A speech generating device for kids with autism.

Similar projects worth following
Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Device for individuals with speech/language delay. Touch an icon on the screen to generate a spoken word.

The challenge: Many kids with autism have difficulty using spoken language to communicate. High tech assistive devices are available but they can be very expensive.

How this project addresses the problem: Making available a low-cost, open source version of the high-tech speech generating devices used in speech therapy for children with autism.

This project might be world changing: When I bought a speech generating device for my son, the sticker price was over $6,000 USD. It was difficult for us to acquire this expensive piece of medical equipment and required the generosity and help of many people to make it possible. Even though we now have the device, we do not take it everywhere because of concern of possible breakage or loss. Imagine a world where every child with language delay had a portable speech generating device that was inexpensive enough to be treated like toy! These devices would also be based on open source designs, so parents and autistic individuals themselves could repair or customize their device!

Use of this device consists of

  1. Touch screen
  2. Swipe to see next icon
  3. Press icon
  4. Hear spoken word

Touchscreen Options

I considered both resistive and capacitive touchscreen options for this project. According to the articles I read about this comparison, design considerations for capacative touch include: power consumption, noise reduction, and gesture recognition. I also had concerns about what libraries were available to use with a capactitive touchscreen.

The advantages of choosing a resistive touchscreen were: lower cost, 10 years of documentation, and that it dictates simplicity of user experience. The disadvantages of a resistive touchscreen were: possible loss of swipe, possibly requiring a stylus, and possibly frustrating for kids.

After much thought I have decided to proceed with a resistive touchscreen for this initial version of the prototype.

Possible implementations

I considered several platforms for this project including: Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Android Tablet, iOS app, web application, and single page application (SPA).

I am still intruiged by the idea of creating an Arduino version of this device someday because this implementation would be the most like a toy.

Also, so many people have suggested this project would be a good app that I am considering pursuing that in the future also.

For this initial version of the prototype I am choosing to move forward with the Raspberry Pi platform. The main reason I am making this decision is because of the option of a web interface and the option of expanded harddrive space for media files.


A three-year plan for taking "Talker" from prototype to mass market. Based on the lean start up business plan model from the Small Business Administration (SBA). Includes profit-and-loss projections for the first three years of operation, but does not include cash flow, balance sheet, or break even analysis.

Adobe Portable Document Format - 136.29 kB - 08/15/2017 at 03:19


  • 1 × raspberry pi 2, model B Used according to rapberry pi terms of use.
  • 1 × micro sd card (to install Raspbian Jessie on the Pi)
  • 1 × Touchscreen wave share spot pear 3.5" LCD(A)
  • 1 × HDMI cable to connect the Pi with a monitor while installing the touchscreen drivers.
  • 1 × USB to micro USB cable to power the pi until I get a battery pack figured out.

View all 13 components

View all 16 project logs

  • 1
    Step 1

    In step one you are going to download the operating system "Raspbian Jessie" and install it onto the Raspberry Pi. The download link is here, . You will need to unzip the download and copy it onto a micro SD card. You will insert this micro SD card into the slot on the Raspberry Pi and it will stay there indefinitely.

  • 2
    Step 2

    In step two you are going to install the touchscreen. The touchscreen we are using for this project is the Wave Share Spot Pear, which is only compatible with the operating system Raspbian Jessie. Installing the touchscreen requires several steps which are detailed here This step was the hardest part of this project for me, so hang in there. Once you're over this step it all gets easier!

  • 3
    Step 3

    In step three you are going to download source code for the project "Talker" and copy it onto your Raspberry Pi. The repository for this project is here go to this URL and click on the green button labeled "Clone or Download" and choose "Download ZIP". Once the zip file is on your desktop, you will need to unzip it and transfer it to the Raspberry Pi (I used a USB drive for this which is why USB drive is listed in the parts list.)

View all 6 instructions

Enjoy this project?



hollyartmusic wrote 06/05/2017 at 23:18 point

looking forward to watching this progress! 

  Are you sure? yes | no

Muriel Green wrote 06/30/2017 at 00:45 point

Thank you!

  Are you sure? yes | no

David H Haffner Sr wrote 05/01/2017 at 10:30 point

This is quite a noble project, if I can help just let me know :)

  Are you sure? yes | no

Muriel Green wrote 05/01/2017 at 13:34 point

Thank you, David! I will be sure to message you if I hit any snags and need advice :)

  Are you sure? yes | no

Ulysse wrote 04/25/2017 at 20:15 point

hi Muriel, thank you  !

  Are you sure? yes | no

Muriel Green wrote 05/01/2017 at 13:34 point

Hi Ulysse! I'm excited to see how our projects develop over the next few months :)

  Are you sure? yes | no

Muriel Green wrote 03/21/2017 at 19:09 point

Thanks Haydn! This is along the lines of what I was thinking for my first generation version of the device! Eventually I want to make a version that runs MaryTTS, but maybe not for this contest.

  Are you sure? yes | no

haydn jones wrote 03/21/2017 at 16:30 point

An easy setup could be to use the pi with the official touchscreen and load straight into a web browser, and make the interface in html so it is a web site stored on the pi. You could even go on to and pay someone $5 to read a list of words for you :)

  Are you sure? yes | no

Muriel Green wrote 08/02/2017 at 03:17 point

Haydn! This was such a good idea, thank you! I have some work to do to get it fully pythonic, but the minimum viable product works!

  Are you sure? yes | no

Similar Projects

Does this project spark your interest?

Become a member to follow this project and never miss any updates