Author: Garric Clémentine, Master in Cognitive Neurosciences
Vocalyx : Communication content adaptation to varying cognitive application user profiles
Communication disorders exist in many different forms. They can be of cerebral origin, as in caused by a stroke, developmental origin, as in the context of the autistic spectrum, or they can be of mechanical origin, as in paralysis of the face, alteration of the vocal cords, or dysarthria.
The challenge of a communication aid application like Vocalyx making the adapted toolbox fully accessible so that absolutely any message which needs to be communicated by a user, fitting any of the profiles listed above, can be expressed to his entourage.
Essentially, Vocalyx is designed for non-fluent aphasia, Broca, mixed type, or progressive primary aphasia.
▸La Vocalyx toolbox of aphasia
The processing of language in our brain is very complex and requires many areas of the brain to work together. Some are specifically related to language, but there are also more global cognitive functions which involve more general self-regulation, called executive functions. A stroke can affect several of these abilities and this is why the profiles of aphasic people can be are very different from each other. Each case is unique.
The communication keyboards offered in the Vocalyx application make it possible to express the needs of everyday life. Pre-recorded messages allow quick access to expressing general needs, such as hunger, thirst, and pain. For more specific communications needs, like talking about the user him/herself, personal interests, preferences, activities, ect, it is very easy to add personalized keyboards with custom words, phrases, pictures, and pictograms.
It is the form of these messages, specifically the appearance and interface in which they are presented, that must adapt to the cognitive abilities of the user. The form is presented according to two major axes:
1. Proposing a variety of visual supports: pictograms, photos, texts
- If reading is possible
Some people simply have a lack of words and a major difficulty in articulating, but have still maintained their ability to read and recognize words. These people will probably prefer to put their messages together in a text format; so, for these people, using the "PHRASE" keyboard option is best.
If the user does not find what he wants to express in the various pre-recorded or personalized keys, then he can use the predictive input function.
A text box is located above each keyboard, and one click on the box will display the QWERTY keyboard. The person can not only manually type his message, but will also be helped by word prediction , which predicts words according to the letters typed by the user.
- If reading is too difficult
When a person’s reading capacity is affected the words, the objects sought, and the need to communicate must be accessible otherwise. This is made simple via the designation of images.
We offer two types of images in the Vocalyx application: photos, "PHOTO" keyboards or pictograms "PICTO" keyboards. The communication keyboards used the most by people with aphasia are the photo keyboards. In fact, the use of pictograms can actually make them feel infantilized. However, pictos often make it easier to conceptualize complex messages, like actions, for example, which are difficult to capture in a photo. They also have the advantage of being straightforward because they have no distracting elements around the symbolized object.
The user can decide between the two types of images with the people closest to him to decide which type is the easiest for them, or they can use a combination of both depending on the message being conveyed.
2. Proposing different levels of complexity: the use of themes and categories
These communication keyboards are selected according to the answers to the questions you give when you first enter the Vocalyx application. The user only comes across the keyboards which are relevant and adapted to his disorder. However, you can access all the Vocalyx keyboards within the application if desired. You will find keyboards of different levels, as well as keyboards for specific contexts, like hospital and retirement home situations, ect.
Are you a Vocalyx user, or a parent or caregiver of a user? Are you a health professional specialized in the field? We build our application on your feedback about user needs. Feel free to send us your feedback, comments, suggestions, or specific requests to improve our application at firstname.lastname@example.org. Every opinion counts!