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CREATING ADAPTABLE COMMUNICATION SOFTWARE FOR DISABLED USERS

Presentation at Elon Student Undergraduate Research Forum, Spring 2012

Amanda J. Bienz (Dr. Shanon Duvall) Department of Computing Sciences

Current electronic boards that help disabled people communicate are large, expensive,and not customizable. Costing between 2500 and 8500 dollars, these boards have large, generic buttons that cannot be changed. While children with severe disabilities need these boards and children with very mild cases can use computers instead, many disabled children fall in between these two categories. This research tries to aid this community of users by creating software that not only can be used on a mobile device to help the user communicate, but is also customizable and uses Artificial Intelligence techniques to adapt to the user automatically.

In this research project, we created communication software using the Android mobile platform that shows a display of icons. When one button is touched, the word for that icon is said aloud. This mimics the electronic communication board functionality. However, our software allows parents and guardians to customize the buttons for their child by taking pictures of their child‘s personal things as new buttons as well as record words in their own voices. An unlimited number of buttons can be created, and each can be categorized into specific groups such as playtime or mealtime. The software recognizes whether or not the user is able to accurately touch the buttons, and it resizes the buttons on the fly depending on the agility of the user. This software is currently being run on a Motorola Xoom tablet and is being tested with disabled children in Alamance county.