Martin Berka
PROJECT: Sharlene Speaks

assistive : technology : autism : speech : customizable : visual :

About the project:
Development of a customizable assistive communication device that plays sounds uploaded from a PC when customizable buttons are pressed, and logs use to allow review of progress.

The Problem:
Some children with Autism Spectrum Disorder think visually, and struggle to express needs and feelings verbally. This makes communication and group environments challenging for them. Existing assistive devices are proprietary, with affordable options offering little customization and no ability to log use for review by caregivers. Smartphones are fragile and distracting, especially for young children.

The Solution:
We are creating a durable device with ~10 large picture buttons. When a button is pressed, a speaker will play a pre-recorded word or phrase, and the use will be recorded to allow parents and educators to track communication progress. One button allows playing of longer segments such as music. Pictures and sounds will be customizable so that the device remains useful as the user progresses, with a PC-side program allowing uploading of sounds to and downloading of logs from the device.