Teen Develops Communication App for Nonverbal Sister

teen develops freespeech communication app for nonverbal sister

  • A teenager who was hoping to communicate with his nonverbal sister tried to search for a communication app.
  • Disappointed with the available communication apps, Archer created his own app, Freespeech, to help her sister Della communicate.
  • The free, open-source app helps users like Della communicate by pressing visual buttons.

Della Calder, 14, has a rare genetic condition called Bainbridge-Ropers Syndrome which makes her nonverbal and unable to speak. Over the past year, Della’s 16-year-old brother Archer kept searching for an app that might help her communicate.

Archer said that he not only wanted to hear his sister’s thoughts but to also help other people who struggle to communicate verbally. He also knows how it feels to not be able to communicate properly, since he had a stutter growing up. He was only able to overcome it through four years of speech therapy.

Photo Credit: YouTube

Archer soon learned that the available apps were too expensive and did not have the features that he wanted.

So the teen decided to harness his love for coding and computer programming to make his own app — one that would be better than the ones available.

Teen Develops Communication App for Nonverbal Sister
Photo Credit: YouTube

Soon, a free, open-source app called Freespeech was born.

The easy-to-use app utilizes Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). By pressing visual buttons that represent words, users like Della can communicate and create a sentence by pressing several buttons in order.

Archer shared how the app has brought about positive changes in their lives.

Della can now “pull up these things that she wants to talk about, things that she enjoys, and she’s able to communicate it like anybody else would, through the iPad.”

Teen Develops Communication App for Nonverbal Sister
Photo Credit: YouTube

“It was different growing up with a sibling that you couldn’t talk with. Using an app that I had created for her, I think that was one of the first times I was able to communicate with her, kind of like I would communicate with anybody else. With someone that was able to talk. So that was kind of a special moment for me,” he added.

Teen Develops Communication App for Nonverbal Sister
Photo Credit: YouTube

When Archer shared the launch of Freespeech on TikTok, he received such an overwhelming response, which encouraged him to share it on GitHub to get advice from other experienced programmers.

Archer still continues to tweak the code to improve it based on Della’s reactions. He also made the source code public to encourage other programmers to improve on it. He has insisted that the app remain free.

The Freespeech website states, “Our vision is to create a free alternative to the expensive AAC applications out there. We want to create a static, universal keyboard for the non-verbal allowing for the most efficient user experience. Custom keys are also included, but the app comes pre-loaded with an expansive vocabulary.”

While Archer’s initial aim was to help his sister, he hopes that his app can help many more.

Source: Inspire More

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