason blogging using his laser and board.


If a person is physically able to use a laser, they may be able to use a core vocabulary board. Using core vocabulary can make communication much faster.

Core vocabulary is made up of the most frequently used words in the English language. There are some people who might not be able to use core vocabulary on a high tech device, but can use it with a laser.

Check out this video of Connie using both her laser, and her laptop.

She doesn't have the physical ability to use a standard on-screen keyboard. However, she is able to quickly and accurately point to over 160 targets on giant communication board. She is much faster using the laser than using her computer.



There are times and locations where it's not feasible to use a communication device.

Joyce is a very skilled and sophisticated eye gaze user. However, she can't use her computerized eye gaze system out in the sunlight. 

Joyce is a huge NY Mets fan. When she is at a baseball game, on her patio, or running an errand, she communicates using her E-TRAN board (pictured).

She also uses partner assisted scanning for quick messages at night.


 Can Be Relatively Physically Easy to Use


Certain types of low tech may be physically easier for an individual to use, compared to how the same individual might access a communication device.










To Augment Speech

Most people with a progressive speech disability prefer to use their own natural speech for as long as possible. 

Robert only uses the board to spell out a word when he is not understood. 


 Interdependence & Human Connection

Doug uses his communication device for emails, for his online ministry, and for writing his memoirs.

However, Doug prefers his laser and communication board for face to face conversations. 

This is partly because his laser is faster, but partly because he feels his communication partners are more engaged when he uses low tech.

Doug mentioned that when he puts his message together using his device, people tend to get impatient and try to fill the silence, or wander away. He feels that when they help him put together with the message they are taking a more active and engaged role in the conversation.


For Emergency or
Temporary Communication

Some people might only need a communication system temporarily (for example, while intubated in the hospital).

There are also conditions, such as Guillain-Barré, where a person could lose the ability to speak, but later might regain it.


 While Learning to Use a High Tech Device


When Fatigued


...and last but not least....

As a Backup for a High Tech Device

Ana uses her speech generating device all the time, for conversations, emails, texts and social media. She only uses her laser pointer when her device is in for repairs, or when she is travelling by airplane.

She also uses partner assisted scanning when she is in the bathroom, in her van, or to put together a quick message in the middle of the night.