Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Simple Speech from Pal Software Design LLC - A brief review of AAC Software for Windows Platform

By Luke Hsieh, Community Access Center, Riverside

When I first came across the Simple Speech website, I was a little apprehensive because it didn’t include the company's physical address or telephone number. It only has a PayPal sign for credit card payment, the name of its CEO and a rather vague statement that the company is based in Brooklyn, New York. True, many small companies that produce software aimed at a niche market tend to use this model to minimize operating expenses—and trust me, AAC software definitely qualifies as a niche market. Using a PayPal payment and direct download of the software means no mess, no fuss. However, most companies do provide their physical address and telephone number to give an impression of legitimacy. So you cannot blame me for being a little weary.

To make a long story short, I took a chance and bought a copy of Simple Speech for testing. It works very much like Proloquo2go from AssistiveWare and Dynavox's MightyMo; it also comes with a full set of Dynavox PEC pictures. However, it does not include a voice engine, so it will use whatever voice engine is already installed on your device. Hence, if the only voice engine you have is the infamous Microsoft Sam, then Sam would have to do.

I like Simple Speech because school districts may be more likely to buy the software for Windows Platform devices instead of buying a $200 iPod or a $500 iPad. The disadvantage is that even with the latest Tablet Windows PC, the Windows Platform device may still not be as portable as an iPod Touch or iPad. So there is something of a trade off there. But if you can afford $45 for IVONA 2 Text to Speech Engine and another $49 for Simple Speech, you can turn any Windows platform PC into a rather pleasing AAC device.

Have you tried Simple Speech or any of the other AAC software discussed above? What were your experiences? Please share your thoughts in the comment box below.

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