iPad App, TouchChat, Serves as Augmentative Communication Device

TouchChat is a full-feature application for the iPod and iPad. It turns your Apple product into an augmentative communication tool, a device that uses visual images to represent words so people who can’t speak have a way to communicate.

Augmentative Communication devices use simple pictures to illustrate words or phrases the user would like to say. The screen is a grid of squares with a different word or phrase in each square. For example, a square with two people shaking hands represents the phrase “to meet you.” After selecting a button, the phrase is written at the top of the screen so the user can read what he or she has said. Words, phrases and messages are spoken by a voiceover.

The user can also navigate through page sets to find the word or phrase they would like to communicate. Page sets are linked pages. This means they are pages that list words in the grid that are typically phased together. For example, after selecting the “I want” button and touching the arrow that leads to the next page, the user may find words like “food,” “help,” “a drink” and other words that logically fit after the phrase “I want”. A video demonstration is available on TouchChat’s website.

The user has the opportunity to personalize this device to meet individual needs. The application is programmed with numerous blank squares, so the user can add words or phrases that they will use often. The user can also choose one of five voiceover tones to enhance the device to meet personal needs. The squares can even be programmed to be different colors to make words easier to remember. The TouchChat also has a feature that allows the user to tilt the device. When tilting the device, the written words will fill the entire screen for easier reading. Augmentative communication devices that aren’t digital don’t have a feature like this.  

Silver Kite is the creator of the TouchChat. Silver Kite produces assistive and adaptive technology products and has a mission to allow people with disabilities to enjoy and live life to the fullest. Silver Kite specializes in communication devices and numerous resources can be found on their website.

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