Augmentive communication, the technology behind helping people who cannot physically speak do so, is seeing an amazing renaissance right now, and it’s all thanks to the iPad and iPhone.
In the past, DynaVoxes were the go-to piece of equipment most people with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Stroke, Traumatic Brain Injury, Parkinson’s and other disabilities turned to. This little piece of equipment had the market cornered.
Before the iPad, the DynaVox was all people had to enable them to speak if they couldn’t on their own. You would hit a button with either your finger or a laser pointer pointed at the box as it sat on a lap tray, and it would say whatever word the button represented. This little machine costs upwards of $10,000 too. Oh, you can bet the folks at DynaVox enjoyed their run.
But now, thanks to the iPad and iPhone, and more importantly the development of AAC apps (Augmentive communication apps for the iPhone and iPad), the ‘ol DynaVox have seen its last overpriced day. From the developers at MyVoice, 20-something college students who received a $50,000 grant to create them and represent an AAC app company based in Ontario, Canada, they’ve created the app, TalkRocket Go, the iPad-version of the DynaVox that is a million times better and costs a fraction of the price. Love that, and gotta love tech-related coups.
TalkRocket Go is one smart cookie. It works in a much more seamless way than a DynaVox, combining high contrast text with vivid, personalized features. You can also edit your most commonly used phrases in seconds, which was not possible on the DynaVox. No programming is required with AAC apps.
Also, TalkRocket Go has built-in capabilities to interact with special hardware if the user has limited mobility. If you don’t have much movement, the app can be used simply by activating the screen with an entire arm. It also can be modified to work with a very light touch.
At $99.00, this app is definitely more expensive than the average app, but AAC apps are worth every penny as a lot of development goes into each one. That price, combined with the price of an iPad, which is around $199, is still much cheaper than a DynaVox.
And MyVoice has reated another helpful AAC app – RocketKeys - a completely customizable keyboard app that’s just the thing for the verbose individual who hates being limited to phrases and photos, allowing you to quickly communicate using their slick, responsive keyboard.
Those with communication disabilities are some tough cookies. I can’t imagine being limited to a DynaVox for so many years. BIG clunky, definitely not approachable; so unlike the iPad, which is great for disabled kids trying to make friends too. Thank God for this low-cost, portable technology. It really is immensely helping people with disabilities. I can’t wait to see which technology improves the lives of the disabled next.
Have you tried TalkRocket Go? Which apps have made your life easier?
- Check it out: MyVoice AAC apps
- Read the backstory of MyVoice from CBC News: App gives voice to people with disabilities