Last weekend I got to attend my first-ever conference with Assistive Technologies Institute of America, in Orlando (not far from home in Tampa!) While I didn’t attend any educational sessions, I was able to take a leisurely stroll through the expo hall to see what appeared to be the cutting edge in assistive communication today. I was impressed with the wide assortment of tools available for speech- and hearing-impaired users, as well as the professionalism and knowledge of the sales people on hand.
I saw nothing that addresses specific emotional outlet needs of that target population. When Brenda and I embarked on this project almost 3 years ago, we noted how little had changed in terms of technologies available over almost 30 years of her exploration. That lack led us to work to create a uniquely age-appropriate, emotion-based, and grammatically self-correcting tool to help our speech-challenged friends not only to express an emotion, but to explore motivations. (Not just, “I am frustrated,” but “I am frustrated because you don’t take me seriously,” for example, with just a few taps on an iPad.)
So after 3 years, our first question was answered pretty clearly: Nope, there’s nothing out there that approximates what we’re working toward. So glad we’re not re-inventing the wheel!
Now to the next big question: What is the need for our approach to AAC??
Good news: This question should be answered this weekend at our Professional Focus Group meeting at Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore.
Stay tuned for what we find out. Thanks for following us.