MozhiA communication app for people facing spasticity and other speech related challengesPeople suffering from spasticity and other speech related challenges, are often significantly impaired from being able to communicate with others verbally. Most methods devised to help them communicate, require great effort on the part of the speech impaired person, and therefore greatly restricts them. This app takes into account the limitations faced by people with spasticity and other speech disorders and helps them communicate easily verbally.The app reduces the burden of communication on the speech impaired person, and makes communication a shared activity. It uses the idea that for verbal communication, it is sufficient if words are stated approximately.The philosophy behind the app and its functioning is that during verbal communication both the 'speaker' as well as the 'listener' participate in the communication process. It is this participation on the part of both parties that enables people with different accents and people with lesser command over the language, to communicate with others. Therefore the app works on the principle that it is sufficient to say words approximately - that there is no need for great accuracy in pronunciation as a prerequisite for verbal communication.The app uses a limited set of sounds, using which most words can be stated to a reasonable approximation. Using a list of commonly used word in English, it was found that most words can be stated to a fair degree of approximation using just a few sounds from a list of 16 sounds.Since the app is based on the sound produced, and is not linked to any specific alphabet, the device can be used to communicate in any language. In addition, these sounds can be recorded using any person's voice and therefore the user can speak with the chosen person's voice - more specifically, if the user can produce even uncoordinated sound, the sound can be recorded and the specific segments of the sound isolated that correspond to the selected set of sounds. Using these sounds, recorded from the user's voice, it will be possible to enable a person affected with spasticity to speak in their own voice!In addition to the sounds, a shortlist of most commonly used words have also been identified, and these can be used by the users as necessary, to enable faster communication.The app has presently been developed and demonstrated using android operating system on smartphones and also using flash on a computer. However it is not restricted to these platforms and can be developed in a wide variety of platforms. The smartphone also makes it easy to transfer and share the communication app very easily between various users and potential users.In the present version, the screen of the application on the smartphone, shows touch buttons of the selected set of 16 sounds, which includes 11 'consonant' sounds and 5 vowels. The consonant and vowel combinations can be combined to create new sounds. For example 'Ha' followed be 'E' will give the 'He' sound. The user selects the sounds desired by touching them. A 'Speak' button enables the same to be played on the speaker of the phone. 'Delete' removes incorrect entries, and clear (x) clears all of the entries. A 'Space' button enables separation of words and adds flexibility to the usage. A separate screen, which can be reached by swiping the original screen, lists 12 commonly used words in Tamil for direct play, based on direct touch based selection of the words. A similar screen is also available for English words. These commonly used words can be custom selected for each user, or a database can be built based on usage, in any language, as a separate development process.The smartphone can paired with a Bluetooth, or a wired speaker to improve/increase the volume of the speech. The device can be easily modified to change the manner in which the sounds are presented as well the sounds themselves, based on user feedback.
Operating System Android