Monday, January 4, 2010

For Autistic Children: Graphical Communication Tool for iPod touch and iPhone

A couple times a month I would run into the mom of an autistic boy. She and I would be visiting the same place, and she would have her kids in tow. Verbally, “B” is on the extreme end of the spectrum, and uses an AAC (augmentative and alternative communication) device for speech. It is a Voice Output Communication Aid that utilizes a system similar to the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) as an alternative to speech that can identify wants and needs.

I did learn however that these devices can cost upwards of $7,000 to $10,000 dollars. With the insurance coverage for autism sporadic from state to state at this time, for many parents that can be an insurmountable cost. Yet anyone living with a loved one who is even moderately affected by autism knows that much of the frustration lies in not being able to communicate with them. Many rely on PECS cards and American Sign Language as an alternative, but there are parents and caregivers who want nothing more than to be able to “hear” their loved one’s thoughts.

Spectrum Visions presents Voice4U, an AAC application developed for use with iPod touch and iPhone. Voice4U is a $29.99 alternative to the larger, more expensive speech generating devices and comes pre-loaded with 130 icons: just touch the picture and the app sounds out the associated word. The user can access nine categories, with a response that is in a clear, easy-to-listen-to voice.

With the assistance of her son’s tutor, the app was created by the mother of a 15-year-old boy with autism. She built the system to be expandable, with the capability of adding up to 1,000 of the user’s own words and pictures. Additionally, you can change the icons and voices with your own photos and sounds as well, in both Japanese and English. Voice4U is mainly intended for school-age users, though it can serve consumers of all ages

Spectrum Visions Website
Voice4U Website
See the app in action on YouTube

1 comment:

Fairlington Blade said...

Hey there,

I haven't commented in awhile, mainly as I really need to keep better track of blogs that I appreciate. The arrival of our iPad has been an eye opener.

Secondo, who is autistic, did not "get" the idea of a computer interface. His twin brother Primo, on the other hand, is totally a computer guy. However, when the iPad arrived, Secondo took to it like a fish to water. So, I'm very hopeful for the arrival of tools for autistic kids.