Using mainstream devices for communication

KEYCOMM newsletter Spring 2011

It’s an exciting time for those who use Augmentative Alternative Communication.  Mainstream handheld devices such as the iPhone, iPod touch and the iPad can provide a voice through the use of  communication apps.  Keycomm’s Spring newsletter has some useful information on what apps are available and what skills are required to use the hardware.  If you would like to have a pupil assessed for their suitability for using such a device for communication, contact Deborah Jans at Keycomm on 0131 311 7130 (deborah.jans@ea.edin.sch.uk)

Have a look at this video clip on Proloquo2go, the most comprehensive (and most expensive) communication app. Please note Mr. Jobs….Scottish AAC users need their own voice!

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/BD_1sdNEwfg?rel=0" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Free audio books for pupils with additional support needs

Calibre audio library provides a free service of books (downloadable MP3 or cassette format) for any pupil who has a disability which affects their reading (e.g. dyslexia).    Schools can find out more and apply for membership on the website www.calibre.org.uk  This is a fantastic resource that should not be missed!

Which male voice is best?

For a young person using a communication aid, the quality and sound of a computer generated voice is very important.  The ‘Heather’ female voice was developed successfully and was popular for its authentic Scottish accent and tone.  But there was never a suitable male equivalent voice.

After much petitioning and campaigning to address this inequality, Scottish Government have awarded CALL Scotland funding to work with Cereproc to develop a male Scottish Voice, a ‘brother’ for the Heather voice. 

Other purposes for computer generated voice output are:

  • reading  of SQA digital exam papers
  • reading back text composed in Word with WordTalk
  • reading digital books and other materials

CALL Scotland have ‘audition’ pieces from six actors, any one of whom could provide the voice that will be used on computers in schools, colleges and other centres throughout Scotland. They are asking for your help to decide the ‘best’ voice, from which the computer voice will be created.

CALL  have set up a PDF with samples of the voices which you can download from: http://www.thescottishvoice.org.uk/Brother-for-Heather/Assets/Downloads/form.pdf

 Open the PDF with Adobe Reader and then you can click on the different samples to hear the voice. If you want to hear a sample twice, zoom in a bit because the ‘Play’ button is a bit tiny.  Once you have completed the form you can email your comments, and most importantly, score the voices in order of preference to Paul.Nisbet@ed.ac.uk 

Your help is much appreciated.