It's live! The SpeechBubble website was launched in October 2010. Find it at www.speechbubble.org.uk.
When we buy a camera, washing machine, or even a mortgage, many of us rely on the specialist magazines and websites that compare and contrast what’s available. But, unbelievably, nothing similar exists for the hundreds of communication aids that are now available – devices like the ‘talking’ computer used by Stephen Hawking, for example.
It's clear that there’s an urgent need for professionals and carers alike to have access to a single source of comprehensive, reliable and unbiased information about communication aids and their associated products. The SpeechBubble project aims to provide a unique searchable website through which therapists, parents, carers and communication aid users themselves can compare and contrast the key features of the aids, provide an insight into how they can be operated, and make sense of the bewildering variety of communication software that’s on offer.
Download the SpeechBubble project overview pdf (3Mb)
The value of such a website as a professional resource, assessment support tool and teaching aid is immense, and will give all those involved in the decision-making process the reassurance that all the options have been considered.
We know it's needed because we piloted a website that contained minimal hardware details of over 100 aids - and that's received over 600 hits a month from across the world. It's useful, but the overwhelming feedback we're had was that it's not nearly useful enough.
SpeechBubble is a project that will cost around £60,000, and we'll be bringing in the expertise of professionals, parents and users to make sure we get the facts right and make it as effective as possible. One speech and language therapist (not one of ours!) recently summed up the need for it by saying:
"I can't tell you how reassuring it is to know that people are thinking about such a resource. My case load has been 90 per cent AAC users for ten years and I struggle to keep up to date with everything. I have no idea how a therapist with the odd AAC user copes."
How will we do this?
- By collecting and maintaining selected details of communication aid hardware and software.
- By developing, testing and launching an accessible website containing this data.
- By putting in place a mechanism for the continuing maintenance and updating of the site and its contents.
- By forming an External Advisory Group of communication aid professionals and users to oversee the development, content and functionality of the website.
Who will benefit?
- SpeechBubble will provide a professional assessment resource for speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, IT practitioners and teachers to ensure that they have the most up-to-date knowledge when advising and recommending communication equipment for their clients.
- Individuals with communication disabilities and their parents/carers will receive a more consistent and efficient level of service from communication professionals, and they will have the reassurance that all the options have been considered.
- The website will be a key teaching resource for student therapists and the continuing professional development of qualified practitioners.
- SpeechBubble will act as a first-stop information point for any Individuals with communication disabilities and their parents/carers who need to know more about communication aids, and it will enable them to ask the right questions of the professionals working with them.
- The compare and contrast features will be invaluable for exisiting communication aid users who wish to ensure that their existing equipment remains the most suitable for their needs and abilities.
Timescale & strategy
SpeechBubble will take twelve months to develop and test. There’s absolutely no point in producing such a website unless it is regularly maintained, so a post-launch strategy will ensure that this resource remains indispensible. The live website is due to launch in April 2010.