An online friend just pointed this website out:
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.