Using Speech Sounds to Construct Messages for Aided Communication



Research Stream

    • Andrea Kirton (Barnsley Assistive Technology Team)
    • Simon Judge (Barnsley Assistive Technology Team)

Funding / Sponsorship:

Research sponsored by Devices for Dignity, Sheffield.


Aided communication methods currently concentrate on symbolic methods of representation to construct messages. This paper investigates the potential for combining phonemes, represented visually as a keyboard on a touch screen, to create novel utterances.


The investigation presented consists of three strands: a theoretical analysis of the characteristics of this technique; the development of a number of prototypes using AAC software; and an evaluation of the prototypes.


The results provide a theoretical framework of characteristics relevant to this technique that warrant further investigation. Key points from the analysis include: use of phonemes as construction units may allow the freedom to create novel sounds and the full range of sounds that can be made through speech; learning stages of using a phoneme-based aid may replicate the exploratory, developmental pattern of speech from early to higher level speech skills; using a phonemic-based keyboard, which has consistent locations and is larger than a grapheme-based keyboard, may impact on output speed and ease of access; learning process and skills required to use a phoneme-based system will require different skills to those required for current communication aids.


The presentation will discuss these results and demonstrate the prototype systems developed. Attendees will be invited to explore them, discuss features and provide feedback.

Level of Session


Age Group

All Ages


Primary school
Special school