Will Wade

Stephen Hawking's AAC setup in closeup

At MOSI in Manchester today, I saw Stephen Hawking’s Chair and other neat things from his office in Cambridge. Note the spaghetti of cables. It’s tricky to figure out where all the leads go, but I’ll give it a wild guess. The plugs look like either mini XLR or the old PS2 Serial leads. Some questions, though; I’m unsure what the “Filter” box fits to and why is the Words+ box even used? I thought the connection with Intel meant he was using ACAT. Why is that Words+ Softkey box the parallel version when there is clearly a lot of USB kicking about, too? Why are we plugging into something behind the chair when surely the tablet has the speakers anyway? There are as many questions than answers.

Correlating Sounds for a sound switch

Last week, I visited a client for work to test out a sound switch device. For one reason and another, the kit didn’t pan out on the day (NB: Highly possible it might have been me.. I need to try again). But with the recordings we got, we can now do some fun work and create a melspectogram correlation technique. It might work.. It certainly looks pretty reliable against background noise and talking. You can see our work in progress and try it yourself at github.com/acecentre…

🚀 Calling All AAC Testers for a new release of our Google Cloud/Azure TTS and Translation tool

We’ve given our little Translate and Speak app for Windows a complete makeover. Our app not only translates text but also vocalizes messages from the message window using online services. We’ve introduced a user-friendly GUI to simplify configuration, extended support to include paid translation services, and here’s the grand reveal… you can now empower any Windows AAC app to leverage Google Cloud TTS or Azure TTS which massively opens up the possibility of using AAC with more languages. You can even use these services without translation - so just to speak.

Get your hands on the early version here. BUT - just a heads up, you will need to be comfortable obtaining keys for Azure or Google Cloud. Check out our (somewhat outdated) docs for guidance. And ping me some feedback before we release it properly. Prizes for someone who can make me a nice demo video!

The rare blue supermoon. From beside lake Windermere.

Moon shot with sheep in foreground

Immersive Reader which is these days embedded in everything that Microsoft does it seems is a quiet miracle. I have some niggles (Line Focus - next and previous buttons shouldn’t move), and the web version is heaps better than on desktop.. But still - Its fab - reading coach is particularly awesome.

Am I the stupid one? So you rename one of the most popular apps out there. A vast majority of its users who don’t read tech press know nothing about this. Like most. They go to look at their app. It’s literally gone. No twitter app. Oh but now there’s this dodgy X (1 letter) app. What the actual F ?

The new voice creation tool in iOS and live speech (in-built tts app from any screen) in iOS. My voice is definitely.. clunky .. but bear in mind I recorded this at like 2am in a AirBnB and didn’t want to wake the neighbours. 15 mins recording.

Need an AAC/AT textbook but nowhere near a library or have money? This is awesome from Internet Archive. Loan a textbook for free for an hour at a time. archive.org/details/i… (and my personal fav : archive.org/details/a…)

Just released a new build of our RelayKeys stack. RelayKeys allow us to turn any Windows AAC device into a Bluetooth Keyboard/Mouse (and to come.. Games controller). You plug a small dongle into the AAC device - pair it with any Bluetooth device - a phone, tablet, SmartTV, for example - and then can send keystrokes, macros and Mouse commands to the device. Our new release allows adds the option to use a receiving dongle instead of relying on a device’s own Bluetooth which removes some teams' headaches with managing Bluetooth devices. The attached video shows it working in Tobii Dynavox Communicator - but also we have made pagesets for Smartbox Grid 3 - The dongle costs £12-15 each. Software = Free! None of this wouldn’t be possible without the fab Adafruit. More info at docs.acecentre.org.uk/products/…


I was lucky to see the latest iteration of the Colibri (“Hummingbird”) from Colibri interfaces a few weeks ago. It’s a wireless head mouse - and blink switch. They also have a free web-based Scanning Speller, which is accessible with Blink from your browser. Portuguese only for now.

Nice trip to Wales (Brecon to be exact) the other weekend. Although the mosquito bites here were crazy 📷

Knocked this up quickly. Type in one language. Translate within your AAC app, speak it out loud in that language and paste it back. Pretty configurable. Lag is due to using Google TTS but will work with offline TTS systems - i.e SAPI, coqui & eSpeak. code

Quick demo video here

Feedbin. Where have you been all my life? The answer to the demise of Google reader, twitter and now reddit. I need RSS.. but not everyone supports it. Feedbin takes your email subscriptions and turns them into one readable bucket. Fab.

Accessibility helps everyone. Why do 50% of Americans watch the TV with subtitles?. Whatever the reason - this accessibility feature, which was primarily designed for those with difficulty hearing - is helpful for all. Thats awesome.

Midiblocks is a super neat idea. A block editor to program your gestures . Under the hood it’s using HandsFreeJs which is another wrapper around MediaPipe. Similar to EyeCommander and Project Gameface. Talking of which I’ll just leave this here. Eek. 👀 Not a great PR start for the Google project.

Project Gameface was announced with fanfare - but the actual experience is something that isn’t very “complete”. There is a ton of issues & installing it is not fun. We made an installer at least which helps.. a bit. (warning: it’s not signed. You may have to run this from a terminal window)

Just for fun really - dasher in visionOS. I think this totally needs rethinking for this platform - particularly given the hand detection stuff built into visionOS.

(“Must not get distracted.. must not get distracted..” )

From our fab OT student today

So are you telling me my phone can autocorrect but that’s not done on AAC Devices .. and the user always has to select their predictions?.

Hmmm. I wonder if I was missing something (and not from the world of research like Keith Vertanen’s demos.. anyone?

So what’s the difference between autocorrect and prediction? Prediction software has been around for years. In essence, the software displays predictions, and in some way, you have to select the predicted word or sentence. In some software the selection technique is reduced (e.g. in Microsoft 365 products now a swipe to the right allows you to select the suggested word/phrase). But you still have to actively look and seek it. More recently, autocorrection software has started to appear. If you ask me, it makes a lot of sense (some suggest it’s a terrible idea for learning language.. but for dyslexia support it looks amazing). You reduce the visual search aspect and just type. Any mistakes or typos it tries to correct. It’s not for everyone - but in AAC, it seems like a great idea. Focus on what you can get out and let the thing correct itself.

I am reviewing the “traffic light” system for AAC by Karen Erickson for our ATU this week. It’s similar to ideas in an Activity & Occupation Analysis - but much more reduced and focused on AAC activities in a day. Redrawn here - maybe too reduced from the original concept. Use at your peril.

What duck are you today? On the rubber duck scale I think I’m feeling a bit of a 4.. (if not on that scale- but maybe a 4 on this page: www.theatlantic.com/photo/202… )

A fascinating couple of papers that Simon Judge notes in his blog about the design and abandonment of AAC systems

“the role of communication aids in an individuals’ communication is subtle and not a simple binary ‘used or not used’”.

What I find really neat is Zoë’s paper and the creation of a model

“This model consists of a communication loop – where experiences of prior communication attempts feed into decisions about whether to communicate and what method to use to communicate – each of which were influenced by considerations of the importance of the message, the time taken, who the communication partner was, the environment the communication is taking place in (physical and social) and the personal context and preferences of the individual

The “choice” of when and how much to use an AAC device is down to the user. We shouldn’t see this as abandonment.

Having a great chat with our team of OTs about how we measure outcomes and sharing our old presentation from 2011, which still stands. Whatever happened to the adapted GAS for AT? Well GAS Light looks interesting.

Outcomes in Occupational Therapy (& Assistive Technology) from will wade

Looking forward to delivering day 9 today of our Assistive Technology Unit (with the University of Dundee). The focus is on Activity & Occupational Analysis - which I feel is an essential part of our AT assessment process. (Adapted from Acitivity & Occupational Analysis)

Steps to Activity Analysis

See also:

SLT’s having fun with their laminators.. ho ho..

(Credit actually Roz Thompson aka Trash sells Trash (not actually a SLT..))

Lady pretending to laminate her own hands kneeling on the floor behind laminator

“While deep contemplation is useful for problem-solving, overthinking can impair these abilities, leading us to act impulsively and make counterproductive choices.”

From The Paradoxical Nature of Negative Emotions.