One Simple, Game-Changing AAC Idea for Forward Thinking Friday

Updated: Jan 11

Happy Forward Thinking Friday! "Forward" is the state motto for Wisconsin which is an excellent maxim. One word, simple yet powerful in meaning. The goal is to begin discussions which have future impacts for individuals with disabilities and communications disorders including those who use Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) and Speech Generating Devices (SGD).

One Simple, Effective AAC Development Idea

  1. Auto-Generating messages on a Speech Generating Device based on speech recognition input from a communication partner.


How it works

A communication partner says a common phrase, for example, “How are you?” The device uses speech recognition to pre-populate phrases based on this input – for example – a page automatically pops up on the screen with frequent responses like … “I’m fine, how are you?” “Not too well, let me tell you why …” and of course, have an option to close the window or indicate the phrase is not on the pop-up screen - “Thanks for asking, let me find my response.”

Why it will work

This is a natural progression for SGD devices as technology already exists to support it, and it is a simple yet powerful way to increase rate of communication. I have discussed it with several SGD and AAC companies and colleagues. I hope sharing it publicly will help move the idea Forward.


Mostly reliable speech recognition already exists in our everyday lives. Text software on many platforms is already programmed to learn our frequently used words. Gmail and others complete our thoughts as we type and compose new messages. Siri, Alexa and other AI sources can have conversations with us. It’s time to move forward with these technologies to support effective communication for SGD users.


There are potential limitations so it is important the concept is field tested to debug and improve. One challenge could be interpreting the speech of one specific communication partner at a time – particularly in crowded or noisy places. Here are three possible solutions for improved speech recognition:

  • An App the communication partner speaks into which syncs with the SGD

  • A speech recognition and privacy system like the Stenomask by TalkTechnologies (https://talktech.com/)

  • A specialized clip-on microphone worn by the communication partner(s)

The Rationale

One challenge frequently shared by individuals who use SGDs is the ability to quickly respond to questions during a conversation or to quickly add to an ongoing conversation. One criteria a speech-language pathologist needs to address while helping a client match their specific needs to an SGD is an area called rate of communication and Spontaneous Novel Utterance Generation. Please visit the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) to learn more about effective communication and Spontaneous Novel Utterance Generation (SNUG): https://bit.ly/37VnEFj.


What do you think?

If you’re an AAC / SGD user, could this speed up communication in real-time situations? Is it something you would try?


Disclaimer I have no financial relationship to any of the companies mentioned in this post.

#speechrecognition #ForwardFridays #technology #communication #slpeeps #SGD #AAC #AT

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