Bloomington-based startup launches App to help non-verbal kids and adults

Bloomington-based startup Bloomingsoft has launched an app to help non-verbal kids and adults.

Bloomington-based app startup, Bloomingsoft, teamed up with local therapists, educators and experts to create an iPad app to assist those with autism, down syndrome, aphasia and other language-impairing disabilities.

SpeechHero allows non-verbal kids and adults to tap their way to spoken communication. Instead of using typed text, SpeechHero provides symbolic image tiles to represent actions, people and things. The non-verbal user than taps these tiles to build phrases and the iPad speaks them out loud.

While there are a number of other more expensive technologies available, they require dedicated hardware and training. SpeechHero is unique in that it is one of the few which kids report enjoy using. "We've tested with over 40 students, speech therapists and educators", said Robynn McKinney, co-creator. "in our testing, it is the only speech app that kids are excited to use. They tell us that that competing apps are either too difficult, too confusing or too boring to use."

Bloomingsoft partnered with premier voice technology company Acapela to provide natural speech delivery for the app. SpeechHero contains 8 different voices that take advantage of pauses, intonation and punctuation to provide a naturalistic voice experience.

SpeechHero has already launched at the price of $99.99. "We've been told by other vendors that our price is too low," said McKinney. Indeed, other apps charge about double this price, and specially-made hardware can cost upwards of $20,000. "Shouldn't everyone have access to this technology? I think so." said McKinney.