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Peer to Peer On-line Communication for Users with Complex Communication Needs

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Whether through physical or mental impairment, a person may not be able to articulate her intent or emotion through the usual verbal or written means. They need an assistive communication pathway. This paper concerns a class of non-spelling based devices prevalent in the market, where the user points to pictograms to convey emotion or communicate wants. There is a gamut of input methods, from simple single pictograms (non compositional) to more involved schemes where the execution of diagram sequences forms speech sentences (compositional). Traditionally, the program or application is a personal computer program or constructed as dedicated hardware device. In recent years, suppliers have levered the use of tablets to host their application. The effectiveness of such communication devices (whether it is software only or hardware-specific) has been studied and documented.

Available applications, however, provide only one-way communication, that is, from the user to her interlocutor in the immediate vicinity. Their use is time and geography bound. We introduce a two-way communication platform which enables a user to emit messages, both locally and over the internet. Moreover, the user is able to receive text or voice messages from her remote interlocutor, who uses a custom app. This innovative system creates a social network that centers on the user with impairment and enables the user to interact with her peers beyond the immediate vicinity.

Author(s):

Yih Lerh Huang    
Ability Spectrum
Canada

Jan Willem Kolkman    
Ability Spectrum
Netherlands

 

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