Adults learning to speak English and children struggling with speech impediments often require assistance from a speech pathologist. However, access to a trained speech professional is challenging for some. Wait lists are long and not all insurance carriers cover the cost of speech therapy. Our Center for Learning & Innovation has devised a technological solution to bridge the gap between those in need of speech therapy and those with access to it.
Speech Sounds Visualized (SSV)
The Center for Learning and Innovation thinks about healthcare differently, striving to give everyone access to the care they need. To help children and English-language learners, they developed a revolutionary digital app where users actually “see” the sounds of speech.
Speech Therapy from the Palm of your Hand!
As technology becomes increasingly integrated into the medical field, apps such as Speech Sounds Visualized are being brought into conception to ensure individuals around the world have access to affordable health care. The SSV solution is not the first speech pathology app, but it is the most advanced. As the only app in the world to use x-ray technology, SSV allows users to watch x-ray videos of the mouth so they can understand how English speech sounds are made.
“This is an innovative way to look at how speech sounds are formed,” says Keri Jones, a speech language pathologist at Summit Therapy and the app’s developer. “Users select a sound and watch how the mouth and tongue form the sound. They can then try to imitate the exact movements shown.”
Mastering the English Language - It Starts with a Sound
Much like traditional speech therapy, the app starts with individual sounds and builds from there. “Certain sounds are challenging for kids and individuals learning English; specifically R, S, and L,” explains Jones. “In order to master those sounds, you need to focus on the specific sound in isolation.”
There are 44 unique sounds in the English language, all of which are covered by the app. Instructions written by a speech pathologist are also included to explain in detail how to make the sound. After practicing, users record themselves making the sound and play it back. They even have the ability to record themselves as the video plays, so they can hear how they’ve created the sound compared to the video’s version.
“It’s the next best thing to being in a session with a speech pathologist,” states Jones. “The app contains all the tips and instruction you would receive in a one-on-one session, but you can access all that knowledge from your home. It’s quite remarkable.” Once the user is comfortable with the sounds, he or she swipes to pull up a list of words that include the sound. After practicing words, the user can swipe again to reveal sentences for practice.
Speech Therapy for Everyone
While the app was initially developed for adult English-language learners, the functionality is also appropriate for children who are struggling with a speech impediment. Jones recommends using the app on its own or in tandem with more formal speech therapy.
“I developed the app for anyone who wants to sit down and focus on their speech and pronunciation,” says Jones. “The app is being downloaded all over the world, and I hope it allows more people to receive the help they need.”