A WIRELESS AUGMENTATIVE AND ALTERNATIVE

COMMUNICATION SYSTEM FOR PEOPLE WITH SPEECH
DISABILITIES
Gandhiji institute of science and technology
Author: ch. bindu madhavi,ch.bindumadhavi405@gmail.com, GIST
Guide: M.manasa Lakshmi,manasalakshmiece@gmail.com Ass prof, GIST

ABSTRACT
An augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device for people with
speech disabilities is presented. This AAC system exhibits the advantages of two
currently used systems: 1) usability of the communication boards and 2)natural
oral communication of the electronic communicators. To improve comfort in use,
robustness and versatility, the system is designed as two separate blocks linked
by wireless communication via a wireless network of communication board
sheets. The communication sheets, which are the interface with the user, are
economical, simple to use, and scalable to adaptation of the number of symbols
and the vocabulary of the individuals who use the system. The digital system
(record/player system) controls the net, identifies the active sheets and the
pushed symbols, and plays and records all sounds. This digital system can be
easily replaced by other digital interfaces, such as computers, smartphones, or
tablets, and can increase the function of the AAC with the possibility of using the
Internet communication (emails and Skype ,among others).The prototype has
been evaluated in two special education schools, which are attended by children
with severe motor disabilities with or without associated disorders and multi-
deficiencies. Positive reviews from individuals who use the AAC system open the
possibility of the system’s use in both home and educational environments

1.INTRODUCTION

Statistics Canada, US, UK and Australia (ASD) Lordetal found that at 9 years old,
say that approximately 1.3% of the approximately14%-
population has complex communication 20%ofchildrendiagnosedwith ASD present
needs and cannot rely on natural speech little or no functional speech, that is, with
for communication This proportion has daily use of five or fewer words. c) The
increased in recent years. Beukelman incidence of cerebral palsy. Approximately
lists the factors that have contributed to 95% of children with cerebral palsy who
the increase in the number of individuals have speech and/or language limitations
who require an augmentative and might benefit from using an AAC . d)
alternative communication system (AAC): Finally, the increased life expectancy for
a) Improvement in the survival rates for the population has usually resulted in an
children born with developmental increased number of older adults with
disabilities . b) The increased number of language impairments, hence requiring
people with autism spectrum disorders some sort of AAC support . These factors

ASDs are neurodevelopmental disord whenever they need to make an item or ers that activity. Hornero et al.illustrate a wide variety of intellectual familiarity with new technologies . the main unusual behaviour and interests drawback of this system is that individuals who are not familiar with the pictographic system must learn the meanings of the symbols. speech/intellectual ability systems such as sign language. The first option to fulfill the requirements of an AAC system is based on communication Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) are cla boards. also referred to as the “spectr require users to change the picture um”.Therefore . Morse (advanced vocabulary or limited) or code or traditional . the use of this system is preferred in a familiar or Spelling for people with speech usual environment where an external disabilities. but the need for proximity to read all of the words raises another problem.ideas or even ciated with simple sentences . Personal use is also permitted. abilities and stages of development Currently.However. These boards consist of printed ssified as a group of conditions that vary o symbols or pictures that contain the na vocabulary that an individual needs. AAC systems based on . and/or the alphabet as well as computer-based technologies with voice and/or print outputs . This requirement limits the possibility to engage in a conversation with AAC system users or even incorporate those individuals in any conversation. an approach based on require external devices such as electronic communicators has been proposed to complement the communication boards by adding digitized . which continuum. To overcome systems include aided systems that these limitations. For this reason. words.AAC systems must be flexible pictograph boards (communication to adapt to people with different boards)with or without electronic voices characteristics such as age (elderly and are available along with other traditional children). Up-to-date commercial AAC assistant is not needed. This solution is both intuitive and cause substantial impairments in social int low cost while allowing voiceless eraction and communication and are asso communication using words .: Wireless AAC System for People With Speech Disabilities Communication boards or books of line drawings. If written words or sentences accompany the symbols. Translations and content mining are permitted for academic research only. this problem is reduced.G. but republication/redistribution requires .

The expected outcome of electronic communicator are based on a this design is to improve. people with motor problems would the users are. for the advantages of both of the approaches previously described (table 1).In this way. There has been increased interest in the use of portable media The AAC system design consists of two players and smartphones such as speech physically separated blocks the generating devices (SGD) with synthesized vocabulary communication sheets and the or digitized speech due to the increased symbol record/player. simple and low-cost AAC system that e to other people.Studies about the utility sheets organized in folders in a more of the I Pad as a alternative intuitive manner (Fig. hence. Social behaviour for individuals with ASD c In this work. the benefits offered by electronic Commercially. Considering the potential application for the iPhone. creating lower cost products that versatility and adaptability to the are often fragile or that offer little intellectual flexibility . and educational applications for the AAC.as much as system of pictographic symbols. systems consisting of an communicators. or unusual. software running on standard digital the user will have an interface similar to personal devices such as a personal the platform-based ones while retaining computer.000Symbolstix direct interaction is thus possible either symbols. communication solution generated A further benefit of this scheme is the inconclusive results For this reason. With this idea in or being ‘too social’. we designed a wireless network of respond to social symbol sheets connected to a main digital contact but not initiate interactions with ot controller that identifies the active sheets hers. 2). tablet or smartphone. Their attempts at social interaction and plays the corresponding sound of the may appear odd.the communication skills of increasing the communication quality and people. which are both portability. versatility and adaptability to the These systems use specific platforms or intellectual level of the user . possible . which results in an In this way. has received much attention with individual sheets or with groups of from the media . and disabilities can choose a combination of this architecture is therefore easier for both solutions .as showninfigure1.Such a feature retaining the benefits offered by electronic eases the intervention in conversations communicators. combines the advantages of the systems to wanting to join in but not knowing how.an AAC protocol. described in table 1. iPod that includes over 8. They may have poo r social skills and often have difficulties un . selected symbol. and reduced interaction with the player.Proloquo2Go.voice outputs. high peer acceptance and linked by a wireless communication convenience . looking these individuals to use. this new system will offer improving the user’s communication skills. the user will have an interface increased degree of sociability for people similar to the platform-based ones while with speech disabilities . we present the design of a an range from almost complete indifferenc new. people with communication not need to manipulate large objects. The expected outcome of with people who are not familiar with the this design is to improve . Some individuals will mind. depending on the environment in which hence. this new system will offer device. repetitive. iPod Touch. hence. as much as surface where symbols and an electronic possible the communication skills of voice reproducer are placed in the same people.

this size is not a restriction unwritten social rules of friendships and joi to accommodate different sizes of symbols ning in. Low cost is a desirable feature to educational applications for the AAC. the and include an electronic control and a vocabulary communication sheets and the communication system (Fig. which is not affected by external . which are both the activation of the system and the linked by a wireless communication transmission of information transparent to protocol. Each sheet can have a maximum of behaviour or an awareness of others’ feeli 60 boxes with independent messages that ngs. especially for individuals who use the system with reduced vocabulary or who need larger images. hence. make scalability (increasing the number of sheets) cheap. Different combinations of boxes can also be used to denominate free mode. the power consumption of the design must be very A. and this architecture is therefore easier for these individuals to use. direct interaction is thus possible either with individual sheets or with groups of sheets organized in folders in a more intuitive manner (Fig. Sclera Symbols or the CACE The AAC system design consists of two project . In addition. 2). These sheets are battery powered physically separated blocks.derstanding the Nevertheless. these sheets are A4 made of rigid materials and a selection sized and are transparent on one side. In false positive rejection. The sheets accept any type of symbol that represents a word. A further benefit of this scheme is the reduced interaction with the player. as happens in the majority of systems for Communication sheets (CSs) have a look medical applications]. matrix is placed on a 1-mm PCB board FR4. people with motor problems would not need to manipulate large objects. Each player can accept a maximum of 256 sheets so that the vocabulary can be set from 2 (2 symbols per sheet) to 15.2×2and2×1). Considering the potential the user. phrase or feeling and can be freely designed or selected from different II. 3) to make symbol record/player. might be grouped to form larger boxes (5×3.COMMUNICATION SHEET low to reduce the recharging needs. SYSTEM DESIGN sources such as those developed by Lessonpix . and can lack an understanding of of the communication panels printed on acceptable social paper.360 symbols (256 sheets – 60 symbols per sheet). the sheets are this first prototype. sound. To reduce the cost similar to currently used communication of production and achieve robustness and boards and similar to a paper classifier.

In the symbol pulsation. from 1. 3 mA activation control circuit and the battery consumption). the second one contains the signal is polled every 100 m s.4 GHz. SYMBOL RECORDER/PLAYER reducing the consumption as long as the SYSTEM Although any portable sleep time is much bigger than the active commercial system (smartphone. important feature with respect to the bibliography offers other less common education applications that require a solutions for digital consumption number of students working reduction. and if an pressed symbol identifier. . our design includes an Scaling (DVS) for digital consumption own-built symbol recorder/ player (SRP) reduction. While DPM reduces the overall system located within a small housing to consumption using low power modes. The these solutions have been used in the electronic system of the sheets is placed design of new AAC system. Another method commonly and the like) might perform as a sound linked to the DPM is the Dynamic Voltage player system. The active sheet player. tablet stage time. The second activation signal is application. less than 1 µA when in the dark (inactive) allowing a coverage range. to reduce digital consumption a system. 4). if the between the sheets and the player. low avoid false positives (false selection of cost and high distribution. The activation threshold. and the third active sheet is detected (programmable one indicates the battery level. for possible to have an additional energy example. In this design. the battery level is only uses three data bytes of payload from supervised every 10 minutes.the transmission (active mode. The sheet is placed below the others. saving if in the active stages the parts of Each player can handle a maximum of 256 the microcontroller not used are switched communication sheets simultaneously. 50 lux by default). the first byte is a sheet information is sent together with the identifier used for synchronization with the transmission symbol. on its left side and is composed of four the MCU works between two modes: sleep elements: the wireless communication mode (2 µA consumption) and systems the micro controller . which is enabled addition. we have chosen symbols). communication with the record/player Typically. an off. Texas Instruments) to general-purpose light-dependent resistor implement the wireless communication (LDR) that detects an active sheet. as occurs in collaborative learning optimizing preprocessing operations. All methods. A part from the previous alternatives. it is make the system easily portable. Due to its low consumption. In this situation. in this condition.5 m to 10 m. there are two activation control the Zigbee technology (CC2500 RF signals. .consisting on a sensor system remaining in different sleep times effectively B. that wireless protocol used is Simple sheet is considered inactive. To select these modes and (Fig. the selected Dynamic Power Management (DPM) is symbol generates an MCU interrupt and commonly used (wake-up methods) the transmission mode begins.factors such as dust or water. and this the 20 possible. the implemented protocol only when the LDR detects an active sheet. The first signal comes from a transceiver. as including optimal simultaneously with only one instructor’s synchronization of the communications or player. on a belt or on a wheelchair. The LDR was (proprietary protocol of Texas Instrument) chosen because its power consumption is and works in the free band of 2. In sleep mode. CC2500 is controlled by an the microcontroller starts the MSP430F2274microcontroller unit (MCU).

however. as the communication sheet will remain in observed in Fig. it establishes the wireless SD card. After successful initialization of the SRP. wireless communication. 6. optimize the battery life minimize distribution problems and cost . transmission. etc. the sheet enters into sleep similar to that of a commercial AAC mode until the user presses on the matrix system (1. check the remaining battery level. waiting to transmit a symbol .thesyst emchecksthe battery status automatically. established This system also contains a CC2500 RF transceiver for the wireless RF link and an MSP430F2274 MCU to perform all of the necessary functions (playback/record of symbols.typical lithium batteries such as those used in mobile phones or portable systems are selected. a form factor similar to that of current smartphones but thicker (104×65×24 mm) was chosen. Symbol are stored in a micro with the CS). and they are further decoded by link between the . Fig. c) The recording or the LDR activates the sheet r to of sounds can be associated with one or synchronize again with any player more symbols (depending on the selected symbols.5 W).When a link is the VS1063b monolithic audio decoder.Inparallel. network access. C. If. waiting to process any sheet request (network access. If the process has been three key differences: a) The player is successful. the SRP receivers mode group of cells). the CS also initializes its The system must have a similar structure hardware (microcontroller and wireless to a portable sound reproduction but with communication). reset the device or increase or decrease the audio volume). At the beginning. Four functions are performed: initialization.0 W to 1. symbol play or symbol record) or to handle the interface buttons (mode change. COMMUNICATION PROTOCOL The flow diagram of Fig. After five unsuccessful b) The audio power output should be attempts. 7 explains the operation of the wireless communicator.every10minutes.). To minimize the size. the system sets itself to listen mode. the sheet searches any symbol controlled by the signals coming from recorder/player in range and requests different sheets through the wireless link. symbol recording and symbol playing. sleep mode. 5 depicts the (and had been previously synchronized SRP design. Regarding the physical aspect.

Each specifications. the user message transmission) and 4) other can record the symbol. where the average values are the back on for one second to indicate that results the process has been successful. III. The user must click on the cell of the selector matrix symbols that will The power consumption of the CS has correspond to the recorded audio or.). For this purpose. Table 2 lists the most relevant recording. the player is not ELECTRICAL operative and would start the process of CHARACTERIZATION OF THE searching for a new SRP. a series low- successively on all of the cells that the value resistor has been placed in the user wishes to combine into a single output to the battery to measure the symbol. it checks the audio file and real situations and with different users and plays the requested . all LEDs of the SRP will turn results. the player makes by a digital oscilloscope (Fig. indicating that the detection. The recording SYSTEM process s tarts when the appropriate interface buttons on the recorder are 1 )CS POWER CONSUMPTION pressed. device is ready. the AAC has been used in a where the average values are the results school for people with disabilities to . The SRP receives been to evaluate the system in different the request. When the user finishes the current consumption profiles for the selection of cells. player request.An acknowledge supervisors to optimize the AAC design for (ACK) message is used in receipt of the future uses. for each new consumed current indirectly by means of symbol that is added to the selection by Ohm’s law and the voltage drop recorded clicking on that symbol. The a short beep sound to indicate correct values thus obtained are used to yield the reception. 8). 2) wireless connection with receiving any new selection cell). the SRP produces a long different operating modes: 1) system beep (after waiting two seconds without initialization. rate of communication failure. These tests are not to time the user presses on the matrix. press modes. Table 2 lists the most relevant results. power audio output. If the CS does not receive the ACK message. and all SRP. In . etc. At this moment. addition. in the been measured for different operating case of groups of fixed cells. ELECTRICAL CHARACTERIZATION AND FUNCTIONAL TEST The designed system has been characterized in the laboratory to verify compliance with technical specifications(consumption and autonomy. After the audio functions. operating range. verification of the link with SRP. The objective has corresponding symbol. In the latter case. 3) transmission (symbol pressed LEDs are activated.(matrix pressed )and checking the status assess the real usability of the system and of the LDR (every 100 ms ) or checking to validate the functional design the battery state (every 10 minutes). it perform an in-depth study of a particular sends a request message to play the application of the AAD.

modes. In addition. These low consumption during a symbol results yield a system autonomy of 17 transmission is due to the low-power hours for a typical lithium battery wireless communications . folder that is typical in an educational situation. transmission for two situations: estimated lifetime). we We have characterized the incidence have an autonomy greater than one of false negatives in symbol academic year (nine months. As observed in table 4. 2) SRP POWER CONSUMPTION The SRP a minimum autonomy of one day of use. 2) listen.4 ms. the influence of the transmission antenna alignment has been studied. we .achieving been assessed for a typical day of only an average consumption of 4. due to the battery type. and 3) other functions. We have characterized the power consumption of this system in a similar way as that made with CSs as well as for different operating of weighing the procedure conditions: 1) initialization (delay. First.000 pressed symbols µA.000 pressed symbols. Additionally. In this circumstance and with a correct alignment of the transmitting antenna and the folder metal rings. available technologies. Additionally. the device is in sheet in the network and battery sleep mode most of the time. The Experimental measurements power consumption and the activity demonstrate the low power time of the usual procedures have consumption of this design . we used a 100 DETECTION AND mAh lithium battery of providing a lifetime of 2 years and 239 days. the results are shown in table 3. the batteries must be as small and cheap as possible. TRANSMISSION OF SYMBOLS Therefore. consumptions by their execution times hardware initialization. Two factors explain this low (acceptance of the communication consumption. hence.which is of1350mAh. play and record equivalent to 2.3 operation with 2. sleep mode over one typical day of use. and the consuming only 2. monitoring every 10 minutes). Second. the worst situation occurs when the detected sheets are inside a folder (typical situation in the classroom).requiring only one daily quite standard compared to other recharge. the battery transmission from an individual sheet would not need to be changed during and transmission from a sheet in a an academic year. the time used for each transmission is 3) PROBABILITY ESTIMATION reduced to only 4. The results are shown in table 4. which is activation). In the case of OF FALSE NEGATIVES IN THE the designed prototype.4 µA.

were performed in two special If the distance is increased to 2. These repeat one press every 4. The test was communicative function and performed using a 1 kHz sinusoidal interaction with the environment are signal.5 m. This performance of the device in real result means that it is necessary to communication situations. amplifier (LM4871). age from 3 to 21 years with severe motor disabilities. 7to17yearsinage) and four supervisors. swallowing.03 for a new user as well as the % for distances down to 1 m. amplifier (LM4871). An observer took notes of the comments and opinions of the people involved in the experience at all times The user can adjust the volume. FUNCTIONAL TESTS 1) TEST PROTOCOL The prototype device was evaluated in user trials designed to assess the process of configuring the AAD device .. The evaluation consisted each of which studied a particular aspect of the configuration and usage of the AAC. seriously affected and personal autonomy at different levels (travel. stage was a 45-minute meeting between two developers of the AAC system and the two supervisors B.500 pulses. We measured the output power audio cephalic control. The users performed different sessions with the device over three weeks. with or without 4) OUTPUT AUDIO POWER We associated disorders and multi- measured the output power audio deficiency. Powers up satisfaction questionnaire was filled in to 1. Table5 summarizes the characteristics of the participants. All of the participants had previous experience in the use of AAC communication systems. functional tests of the communicator or less than one press every two days.obtained error probabilities below 0. The test was handling .2 W can be selected with by the supervisors (table 6).. The first harmonic distortions lower than 1%. a controlling the output end. Both 1 press every 430 pulses (four each school work with children ranging in day). education school in Barcelona. In all of them. and after the completion of the test.) The tests were performed performed using a 1 kHz sinusoidal with eight children (from signal. Na dis the need to repeat a press increases to school and l’A roboç school .

In ADVANTAGES AND the second stage. In the following stages. SRP). The last stage was a face-to- face meeting with supervisors in which the conclusions extracted from the In that meeting. project and the stages to follow during the test. usage 2) RESULTS OF THE scenarios and the definition of the FUNCTIONAL TESTS. Perform basic tasks such as detecting if a sheet is active or not . Cooperative use of the system with one SRP and the used CSs distributed between two students was also studied. These resources were the only instructions for operating the device during all of the tests. informal communication and b) learning new vocabulary and themes in sessions with the AAC communicator and video support in TV (Fig. Additional printed technical manuals were also provided. Usually. the use and configuration of the AAC device was performed by supervisor s and subjects with no technical over sight by the designers. an instructional LIMITATIONS OF THE video was played to describe in a simple and clear way the operation DESIGNED SYSTEM From the protocol of the entire system (CS and supervisors ’feedback in the last stage. the configuration of the templates or the process of recording a symbol. vocabulary to use were discussed. During this stage. The third stage consisted of the tests in different educational sessions. those responsible for tests and the results of the satisfaction the AAC presented the context of the questionnaires were documented. 9). The video showed how to the following conclusions can be drawn: â who are accustomed to working with children showing different disabilities and who tend to use digital systems such as tablets or laptops. individual tests were performed: a) .

mails. this network of either erase and record again a symbol communications sheets might act as a . The high the sheets into folders. notifications or the development of specific activities weather may be the main topics of the rather than as technical support used panels. reason.â Supervisors suggest the possibility of individually or delete all symbols adapting sheets simultaneously. For this teaching methods. such as direction .the possibility of several tablets or laptops. where the tablet. the design and architecture intended to laptop or mobile phone performs solve the limitations of available controls.In this products on the market. Furthermore. Additionally it should be possible to Moreover.This ability would a larger number of individuals . protection allowing months of use without battery systems. The supervisors have to panels . have been level of modularity makes it easy to suggested to provide the device with replace the player block with another more robustness.The solve a serious problem for people e separation between the processes of with disabilities such as the need to detection and reproduction of the learn to control different interfaces symbols (CS and SRP) favors them when using different devices. adapting the AAC to improved ease of use.and hanging them on the suggested the use of the AAC system wall to be used daily in the classroom. The CS is designed to be light. CONCLUSION attractive for persons with experience in these digital platforms. the possibility to connect the sheets to tablets or laptops is very IV. Skype or direct voice allowing a low production cost and communication in smartphones with thus making the system accessible to the same interface . This sheet We have presented a new AAC system wireless network. communication boards. â The feedback highlights the by a person to communicate at versatility of other commercial different times in any place . as a device dedicated to the Timetables. positive.and the wireless 1. opens the possibility to commercial systems. as opposed to the students using the system commercial communicator presented cooperatively has been valued as an that only allows augmentative and attractive novelty that allows new alternative communication. The wireless flexible. or even directly access the Internet. robust and simple with an communication feature facilitates the appearance similar to a symbols page system’s use. The electronic different educational sessions and circuit is designed to be very small and environments has been easy and with very low power consumption. as users and can be sorted into folders for an only use the CSs. odularity and scalability of the system . Our design has introduce new communication very low power consumption and is systems. Users were able to use the AAC communication increases the comfort system after a short introduction in a of use and adaptation to the very intuitive way. In some cases. â Weight and mechanical abilities of the potential manage ability are good users. The process of type of voice interface such as a phone recording and erasing should be easier. based on low cost components. such as the introduction of replacement or recharging. such as those based on e.

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