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Electronic Communication Aids – VOCAS

Posted on 27/09/2018

With electronic communication aids advancing every day and new technology being brought to the publics attention, it can be difficult to know which one is most suited to your disability. One of the most recent acronyms in the disability technology sector is VOCA which stands for Voice Output Communication Aids and these cover many different types of electronic communication aids and because there are a number of variants, they are suited to a wide range of communication disorders.

What Is a VOCA?

VOCAs use electronically-stored speech as the method of communication. Sentences or longer messages can be pieced together from individual words and phrases, with the stored vocabulary possibly running into thousands of words.

The speech output may use digitised (pre-recorded) speech, synthesized (artificial) speech or both. Digitised messages are created by recording spoken words directly into the electronic communication aid. Although synthesized speech is computer-generated, the quality of this artificial speech has much improved in recent years and can sound as good as digitised.

How Are They Operated?

Buttons: Many VOCA electronic communication aids have symbols on buttons which are pressed to generate speech output. Some models may only have a few messages such as greetings and common phrases, while others can store hundreds of words. Although these sorts of VOCA’s often come with the icons pre-loaded, generally the user can add further sets of icons, personal images and even photos. Examples include the GoTalk devices by liberator.

Touchscreen:  Modern VOCA electronic communication aids utilise a touch screen and have the same capabilities as a button operated device, but often allows for the re-arranging of icons to suit the preference of the user. As well as this, they often offer access to the internet, SMS, email, phone calls, internet browsing and inbuilt cameras.

Text: VOCAS with text input via a standard or touchscreen keyboard include the TTS100, The Allora and a number of other lightwriter models. The user types in words as opposed to selecting set ones, before a digitised voice vocalise whatever it is that has been input into the electronic communication aid.