Any form of speech difficulty should not be a hindrance to your child’s development. Keeping this concept in mind, a collaborative team from IIT Bombay and IDC School of Design has developed a new Android application to help children with speech disabilities learn and communicate using images. The idea, which originated in a student’s project in 2004, evolved to become an app that smartphone users can use.
The app, known as “Jellow Communicator”, can be used by children with cerebral palsy, autism spectrum disorders, Down syndrome, and even brain injuries.
The development of the app
It was Sudha Srinivasan, a post-doctoral fellow at IDC, who conducted research on 30 children with speech difficulties and also spoke to a therapist. With substantial analysis, they decided to make an app where data is easily available and icons are recognisable for the children. After nine months of testing, they came up with nine main categories of icons on the home page and over 800 sub-categories of icons.
For the last two years, a group of therapists, graphic designers, software programmers, and animators at the IDC School of Design worked extensively to develop this app. The Jellow Communicator has six main buttons — like, dislike, want, don’t want, more, and less. The app has an extensive vocabulary which makes it easier for a child with speech difficulty to communicate. To avoid error, the app also repeats out loud whatever is typed into it.
The best part about the app is that it can work offline. It can be downloaded for mobiles and tablets free of cost and users can even switch languages between English and Hindi.
There are several augmentative and alternative communication apps available on Google Play store, but Jellow Communicator is a first-of-its-kind app as it is specially designed keeping Indian users in mind, matching with the country’s socio-cultural practices.
“For instance, other apps might have things like waffles and pancakes in food items,” says Dr. Sudha Srinivasan, one of the researchers to The Indian Express. “But what we eat here is dal, chawal, khichdi and so on. So, we are concentrating on creating content on the app that Indian kids with such disabilities can relate to.”
The development of Jellow Communicator was supported by Microsoft Design Expo and the e-Kalpa project sponsored by National Mission on Education through ICT by Ministry of Human Resource Development.
The Logical Indian commends and congratulates the team for creating this app for children with special speech needs.