Monday, September 28, 2009

Interactivity Helps Non-Verbal Kids Communicate

Phil Bookman and Lenny Greenberg, two eLearning pioneers, have turned their talents to helping non-verbal kids communicate. Their new innnovation? TapToTalk, an interactive software on a Nintendo DSi, which a kid can proudly and easily carry around. The program shows images of various things the child may want to say, but cannot quite easily verbalize. So, the child has to simply locate the right image and -you guessed it- tap to talk. The program "speaks", thus assisting the child.

The product is only one part of Phil and Lenny's innovation. Their business model is the other part. What they sell is a subscription, a SaaS service to let parents and professionals make each TapToTalk meet the individual and changing needs of each child. The actual software that runs on the Nintendo DSi is free. This is a new paradigm at work.

If you would like to see a youtube video that shows how TapToTalk works, check out their Support Center page.

Assistyx, the company that makes TapToTalk, is a start-up company working to use technology to help individuals with physical and mental challenges reach their full potential. According to their web site, Regardless of cause–autism, developmental disability, mental retardation, Down syndrome, and many diseases–TapToTalk can help those who are non-verbal or have other speech or learning challenges communicate and learn.

When I asked Phil Bookman how he feels about Assistyx, he said: "I've started a number of tech companies over the years. This one, and this product, are a labor of love."

They have a embarked upon a noble cause, and I wish them the best.


  1. I can see how TapToTalk will "include" the non-verbal kids in the main stream kid's that proudly carry their DS around. I just played a new Nintendo game called Scribblenauts where you write anything and solve everything. It's actually a learning game as it kept checking my spellings!! I see a trend in children where they not only want the fun and coolness of a game but actions that are more meaningful, be it Xbox, Wii or any other computer game.

    TapToTalk is a good launching software idea. This and any other similar products will easily catch parents attention. The whole ensemble is an attractive business model with kids the game savvy user, parents as the SAAS buyer, and Nintendo the popular game company.

    The YouTube demo of TapToTalk is simple and explanatory. I have downloaded the software so will check it out when I can figure out how to upload it to the DS:(

    Thanks for sharing this new software.

  2. Vikas,

    Thank you for the kind words. Our new business of affordable augmentative and assisted communications (AAC) devices is a journey that we both look forward to.

    I would like Seema to know that in our first release, we have a special game cartridge that we ship to our users (at no additional cost) when they subscribe. It includes a memory card for transferring information between the SaaS application and the device. We currently are shipping to US, Canada and UK only, but we are certainly open to other markets, if it makes business sense and we can support them properly. This card is necessary to support the large DS-Lite customer base.

    So, thanks again for letting people know about We want to build a community and extend our reach.

    Lenny Greenberg, CTO

  3. Wow, how wonderful!!! I heard at the PTA Christmas Party that there was an AAC device that can be used on the iPhone & iPod. It was very easy to use and my son was allowed to have a demo on it, and he liked it a lot (so refused to return the demo). He was even able to use it without guidance. The price is $29.99 and called Voice4u.

    It's some pretty nice information I thought everyone should know about.

    Merry Christmas!