TobiiDynavox Rehire Lucas Steuber

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An Open Letter to TobiiDynavox,

It has come to our attention that Lucas Steuber has been dismissed/asked to leave/“laid off” from his position with TobiiDynavox. As a community we are dismayed and angry about his departure from TD. Lucas was able to restore faith that was lost in the TD company since Tobii acquired Dynavox. 

Although his tenure was short at TD, Lucas’ compassion and focus on the AAC user was paramount in reminding us all what a great company Tobii had been and could be again. Lucas has always put the needs of the AAC user first. He responded to messages from professionals, caregivers and AAC users with compassion, truthfulness and humility.  He never gave us pat answers, but would tell us when he didn’t know something or something would take a long time before happening. Lucas values transparency. He would engage with those who reached out to him and take time to find out what was needed and how both he and TobiiDynavox could better serve those who use AAC. 

At the time of the acquisition of Dynavox by Tobii many of us in the field had sworn off or reluctantly supported Dynavox products. We had had too many struggles with the poor quality vocabularies, hit or miss service from technical support, lack of backward compatibility and customer representatives who sometimes misrepresented their products to make a sale. Sadly much of this carried over into the new, merged TobiiDynavox. 

Products were sometimes misrepresented, such as the Indi being advertised as having switch access, when it did not have switch ports. The introduction of Snap + Core, in general, was another example, as Snap + Core pairs a poorly arranged vocabulary with lack of features to support most alternative access users. As professionals, caregivers and AAC users we were all frustrated and looking for alternatives.  Alternatives are easy to find for users with fair to good motor skills in this age of AAC apps, but it is the AAC users who need alternative access that were repeatedly put to the bottom of the list for AAC they could use, and use well. The Indi is a case in point, designed, we were told on its release, to be purchased by parents for their children, yet it only truly included features for those using a direct selection methodology and, as mentioned above, and the vocabulary was not arranged well.  As far as we can in the field it tell, it did not sell well. This could have been avoided with the kind of engagement Lucas has with the AAC community. He would have been able to ascertain from professionals, caregivers and AAC users that there was not a need for such a device in the field, but what was needed, what TD’s niche could and possibly should be is users who need to use alternative access. He could have helped ascertain that perhaps physical switch ports were more important than IR, especially with consumer electronic Smart Speakers that can replace many environmental controls.  

Luckily, for us and for TobiiDynavox, about a year ago, Lucas was hired, and later promoted, including recently (which confuses us, why promote someone just to let them go?).  Lucas made it clear when he joined TobiiDynavox that AAC users would come first. When Lucas came on board, and we, as a community, got to know him, many of us were relieved. He engaged, he listened to our needs, we knew his intent, without question, was always to change the lives of AAC users by making Tobii’s products the best they could be. He was always transparent with information, and many of us decided it was worth the wait to give Lucas time to work bring Tobii back to what it was before the acquisition. We knew he was working to make AAC for all AAC users, not just the ones with fair to good fine motor skills. We knew he was working to make AAC an option for all users, not just the ones in Europe and North America. We knew he would always push to make decisions that put those who use AAC first, because he knew, as we do, that dependence should never be mistaken for loyalty. 

We implore you, TobiiDynavox, to rehire Lucas Steuber and ensure he has longevity and the freedom and support to do the good he has been doing in his position, not only because it is what is best for those who use AAC, but because it will also be best for TobiiDynavox. You need Lucas Steuber working for you and so do we.