Home > Profiles > Profiling Asako

Asako: Author and technology consultant

Asako is shown in professional clothing for a presentation, with her head stick for communicationI became a quadriplegic and unable to speak after suffering a brain stem injury when I was in 7th grade. Since I was only 13 years old at the time, my physical appearance changed drastically to the point of being nearly unrecognizable. I still face common misconceptions based on how I look even today. However, I believed then that if I could fully utilize my surviving human abilities, I could gain understanding from those around me. Even if I needed special assistance, I could somehow participate in social life activities.

In 1981, I made a head stick as my self-help tool while I was staying at a rehabilitation hospital. I then learned how to express my feelings and thoughts by typing on a typewriter or word processor. While at home, I created my own personal letter board using a word processor in order to improve communication with people I would meet on my outing events.

In 1988, with my letter board and head stick, I traveled through Western China for one month with people I met through participation events. After the trip, I started using Namco’s compact communication device “Talking Aid” to enable my communication over the phone. This encouraged me to pursue an independent life. I left home and moved into a residential home for the physically disabled, and regularly used the Talking Aid as my daily communication device. My range of activities, both in and out of the residential facility, took on many forms from there on.

In 1996, because I was very vocal with suggestions for improving the Talking Aid, I began exchanging ideas with the company about upgraded versions or new products. In the video clip below, Asako is demonstrating and commenting on some of the features of her device.

Asako conversing in her room

View Video Clip in Windows Media Format

Asako shown from the side, using her headstick to run her communication deviceI started using the computer in 1997. I had written many magazine articles using the word processor and facsimile machine but with the computer I published a book in 1998 entitled “Kuruma-isu no Shiten” (directly translated as “The World Viewed from a Wheel Chair”). This marked an increase in opportunities to give presentations and write more articles, enabling me to speak in front of an audience using the computer and a projector.

 

Beginning in 2002, I took part in starting up Namco’s welfare-related web site “Hustle Club.” I was given the opportunity to share my experiences by writing on the weekly diary corner entitled “Asako Matsumoto’s Talking Aid Club.” And in 2003, I started working for Namco, which I continue to do to this day.

Most of my time is involved in working with the Hustle Club web site, but I also take part in checking/validating Namco’s new product the “Talking Aid IT,” and giving presentations whenever such opportunities arise. The Talking Aid IT, released in 2003, looks almost identical to the Talking Aid, but function-wise, includes features not available in its predecessor, such as enabling conversion to kanji characters, e-mailing, and clearer voice identification.

A BBS corner is available within the Talking Aid Club accessible from the “Hustle Club” web site. I welcome participation from around the world from those using AT or AAC devices in sharing personal experiences. I am not sure whether there would be any possible language barries, but I am eagerly waiting for many messages. In the video clip below, Asako is shown browsing the internet. (In fact, she is viewing the AAC enABLES web site!!)

Asako is shown using a head stick to access a keyboard to browse the web

View Video Clip in Windows Media Format

The residential care facility that I reside in permits physically disabled individuals requiring constant care aged 18 or over. Members are entitled to receive medical and nursing services. 80 individuals are currently living in this facility.