A Speech Generating Device (SGD), also known as a Voice Output Communication Aid (VOCA) is an electronic system that is used to supplement or replace speech and/or writing.  These devices can be important for people who have limited means of interacting verbally (for instance, because of Cerebral Palsy), as they allow individuals to become active participants in communication interactions.    Despite the important role that a SGD can play in supporting interpersonal communication, there are many barriers to obtaining a SGD (e.g., high cost, requisite knowledge, access to expertise, long waiting lists) and also a relatively high abandonment rate.  It has been estimated that approximately one third of people who obtain an SGD stop using it, for a variety of reasons [1,2].

Our goals are (a) to develop open-source, open-hardware SGDs, and (b) to develop supporting processes.

(a) By open-source, open-hardware SGDs, we mean publicly-shared design information about the hardware design of SGDs (e.g., component list, schematics) and the open-source software that drives the hardware.

(b) By supporting processes, we mean the instructions and training resources for instantiating, configuring, and using these devices.

In our view, component (b) is a crucial ingredient in addressing the access and use barriers to SGDs.

There are many different variants of SGDs, with different types of symbol sets and access methods (direct or indirect selection).

Objective I: to create a SGD with a small, user-configurable symbol set (up to 12 different selectables, which can be words, phrases or utterances) that uses direct selection.

Objective II: to create a SGD with arbitrarily-sized, user-configurable symbol set that uses indirect selection, in a wide variety of indirect selection schemes.



[1] Phillips, B. and Zhao, H. 1993. Predictors of assistive technology abandonment. In Assistive Technology. Taylor & Francis. 5(1): 36-45.

[2] Riemer-Reiss, M. (2000) Assistive technology discontinuance. Proceedings of Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference. California State University, Northridge.