IconSpeak for the XO
by Samuel Sennott
Update New Site: http://wiki.laptop.org/go/FreeIconToSpeech
IconSpeak 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 4/3/08:
You can see that there are sign language based icons, mixed with English words. Most of the cells, or buttons, link to additional pages. Check out the “eat” page.
You can move the cursor to the cell, click it, and the word that corresponds with the icon moves to the message window at the top. You can then activate the play icon for the message window to speak.
Presently, it does automatically clear the message window when you speak a message with the play button. Yet, if you make a mistake by entering a wrong icon, you will need to backspace on the keyboard to clear the display. For those not familiar with the most popular AAC softwares, check out theseProxy-Connection: keep-alive
hots from Speaking Dynamically Pro, Dynavox, PRC’s Unity software, and the newest Tango software respectively:
Dynavox Series 5 Software (above)
PRC Unity 45 Location Overlay (above)
Blink-Twice’s Tango Software (above)
So it is very clear to see that compared to the much refined commercial softwares, the initial prototype for IconSpeak still needs some work. Also, two switch step scanning needs to be considered for this software. Using tab or the arrow keys helps you navigate, but enter, the logical key command for entry does not work. There may be another key command I did not try that works, but nonetheless switch scanning would be a welcome addition to future builds. Features like switch scanning are representative of much more for this software to be fully valuable to a broad range of users.
Whatever the drawbacks, this software shows what is possible. This software release clearly demonstrates the potential for an open source AAC software running in Python on OSX and Windows. : ) The ability to quickly add your own images, ideally from the XO’s digital camera, would make it a potentially useful AAC tool very quickly. There is much more to be discussed about this software, but as they state on the wiki page that it will be updated rapidly, so we look forward to that and following the progress. So we watch, wait, and see if we can co-participate, knowing that the most important step is the successful release of a touch screen modification for the XO. It happened for the EEE PC.