Affordable speech synthesizers.


An online friend just pointed this website out:

Afforda Speech

They have small DECtalk-based (which means, pretty low-end but comprehensible, they’re what the Link and Liberator systems used among others) speech synthesizers that can attach to AlphaSmarts and PDAs and such, for about $500. Which is still more than I could afford, but cheaper than anything else out there, and could be of great use to people in a lot of situations.

Such as, people who have a broken device and still have to wait some amount of time designated by the insurance company before they can get a new one. People who only need a speech device part-time and are unsure whether they want to go through the whole testing process to get one (I just spoke to someone like this, so hopefully she’s reading this blog because I can’t remember who it was). People who are waiting for a speech device and want something in the meantime. People who have an AlphaSmart or PDA or something they use for communication, but want it to be able to speak on its own. People who want to be able to easily use a custom keyboard. People who already have one device and want a backup. People who want to try a device before they commit to a more expensive one. People who want a device but have a phobia of professionals. Etc.

Not all of them are for sale yet, but some of them are, and it looks really cool and more affordable than nearly anything else out there.

About Mel Baggs

Hufflepuff. Came from the redwoods, which tell me who I am and where I belong in the world. I relate to objects as if they are alive, but as things with identities and properties all of their own, not as something human-like. Culturally I'm from a California Okie background. Crochet or otherwise create constantly, write poetry and paint when I can. Proud member of the developmental disability self-advocacy movement. I care a lot more about being a human being than I care about what categories I fit into.

8 responses »

  1. Working as a remediation engineering technician, I had hours of fun trying to get the one we have to swear in gaelic …. basically we had to test its possibilities…

  2. They seem to have a slightly more expensive version that ships with a compatible AlphaSmart. But that’s indeed a problem. (I haven’t been keeping track of AlphaSmarts in awhile, mine is a 2000.)

  3. Even cheaper is looking or the DECtalk “speakers” that used to be sold to blind people and which have a serial port input. They can often be found for $100 or so used.

    That said, while I understand some people might think this is a good idea, and it might be for some people, I really, really, really advise people to go after the device/technique/technology that will *best* suit their communication needs. If this is part of it, great! If not, go after what you *really* need. That’s the reason JTalk (some speech software I wrote) has a license agreement which specifically excludes use where communication is actually important – sure people are free to violate that license, and I won’t come after them (I will come after the first school or state that gives people JTalk instead of what they need though, which is the reason for that clause) – after all, I don’t want to limit people’s communication options either! But I didn’t want it to be used instead of what would work well because of the cost.

    Yes, certainly, there are realities involved that sometimes complicate things and less than perfect systems are sometimes forced on people. But we really, really need to be fighting those problems as a community. A part time AAC user should have access to the best equipment, even when it is expensive. Everyone should have a backup means of communication, even if it is expensive. Etc. These are human rights.

  4. here are some clauses from our [uk] recent Independent Living /disability rights legislation:
    Here are some quotes from the Independent Living Bill re
    disability rights for people with communication disabilities (my underlining):
    (viii) assistance to take advantage of educational facilities and


    … (x) assistance to develop and maintain social networks and


    (xi) assistance to participate in job search, employment, training,

    work experience and volunteering;

    (xii) assistance to participate in inclusive play, recreational, sporting,

    religious or cultural activities;

    (xviii) the provision of, or assistance in obtaining, consumer

    communications apparatus and services such as a mobile or fixed-

    line telephone, a computer, a digital television receiver, a digital

    radio receiver, a broadband service or digital television service and

    any assistive equipment required in connection with this
    (a) practical assistance and support for that person including, but not

    limited to—

    (i) the provision of communication aids and equipment;

    (ii) the provision of other forms of assistive equipment and

    technology for daily living;

    (iii) the provision of one-to-one support for communication, access

    to information and mobility;

  5. Can’t see why no-one can come up with something cheap and reliable like a speech synthesizer equivalent of an alphasmart.

    In some situations an alphasmart has the edge over a laptop, in that it has a sensible keyboard, lasts forever on a set of batteries and doesn’t have to boot up.

    My PDA is useless in comparison.

    Why can’t they come up with something that you can type into with a bluetooth keyboard such as you can get for texting on some phones these days?

    Speech synthesis is a lot less technical than what they put in mobile phones these days.


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