AACVOX: mobile application for augmentative alternative communication to help people with speech disorder and motor impairment

AbstractIntroduction: Communication is a fundamental element for the development of human beings, promoting their coexistence in society. However, changes in muscle tone, associated with cerebral palsy (CP), among other conditions, cause phono-articulatory dysfunctions hindering speech capabilities. Although there are resources for augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), most of them do not completely satisfy the needs of individuals with motor impairment. Therefore, this study proposes a tool based on mobile technology for AAC, which can be adapted to the characteristics of the motor limitations of CP users. Methods Mobile system development was conducted employing user-centered design and development methods. Functions were developed allowing the communication of phrases through pictographic resources and a mechanism of speech synthesis, that can be customized according to specific communication needs. To validate this system, 20 CP volunteers with speech difficulties and motor impairment were recruited from two institutions in the State of São Paulo, Brazil. They operated the system following a pre-defined test protocol, and they answered a system usability scale (SUS) questionnaire, to rate the ease of learning, memorization, efficiency, occurrence of runtime errors, and the level of user satisfaction. Results The results showed a score of 85.85 ± 2.28 above the average SUS scale, for each one of the quality components assessed by the volunteers. Conclusion The developed software is user-friendly, representing a new option for AAC, and is customized according to the communication needs of people with speech disorder and motor impairment.