Top Speech Generating Devices (SGDs) Parents Must Know About

Assistive technology plays a key role in making education accessible for students with special needs.

Students with complex communication needs and speech difficulties can benefit from speech-generating devices. These devices provide an alternative way to communicate when speech is limited or not present. SGDs are also called augmentative and alternative communication systems or devices. With multiple types of devices available, it is essential to assess the feasibility and need of the potential user depending on the severity of the problem. These devices vary in technological advancement range, from low tech single message devices to high tech devices offering high customizability and independence to people with speech impairments in communicating effectively.    

Here’s a list of top speech generating devices that parents would find useful if their child has any speech impairment.

  1. Tobii Eye-tracking

This device was introduced in 2012 at CES, an annual trade show organised by the Consumer Technology Association in the United States. The company introduced eye-tracking devices that are affordable and can be integrated with existing screens or plugged in the same way as one would use a mouse. The device is useful for people with minimal movement or significant issues with speech. Eye-tracking is a sensor technology that enables a smart device to determine what the user is looking at the gaze point. The tracker can detect the attention, presence, and focus of the user. The device facilitates a natural way of communication for people with limitations with machines and devices. This ability to control a computer using eyes is beneficial for people who cannot speak or use their hands.   

  1. Hip Talk Plus Communicator

The company has been in the field of creating assistive devices for over 30 years. Their advanced tech devices help people with disabilities participate fully in the world. Their communicator device helps people with speech disabilities by offering the following features:  

  • Users can record messages for up to 300 seconds of duration – 5 seconds of record time per message  
  • Auditory cueing allows the user to hear the message at a lower volume on the first press, followed by a message replayed on the second press at normal volume settings. This is beneficial for people with visual disabilities.    
  • Magnetic Snap-On frames for ease in icon changing  
  • Sleep mode that saves battery life  
  • Full control over volume   
  • Ability to record and re-record different messages. The user gets the option to choose from either three, six or 12 different icons to record on.  
  1. Enabling Devices Tactile Symbol Communicator

This device is a communicator that can store up to 36 messages and has six removable tactile symbols that allow the user to push a button and relay the message. The device offers six levels of communication, with six messages per level. When setting the device, the user can record every message for up to six seconds of duration. The tactile symbol feature is beneficial for people with visual impairment. The device’s utility is in conveying the message; hence it’s equally useful for people with speech impairments.   

  1. VoicePal Levels

The device offers a four-level, customisable, natural voice communication aid for speech-impaired people. The tool can get adapt to the growing skills of the user. It is portable, lightweight and offers many programming options. It can accommodate up to 10 messages and offers a total recording duration of 17.5 minutes. The recorded messages can be accessed in multiple ways, either visually or auditorily. Users can directly select the message using the on-board keypad or plugging adaptive switches into the external jacks or by scanning. User can also slip a symbol or picture overlay into the built-in pouch to customise the keypad.    

  1. GOTALK 9+

This device is known for its affordability. The GOTALK 9+ is a lightweight and durable device that offers a 45-message capacity, five recording levels, and a nine-minute recording. The device is ideal for people with speech impairments and can help them prerecord messages and communicate easily. The user simply has to press the appropriate message key corresponding with a picture. The device includes three additional core buttons for frequently used words or phrases across levels and offers sequential recording for quick set-up and re-recording.  

  1. Big Talk Assistive Technology Communicator

The device is a touch-sensitive large, colourful button. A slight touch can activate the device, and the recorded message can be conveyed. The device is made to store a single message for up to 20 seconds. Also, the device can be used as a switch to activate other devices. User can use several of these switches to create a system of communication. This is an easy to use communicator and can also be used for emergency purposes by people with various disabilities.   

  7. GoTalk Express 32 – Advanced Communication Aid

This device allows user to combine various images and form a sentence. There’s a grid of pictures that user can pick to convey their message. There are two methods for the operation: standard and express. The standard method requires the user to press a message key simply, and the device speaks the word. The user can press multiple keys in the express method and convey the message by creating a sentence. The device has a rugged design that comes with a carrying handle for ease of the user. Also, they feature LED lights for visual prompts.   

  1. FABFrenchay Alphabet Board

The alpha-numeric keyboard can be a great addition to other electronic AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) devices for emergencies. Users can choose the letters and numbers they want to create a message while the person on the receiving end looks at the keys to grasp the message. The device is pocket size and can be easily carried. Also, it features an anti-bacterial rubber base and washable keyboard protector, making it ideal for a variety of settings, including daycare facilities, schools, critical care units, etc.  

  1. Lightwriter SL40

The device comes with a dual-display screen that allows a natural, face-to-face dialogue. It is a small and easy-to-carry device that allows people with speech disabilities to communicate effectively. It facilitates a natural dialogue among listener and speaker by assisting the person with a speech impairment to type the message. The device also features a text-to-speech option when communicating is among multiple people. There’s an option to use a SIM card in the device to connect with friends and family over texting. Other key features include built-in buzzers to summon attention, a notebook feature, a built-in remote control for the television, and availability to set reminders and alarms.   

  1. Logan ProxTalker AAC Device Package

The Logan ProxTalker is one of the most advanced and adaptable recorded speech communication devices available. It uses RFID (radio frequency identification) technology to help people with speech impairment communicate effectively and be independent for their communication needs. The user simply has to place any photo, symbol, or object on a sound tag card and get a voice in no time! To get the voice output, the user has to place the sound tag on any of the five buttons and push. The device comes with 80 Pre-recorded sound tags that cover many communication messages people use in daily life. It also has 100 blank small tags that can be customised as needed. The user has the option to Choose voice output as Male or Female. Also, there is a Speak All tag which enables a sequence of tags to be played automatically. Other key features include easily adjustable volume, unique programming with no need for software or pc, an inbuilt microphone, 1GB memory (30,000 sound tags/1,000 minutes), and battery-operated functionality. 

What other devices would be beneficial for people with speech impairment? Mention it in the comments section below!

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