Grace App for Autism on iPhone, iPad and iTouch

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Everybody has a right to be heard.

This is the TED Talk I gave last month at TEDx Dublin.

In it I try to explain the way I came to develop Grace app, but also the reason why I feel so passionately that everyone should have access to a means of communication, regardless of ability.

You see, Grace App is a picture communication system that was designed by and for the user, the person with the speech disability. It gives Grace and people like her a way to engage and get her needs met, but it does not replace her voice. She can try to speak if she wants to, and she can ask for many things. But she can also choose to just point at the pictures she has chosen. Either way, we always understand what she wants.

It is not, and will never be a speech generating device. Because that is about what is easiest for the listener. The Grace App is about the “speaker” the person who has taken, saved and chosen the pictures that they want, and it is up to them if they want to try and say the words, or not. The listener has to look, listen and then prompt each word clearly, but the user is always understood, and rewarded.

The App is simple for reason, it is designed to be used as soon as you realise someone has difficulty with communication. AS SOON AS THEY NEED IT! Don’t “wait for the words to come” – studies have shown that in 87% of cases, introducing an alternative means of communication will actually encourage speech. And don’t disregard anyone’s attempts at speech. A picture App like Grace will ensure that you understand them, however the words come out.

It is all about the engagement, about them wanting to share with you and make you part of their world, so you can encourage them to want to be a part of yours.

Lisa Domican, co-creator of Grace App and mother of Grace.

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