Text Messaging Helps Disabled Communicate

Text Messaging Helps Disabled Communicate

A new service, JayBee, helps those unable to communicate audibly express themselves via text messages, in another example of how mobile technology allows a greater range of social interaction for the disabled.

Mobile marketing firm Txtlocal partnered with Time Is Limited, or TIL, to create the JayBee system, which lets disabled users write and read texts using hand movements, touch screen commands, head movements and even eye blinks. These gestures recall specific predictive phrases, like “Come quickly,” or “I need help,” which the user’s phone then reproduces with a realistic-sounding human voice.

The Txtlocal platform’s integration with JayBee’s system, allowing users to send text messages instantly to mobile phones and receive them back, creating a text conversation. The system also “learns” users’ communication patterns with technology initially used by TIL in its space industry endeavors.

The system is now being tested on those, like scientist Stephen Hawking, with motor neuron disease. So far, successful trials show JayBee’s ability to help users send instant messages to care-givers, family and friends. The device gives those affected with speech loss a higher-quality of life by allowing them to communicate more efficiently.

Txtlocal and JayBee are the latest innovations in a growing field using of technologies that aim to increase disabled users’ freedom and communication.

This spring, students at the University of Toronto developed the MyVoice app, which is similar to JayBee. It incorporates users’ location data to pinpoint an appropriate pre-loaded sentence or phrase.

MyVoice uses GPS to tag certain phrases like, “medium skim latte” and associates them with a location, like the user’s regular coffee shop, for added convenience. Also, like the JayBee system, users can customize MyVoice to reflect their personalities.

Both MyVoice and JayBee use communication devices and texting capability to enhance the lives of the disabled, bringing them into an increasingly connected world.

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