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The Pathfinder

The PathFinder is a high-tech computerized form of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). Current models feature a high resolution half VGA touch screen with a 256 color display. Directly below the screen is a keyboard with 32, 64 or 128 keys which can be activated either by touch or through the use of an infrared head pointer.

The Pathfinder uses synthesized speech and is able to speak thousands of words. The speech output can be adjusted in order to reflect the age and gender of the person using it. Additional options include the use of sounds, songs and different languages.

The Pathfinder is useful for more than simply communicating. It functions in many ways like a computer. Users are able to upload and download information through floppy disks. Basic word processing functions allow users to write documents and edit the text, and a computer emulation mode allows Pathfinder to imitate a computer keyboard.

To increase the speed of typing words into the Pathfinder, the program Word Prediction is used. As one begins to spell a word, a list of popular words beginning with the letter(s) already typed appear as a series of options at the bottom of the screen. The user then has the option of continuing to type the word or selecting the word from the list. Other built in programs allow the user to select words with just one or two hits, and allow the Pathfinder to recognize and adapt to the user's individual vocabulary.

The Pathfinder is fairly small (approximately 4.5 lbs. in weight) and is usually mounted on the wheelchair. The user may require assistance with setting it up, turning it on and positioning a head pointer (if one is used).

Resources

The Prentke Romich Company http://www.prentrom.com/
This site includes information on funding sources, what is important in AAC and success stories of users.

Pathfinder Underground (information from a user perspective)
http://www.roughmagic.net/pathfind/index.html

Mention of the Pathfinder does not imply endorsement by this project or the University of KY.