The TalkMake Workshop: Make Your Own TalkBox

Workshop Description

TalkBox is a low-cost Speech Generating Device (SGD). A SGD is a device that helps individuals communicate and/or engage in social interactions. SGDs can be useful to individuals who are non-verbal or functionally non-verbal and their interaction partners. TalkBox allows its user to activate a pre-recorded spoken word or phrase by a simple touch of the finger. Up to 12 different pre-recorded vocabulary items (spoken words or phrases) can chosen, and the set of vocabulary items can be customized for each particular user.

This workshop will guide participants through the steps needed to construct and set up their own TalkBox units.

Time and Place:

Sunday, Nov 23, 2014, *new time 1pm-3pm (slightly changed from 12:30-2:30pm)
Toronto Reference Library
789 Yonge Street
The workshop is one of several workshops that are being held as part of the Toronto Mini Maker Faire


For accepted participants, there is no fee. The cost of the required kit of parts will be covered by the Tetra Society of North America.


Participants are invited to apply for a spot in the TalkMake Workshop, where you can build your own TalkBox device.
We have designed the workshop so that participants register as a team. Each team must consist of:

  • a child or young adult who is the potential TalkBox user. See below for the criteria.
  • one or more “partners”, such as a parent, guardian, sibling, personal support worker, nurse, or special education teacher. The team partners should be frequent communication partners with the individual who will use the TalkBox.

No prior making experience required; we will support and guide you to whatever degree is needed. The child or young adult who is the potential TalkBox user will be facilitated to participate in a form that is individually tailored. Our goal is to accommodate, to the greatest degree possible, sensory/perceptual, motor, linguistic and cognitive differences. Participation can involve tasks other than motor/physical tasks, such as collaborating in design decision making, such as the choice of vocabulary items and the layout of the buttons.

Criteria for a potential TalkBox user:

A potential TalkBox user is typically an individual who:

  • is non-verbal or functionally non-verbal. Our prior experience has been with young adults on the autism spectrum and young adults with severe motor impairment and dysarthria. Other individuals could potentially derive value from a TalkBox; please discuss with the workshop organizers.
  • would benefit from being able to access a small vocabulary of 6-12 spoken items.
  • may already be identified as a potential candidate for an AAC device (via one of the various Assistive Device Programs), but, for various possible reasons, hasn’t yet obtained the device (e.g., is on a waiting for assessment or for the device itself).
  • may already have a sophisticated, commercial AAC device (e.g., Dynavox, Prentke Romich’s Eco2, Vanguard, etc), but does not use the device (for various reasons).

The workshop venue is fully accessible. Each user will have his or her own set of needs, which should be discussed with the workshop organizers in advance. A low-stimuli room is adjecent to the workshop space and is available for use by the workshop participants.

How to Apply:

Please complete the on-line “Request For Assistance” (RFA) form that is described on the website of Tetra Society of North America: [here]


  • for the purposes of the RFA form, the “client” in the child/young adult who is the potential TalkBox user
  • under “Chapter”, select “York University, ON”
  • under “Name of OT/PT making this referral”, please indicate “TalkBox Workshop”. You can leave the remaining fields in the “Referral Information” section blank.
  • If you require any assistance with completing the form, please contact Ray Feraday (

Once you submit the form, you will receive a response within 48 hours.

The workshop can accommodate 7 participant teams. If all the workshop spaces are filled, you can request to be placed on our waiting list for a future workshop session.