New Project: communication with only audio

I wanted to share small new project with you all.

Our most successful project is The Open Voice Factory. It converts easy-to-use PowerPoint designs into communication aids that can be used by people with speech difficulties.

Like most communication aids, The Open Voice Factory is very visual and works on a grid.  This makes them potentially hard to use for people who have both speech difficulties and visual impairment.

Most makers of communication aids deal with this by adding an ‘audio scanning’ mode to their systems so that people can work out what point of the grid a ‘cursor’ is*. As I described it recently:

The program steps through a list of utterances in a female ‘thinking’ voice, and when one is selected, speaks it in a male ‘speaking’ voice (switch genders for a female target users).

When you think about it, that description doesn’t need a grid at all. In fact, the grid and much of the rest of the system just forces these users to live with the effects of design decisions made for people with very different needs.

So we’ve started work on an audio-only communication aid. It will use the same approach as The Open Voice Factory:

  • A user edits a template (Word, or an open format)
  • The template is uploaded and the website gives the user a URL
  • The user uses the URL on any internet connected device.

But we’ll remove all the parts that make things harder.

I’ve spent a few hours working out if it can be done, and the current code is here.  As always, comments, testers, and coders welcome :)

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