Children who have certain types of learning disabilities may be non-verbal. This can happen with kids who have an autism spectrum disorder. Recently, schools have started using iPads to help students with autism communicate. Now, Proloquo2Go will let them “talk” in a child’s voice.
The iPad is an amazing piece of technology. The versatility of it allows it to be used as anything from a way for a person to check his email, to a tool that can assist children who have special needs to cope, communicate, and practice social skills. Schools have started using iPads with the students who are enrolled in the Special Education programs as a result.
People have created apps that are designed to be used as tools for for kids who have autism spectrum disorders. Sometimes, it is the parents of a child who has an autism spectrum disorder who have designed a helpful app. Some apps, like iPrompt is a digital form of the laminated cards that are used in schools to help a child understand what will happen next in the day. AutismTrack helps parents keep track of all the information about their child’s behavior, therapy, medication, and more.
Proloquo2Go is an app that can be used on the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. It is designed to help people who are non-verbal, who cannot speak, or who have speech impairments to communicate. To use the app, a person taps on an icon or word. The app then “speaks” the word or phrase for the person. The app is created by a company called Assistiveware.
About 60% of the people who use the app are children who are 12 years old or younger. However, the voice that the app “speaks” in was that of an adult. The creators of Proloquo2Go realized that this could be a problem.
Kids who require an assistive device in order to communicate tend to stand out. It can be a little unexpected for a child to meet a new friend that talks through his iPad instead of through his mouth. The designers of the app thought that it hearing an adult sounding voice, while seeing a child, could be jarring. People, adults and kids alike, could end up focusing on the sound of the speech, instead of what was said.
So, Assistiveware spent a great deal of time and effort to record children’s voices for the Proloquo2Go app. People who have already purchased the app got an automatic update to add two American children’s voices, (one boy and one girl), when they were ready. British children’s voices were added in June of 2012. The company is interested in recording children’s voices in Spanish and French for the app in the future.
Image by Tatsuo Yamashita on Flickr