TalkRocket Go, the product of Canadian based company MyVoice, is an innovative mobile application for i-Pads and i-Phones that utilize voice synthesis technology to allow verbal communication for people with autism and brain injuries.
Some of the app’s unique features include: “locabularies”–location (GPS) based phrases—and an interactive “support studio” that enables family members or teachers to pre-program and add phrases as needed via Wi-Fi.
We chatted with MyVoice community director Tony Gross—who is a parent of a special needs child himself—to hear more about how the app can help travelers with autism.
How did your company come up with the product?
TalkRocket Go was inspired by a lack of affordable speech aid options with personal and age-appropriate customization.
TRG harnesses GPS technology to create “location aware” vocabularies as well as enabling family members and therapists to program it remotely from any computer.
TalkRocket Go is the most accessible AAC application for physical disabilities and is used by thousands of people worldwide (both in English and in French) in all age groups (with our largest group being individuals with autism.)
What are the benefits of using TalkRocket Go for travelers with special needs?.
‘TalkRocket Go’ can be used to express basic or complex needs, make choices, and even engage in meaningful conversation.The result is inclusion in all aspects of life from education to employment to travel.
With the right tools and preparation, there is no reason families shouldn’t travel with family members with autism.
The behaviors and unforeseen circumstances most parents fear, usually stem from an inability to express oneself or cope with a situation the special -needs person feels outside their control. The app provides a voice for individuals with autism to self-advocate and to develop a greater sense of independence.
Furthermore, its vocabulary can be customized to include the person’s particular trip details such as itinerary, various addresses and phone numbers, favorite foods, and how to communicate in an emergency (or if lost).
Additionally, actual (personal or online) photos of airports, hotels or attractions can be added to the personal profile to help the special needs traveler identify the places he or she will be visiting.
Going through airports checks can be stressful for people with autism. How can the app help?
Details are important to those with autism so having every step of a trip documented, from taxi rides, check in at terminals, security, and customs, to in-flight experiences and what to do when things go wrong can be incredibly reassuring for travelers with autism.
The ease of programming on an i-Phone or i-Pad allows for the addition of digital pictures and new words in real time over Wi-Fi to address any unforeseen events.
How can the app help with travel?
All they would need to do is pre-program details and photos of the person’s destination, home address, family or friends’ phone numbers, and phrases to ask for help.
The location awareness feature (GPS) of the i-Phone or i-Pad device can assist the travelers to navigate while TalkRocket Go’s ‘locabularies’ can offer words related to closest places. For example, while near or at your hotel, a folder of “hotel” words like a room, key, and passport will appear at the top of a list.
Can parents use the app to create social stories for traveling kids?
With the application, every picture with words can become a full-screen image.
One can tap to speak or swipe through like a digital book (which is easy, especially for younger kids).
What sets your product apart from your competitors?
Every feature of TalkRocket Go pioneered something new or more sophisticated than other alternatives.
Introducing the use of any images, ‘locabularies’, and an appearance tailored to young, teenage, or adult users are the top features.
The online studio lets any supporter add content from anywhere that syncs instantly with a user’s device and is automatically backed up. This “cloud” design can also let you access your words across multiple different devices, whether it is an i-Pad in one setting, an i-Pod for portability in another, or even on a parent’s i-Phone as a reassuring backup. It’s sophisticated, easy to use and not technologically intimidating to families.
“Rachael Gross, age 17, lives with CP as a result of an acquired brain injury that happened while traveling around the world at age 5.
Despite many challenges, Rachael, and her family have resumed their travels; visiting Florida twice and Paris once. Their next destination will be New York City and hopefully a return visit to Paris, their all-time favorite.” Rachael already has her French TalkRocket Go AAC app ready to go.