AAC, AT, Families, Inclusion, Literacy, UDL

The OLPC Computer as an AAC Device

by Samuel Sennott

Individuals with autism or other developmental disabilities, may be able to use Speak, the open source software available for the OLPC XO laptop, as an augmentative communication tool to help meet their daily communication needs. The basic function of this application or activity as it is called in the OLPC world, is that you type, press enter, and it speaks.

OLPC Speak

Look for a video podcast on this topic soon!


March 31, 2008 - Posted by | AAC, OLPC, Special Education, xo


  1. I am interested in the XO’s potential to be employed as an assistive technology device for disabled users. I got a note from a fellow XO user yesterday about a new activity, currently in prototype, called IconSpeak.

    From the OLPC wiki page:

    “This bundle Image:IconSpeak.activity-1.xo is an initial prototype of the OLPCIconSpeak.activity. Caution: It is likely to undergo rapid and radical change.The activity is based on Speak. The goal is to allow the user to build a message from an array of icons representing words. The message is then spoken using speech synthesis.

    The user of this activity clicks on a button in an array. A button may have an image (icon) or label (text). If the button corresponds to a category, they are replaced by the icons/text from the next level down. In this case the first icon will be an up-arrow. Clicking on this icon will return the user to the previous level. If the button is corresponds to a word – the word is copied to the output message. The word corresponding to a higher level can be selected by pressing the space bar while the mouse left button is down; otherwise, the next lower level will be displayed. Finally, the user can press the ‘play’ button and the message will be spoken by eSpeak.”

    Comment by Donna | April 3, 2008 | Reply

  2. Donna,

    Niiiiccceeee! It is happening! Do you have contact info for the development team?


    Comment by alltogether | April 3, 2008 | Reply

  3. […] is the first attempts at a dynamic display augmentative communication software for the XO laptop. Recently, I posted about Speak, which IconSpeak is built on. Check out the main screen, as of Thursday […]

    Pingback by IconSpeak for the XO « Alltogether | April 3, 2008 | Reply

  4. Article about Speak on the OLPC News Site.

    Comment by alltogether | April 12, 2008 | Reply

  5. Hi.

    I am a school psychologist and computer student. Many of the students I work with have autism spectrum disorders. Many do not have the manual dexterity needed to type, and some do not know the alphabet yet to type.

    The new version of the OLPC will support touch-screen interaction, which would be ideal for IconSpeak.

    I’d be interested in contacting others who would be interested in working on this application.


    Comment by Lynn Marentette | June 19, 2008 | Reply

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