Speech Button helps individuals with verbal disabilities
A young toddler nearing the age of three is getting ready for his birthday party. The mother is preparing the food and activities for the children that will be coming over. However, thinking of games to play proves to be difficult, because although he’s reached the young age of three, her son has yet to start talking.
A study by the Speech and Stuttering Institute of Canada shows that one in every 10 children in the country has some level of speech and language difficulties.
In an attempt to help with this issue, Nancy Clarke-Shippam, a speech-language pathologist, and Carole Conyer, a school psychologist from Winnipeg, have created an app to provide assistance for children who are having problems with verbal communication.
Photo by: Dave Howard
The two teamed up with Calgary-based companies to create their app, called “Speech Button.” The Calgarians involved are Dave Howard of ToMarket and app developing company RandomType.
“Speech Button” was made with children in mind but can also be used by adults who have speech and language difficulties. The app provides assistance for users when communicating basic wants and needs.
“We found that there was nothing that meets the needs in what we wanted to address in terms of helping our students communicate,” says Clarke-Shippam. “So we took the chance to fill the void in the market.”
Gavin Miller of RandomType helped create the iOS version of “Speech Button.”
Other communication tools similar to “Speech Button” can range from $100-$300.
With affordability in mind, Miller and his team ensured that the $7.99 app was also versatile, and of the same quality as the more expensive apps, says Miller.
With 25-years of experience in the field between Clarke-Shippam and Conyer, they were able to provide the necessary information that would be most effective for users.
“Just because people are non-verbal doesn’t mean they are not intelligent. We just need to build for that intelligence.” –Dave Howard
Unlike most apps that emphasize swiping on an iPod or iPad, “Speech Button” abandons that feature.
“We needed the app to have ‘calm’ colors, not too many ‘bells and whistles’ and clear vocal qualities,” says Clarke-Shippam. “The navigation bars on the side are easier to use than the typical swiping action.”
Calgarian Howard helped designed the basic model of “Speech Button” on Adobe for testing purposes before handing it to Miller and his team at RandomType to create the iOS verison.
Howard says even though the app is still in its infancy stage, he sees the need that people have for an app like “Speech Button.”
Howard noted that by the fourth week on the market, the apps already had 30,000 downloads.
“The goal from here is to expand and take this to create a Spanish version,” said Howard.
“Speech Button” has four levels of communication. The first level is the basic level that consists of “yes” and “no” replies. The words are coupled with an icon to help users identify its meaning. As users progress through the levels they are aided to learn more words and phrases.
“They first learn the icon by pressing and hearing that sound, ” says Howard. “And then they go on to understanding and memorizing the icon.”
“Just because people are non-verbal doesn’t mean they are not intelligent,” says Howard. “We just need to build for that intelligence.”