Wednesday, July 11, 2012

If I Were in Charge of Research and Development at an AAC Company...

  • prices would reflect what the device costs to research, develop, manufacture and distribute - not the highest price health insurance or medicaid will pay
  • every device would weight less than 4 pounds
  • a carrying handle would be integral to every design
  • every device would be durable enough for 16 hours a day of daily use every where they might be used
  • devices would automatically back up - their to the "cloud" or to an external hard drive or other computer
  • there would be a small display showing what the user is working on so the communication partner is in the know or there would be, at the very least, an LED light that signaled a message is being created and to wait
  • all devices would have hot swap batteries (kudos to the Zygo Optimist for being the first in the field and to the Tobii for using on all their C series devices)
  • all devices would have external volume controls
  • their would be a search feature to make finding and linking boards less of a chore
  • instant skype or video chat with tech support on the device 
  • front and rear video/still cameras with adjustable aim (I have more pictures of ceilings taken by my Tobii user!)
  • everything integrates with everything - compose your message and then speak, text or email it all from the same place (Dynavox does this well in the InterAACt software)
  • consistent symbol set use within communication board software (no mixed sets)
  • built in user communities where users can talk to other users while using their devices
  • a means to strip personal information from boards and board sets to be able to share them confidentially
  • AAC companies working with curriculum companies so that board sets relating to theme unit or subjects can be purchased and installed
  • integrated access to the web regardless of access method (yes, I know that is a big dream)
  • speech banking for those with progressive disorders so that early implementation can be for banking speech which is then available when needed for the user
  • high tech PODD sets (that I don't have to make myself)
  • online board/page creation and back up
  • quick printing of the board/pages on the device to make manual backups
  • integrated alternative assessment features
  • DAISY/AMIS reader (good job Dynavox)
  • integrate with Bookshare
  • glare proof screen
  • data collection and analysis on device use, access, language used, etc.
  • water resistant designs
  • usb ports, lots of them, and not in hard to reach places
  • bluetooth/SMS/MMS/E-mail/wi-fi all built in (most devices have this in the "open" version)
  • instant on and instant off features
  • media features in the communication software that allow full control over media (flip through album covers, choose songs and movies, etc)
  • plenty of memory for storing music, movies, etc


  1. Awesome list! My favorite is the "easy way to print so you can have manual backup"!!

  2. Thanks for this. Your first one is the best. They seem to forget that many of us live outside the US where insurance doesn't pay and government funding is very modest if any at all.

  3. I'm glad you all like this. It got posted by accident! I wrote this four or five months ago (and decided for some reason that escapes me now not to publish it) then after having to shut down and restart the blog it somehow got published as a new piece of writing. I didn't even remember it had been sitting in the drafts file all this time.

  4. This list is one every AAC developer should pin to their wall. Thanks for posting!

    I'd add one more: banish proprietary language software rights! ANY language access program should be able to run on ANY device, so users can get the right hardware AND software fit! This is especially (!!!!) true when eye gaze access limits hardware options.

  5. I'm working on an open source HTML5 based speech app which is free and would work on any device with a browser. I'm looking for input as to the required features/layout, etc. Hopefully corporations won't sue me as most of this shouldn't be patentable IMO ;)

    you can click to speak and turn words on and off in 'edit' mode. Requires internet right now as it uses text to speech. Issue with tts on iPad at the moment.

  6. Outstanding Points! The costs are out of control. All AAC users need access to free symbols which can be used on devices which are made affordable to everyone. No one should have to save and raise money to speak. This is something we have to work together to change. Why should people with different abilities have to pay to speak?


Comments and respectful discussion are welcome and encouraged! No advertisements or spamming.

Contact Me at:

Contact Me at:

Visit our advertisers:

Fujitsu Computer Systems Corporation, LLC Try Nick Jr. Boost FREE for 7 Days ... Label the things you love !! Build-A-Bear HearthSong - Toys Outlet