This section lists hand held communication aids with speech output and switch input scanning selection. This means they can be used if you have a disability which results in difficulty pressing a button, key or touchscreen icon.1 & 4
They contain a number of squares which can be lit sequentially or in programmable patterns. Symbols are placed on the squares and you stop the light by activating a switch when the required symbol is illuminated - the selected message will then play. The use of switches allows access through any controllable movement of your body.2-4
They can be purchased pre-loaded with icons, but generally you can also add other icon sets or personal images such as photos. Many have touchscreen displays that allow you to change the content and layout of what appears electronically, without overlays.4
The speech output may use digitised speech, synthesised speech or both. Digitised messages are created by recording spoken words directly into the communication aid. Synthesised speech is artificial, computer-generated speech - the quality of which is far better than it used to be.1
See examples of scanning selection on the website Switch Scanning: www.switchscanning.org.uk.
Some of the product descriptions in this communication aids category include descriptions written by the ACE centre and can be viewed on the ACE centre's speechbubble website
We recommend that you always arrange a multidisciplinary assessment before purchasing any type of communication aid. This will ensure that factors such as seating, mobility, access, motivation, educational needs, cognitive levels, training and ongoing support are all taken into account.3 & 5-6
It is crucial that a backup of the vocabulary is kept somewhere safe so that it can be used in the case of system failure.5
Communication Matters support people who find communication difficult because they have little or no clear speech.1
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