How I Made a Successful App and Helped Thousands of Speech Impaired Persons to Communicate
The thing I’m most proud about in my professional life is the Touch Voice app which I designed and coded helping the speech impaired. It “can sometimes help” persons who have difficulty communicating in spoken language due to “some medical conditions” impairing their speech. Here is where I insert my medical disclaimer:
Touch Voice apps have been designed to address medical conditions such as Stroke, ALS, Traumatic Brain Injury, Brain Tumor, Cerebral Palsy, Multiple Sclerosis, Ataxia, Dysarthria, Laryngeal Cancer, Selective Mutism, Parkinson’s and potentially others not listed.
It of course “cannot cure any of these conditions and it may not even help persons with these conditions to communicate”, however in some cases it does. I also provide some minimal email support for trouble shooting, so I’ve seen the emails where this app does and doesn’t help people. I used this feedback to analyze and improve successive versions of the app. The most recent versions are Touch Voice + (plus) for Android with Touch Voice Gold.
Currently it sells in a number of app stores including one of my own: Apple, Google, Amazon and PayPal (my own shopping cart for Web App — a browser base app technology which allows it to run on laptops and desktops). It may seem like a highly-priced app, but it has very few returns and has sold to nearly 2,500 persons now over a 6-year period. That is a small niche market, so prices need to be higher to cover costs of development, hosting, advertising and support. There are currently 5 versions of the app, all for tablets and larger screens.
Why tablets not phones? Because it uses the extra-large buttons to facilitate communication through speech synthesis and there is just not enough screen area to allow for a good practical communicative user interface. In addition, many persons may have weak and shaky hands due to their specific medical condition leading to difficulty in targeting and touching the buttons which speak for them.
Internet access seems to be another got you issue, since now I’m using some of the speech engine capabilities within the browser APIs, such as Google’s Chrome browser (installing the full version, not the lite version in some mobile devices, even Apple devices). However, these days having an internet connection and access is becoming less of a problem for the users of my app.
The prices of tablets such as the Samsung and iPad line are still high but many people are re-purposing older tablets for use by the speech impaired, so things are improving as well.
Finally, a small complaint of my own . . . Many persons not familiar with how to install an app or a browser and read detailed instructions provided ask me questions that are answered already in the website and emails they receive on purchase. They are sometimes annoyed I won’t setup the app for them or provide phone assistance holding their hands through each and every little step.
Honestly, I can’t afford the time to do this and usually ask them to find a friend or family member who understands and can help out. That way I can keep the app affordable and help many more individuals.
To find out more about my Touch Voice apps for the speech impaired and try a free version in the Chrome Browser visit the website at Touch-Voice.com
Michael McAnally, is a Founder, Futurist, Entrepreneur and Science Fiction Blogger who goes by the pen name Michael Blade. He has deep professional knowledge in computer science and currently lives in San Francisco as CEO-Dev of Touch Voice and owns a Website Design & Development business at WEBMAC.com He has apps in all the major app stores which help thousands of speech impaired individuals and are used in hospitals and care facilities around the globe.