— About this Project —
Something to say is a simple mobile website designed to be effective for getting attention and initiating conversation by nonverbal users. I designed it to be easy to use and highly device independent and portable, without sacrificing the emotive aspects of communication that are easy to lose in AAC devices.
— Background —
For people who communicate without words, getting attention when they need it can be a big challenge. This design was a little exploration for a young woman named Jackie who I observed having a difficult time drawing attention from caregivers when she needed it. For Jackie, the consequences of this could be that she didn’t get her needs met, or that she escalated in the types of behavior she used to get the attention she needed.
Often, for folks like Jackie a switch recorded with a person’s voice or a computerized voice output device might be used. When Jackie tried to use devices like this, her voice was easily drowned out or gotten used to. I was curious how Jackie could have more control over getting attention when she needed it with a more authentic and noticeable voice.
— Design —
The design has 2 options, one for drawing attention when things are all good and you just want to talk, and one for drawing attention because something is wrong. To combat the way these voices can become easy to ignore, the app cycles through a series of recordings that are very emphatic and emotive, with similar enough meanings to be interchangeable, but distinct enough to fight becoming just more boring background noise. You can try it out here. (Also, you can go ahead and use it whenever you want, from any kind of device. It has a girl’s voice, but if you want to use it with a boy’s voice get in touch and I can make a new version. If you do use it, I’d love to hear from you about how it works for you.)