Voice Output Communication Aids (VOCAs) for ASD

Voice Output Communication Aids (VOCAs)

These devices, allow an individual to select meanings to be spoken aloud by the device, to meet most of a person’s communication needs. These devices use letters, pictures, words, or phrases which can be selected in combination or alone in order to relay a certain message. The device will speak through a generated speech or a voice recording. Devices can range from simple to complex, with some allowing for an individual to create conversation with a partner using the device.

The speech output may use digitized (pre-recorded) speech, synthesized (artificial) speech or both. Digitized messages are created by recording spoken words directly into the electronic communication aid. Although synthesized speech is computer-generated, the quality of this artificial speech has much improved in recent years and can sound as good as digitized.

They have some characteristics

  1. Buttons: Many VOCA electronic communication aids have symbols on buttons which are pressed to generate speech output. Some models may only have a few messages such as greetings and common phrases, while others can store hundreds of words. Although these sorts of VOCA’s often come with the icons pre-loaded, generally the user can add further sets of icons, personal images and even photos. Examples include the GoTalk devices by liberator.

  2. Touchscreen: Modern VOCA electronic communication aids utilize a touch screen and have the same capabilities as a button operated device, but often allows for the re-arranging of icons to suit the preference of the user. As well as this, they often offer access to the internet, SMS, email, phone calls, internet browsing and inbuilt cameras.

  3. Text: VOCAS with text input via a standard or touchscreen keyboard include the TTS100, The Allora and a number of other light writer models. The user types in words as opposed to selecting set ones, before a digitized voice vocalize whatever it is that has been input into the electronic communication aid.

Some VOCAs use paper or plastic sheets that have sets of words or symbols that represent recorded words or messages. These sets of words or symbols are static – they do not change. Other VOCAs display words or symbols on a computer-like screen. These displays are dynamic – they change according to what the AAC speaker selects. For example, if they select the “food” symbol, the display may change to a set of symbols of different things to eat.


zuvo™-PLUS^ perform smart home functions such as controlling your TV, DVD, stereo, lights, etc. in your home. It's easy to stay connected with family and friends using built-in controls for texting, mobile phone, email, social media Take control of your speech with a wide variety of access options – keyguards, head mouse, switch scanning, eye tracking or auditory scanning and auditory fishing A 10-inch screen and just 3 pounds, the zuvo™10-D is a lightweight device perfect for communication on the go.

A bit bigger than our zuvo™ 10-D, the zuvo™12-D has a 12-inch screen and weighs just 3.11 pounds.

For those who prefer a larger screen, the zuvo™16-D has an 16-inch screen and only weighs 5.0 pounds.

eyespeak™ Communication Systems

Next-generation eye-tracking speech-generating devices.

The eyespeak™ Communication Systems are the perfect solution to communication and physical difficulties at home, school, or on the road. Each system is individually personalized to meet the physical and communication needs of those with ALS


FLEXstand™ and mount plate | Built-in Eye-tracking, Environmental Controls and Switch Access .

With zuvo Control ECU, you can use your eyes to control your phone, TV, lights and more from your device. Almost anything that plugs into a wall outlet can be controlled with the zuvo 12 PLUS with eyespeak. You can also control your smart speaker right from the device.

zuvo 16-D

A larger screen, the zuvo 16-D and zuvo 16 PLUS with eyespeak With zuvo Control ECU, you can use your eyes to control your phone, TV, lights and more from your device. Almost anything that plugs into a wall outlet can be controlled with the zuvo 16 PLUS with eyespeak. You can also control your smart speaker right from the device.


Voice Input Voice Output Communication Aid


A short film about the development of the VIVOCA


"I Can't Talk Now":

Speaking with Voice Output Communication Aid Using Text-to-Speech Synthesis During Multiparty Video Conference


Speaking for Myself

Speaking for Myself is an overall insight into VOCAs voice output communication aids and the people that use them https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xq1aPKSnSnY


A very basic device with a switch that speaks a recorded message when pressed. You can record a new message over the old; for example, Mum can record a message for the child to take to school, and they can bring home a message recorded by a teacher.

These devices help an AAC user to participate. You can also use them to label items around the house or classroom, provide a talking lunch menu or introduce the user to speech output.

Talking Keyboards

A keyboard and audio speaker combination without a dynamic display or visual screen. This type of keyboard sends typed text direct to an audio speaker. It can permit any phrase to be spoken without the need for a visual screen that is not always required. One simple benefit is that a talking keyboard, when used with a standard telephone or speakerphone can enable a voice impaired individual have 2 way conversation over a telephone

The GoTalk

One is a single message button recorder with up to ten seconds of recording time. This talker is great for visual learners, it features a large picture display area and a big play button. It is very affordable, fairly durable, and easy to use.

Keyboard used to create speech over a telephone using a Text to Speech converter

Digitalised Speech

Keyboard used to create speech over a telephone using a Text to Speech converter. Words, phrases or entire messages can be digitised and stored onto the device for playback to be activated by the user. This process is formally known as Voice Banking. Advantages of recorded speech include that it (a) provides natural and speech naturalness for the listener (e.g., person of the same age and gender as the AAC user can be selected to record the messages), and (b) it provides for additional sounds that may be important for the user such as laughing or whistling. Moreover, Digitized SGDs is that they provide a degree of normalcy both for the patient and for their families when they lose their ability to speak on their own

Keyboard text-to-speech generating device

Personal Talker

Little Mac


You can buy a wide range of devices that use paper-based overlays, ranging from two to 128 keys. You place the overlays, which have pictures, symbols or words, over the keys to show which one will say which message.

Some overlay devices have several levels with different messages on each so they can be used in different situations with no need to re-record. The speaker may want to use different levels – for example for work, respite, going out, going to the pub, or shopping. Different levels are also useful when other people may use the device. You make a separate overlay for each level.

Some devices allow the AAC speaker to change levels, but it may be difficult for some to manage this.Examples:

Partner Four Plus

Allora 2 Speech-generating device

Fast, easy text-to-speech technology provides instant communication for literate children and adults

Go Talk 9

Tech/Speak 32

Go Board


Dynamic screen devices display symbols or graphics on a screen and can store multiple “pages”. The AAC speaker can navigate between pages by selecting the appropriate key.

You can set up the device in many different ways. For example, you could choose between one and 72 keys per page, or you could link pages together in simple or multi-branching ways. You could also programme the device to automatically open or close a page when the AAC speaker selects a particular vocabulary item.

On the dynamic screen devices illustrated below, the user can change which page to display. A page may contain any combination of symbols, pictures, words and phrases. These devices are equally suitable for someone who is highly literate and someone who doesn’t have reading and spelling skills. Some devices offer additional features such as SMS, playing music, viewing photographs, Skype, internet access and email.

Dynamic display devices cost several thousand pounds. They run on internal batteries that need to be charged overnight, every night, so they have enough power to be used for the whole of the next day.

Before purchasing any equipment it is important to assess an AAC speaker’s skills and needs carefully. But an assessment is essential if they will use equipment that is more complex than digitised VOCAs with paper displays.

Tellus Mobii

Vantage Lite


speaks4me® is a unique, patent-protected, ‘hi-tech’ Voice Output Communication Aid (VOCA) that was developed by Steve Lodge for his severely non-verbal, autistic son Callum.

Callum using his speaks4me® at school He quickly learnt to use a physical Picture Exchange system but became demotivated by its’ limitations as his vocabulary developed to hundreds of images.

Life Hacks--Low Tech Voice Output Devices


AAC - Speech Generating Devices

For those with disabilities that impair their ability to speak, a speech generating device may be prescribed to assist communications.



Device to let people with disabilities control iPad with eyes unveiled

US-based Tobii Dynavox has unveiled TD Pilot, a communication device for people with disabilities, that allows users to control iPads with their eyes. Users will be able to use apps, type quickly and speak with a synthetic voice. TD Pilot has an eye-tracking gear, a set of stereo speakers and a small screen for displaying text.

TTouchChat HD

TouchChat HD for iPad®for iPad®ouchChat HD for iPad® / iPod® / iPhone® is a full-featured communication solution for individuals who have difficulty using their natural voice. TouchChat is designed for individuals with Autism, Down Syndrome, ALS, apraxia, stroke, or other conditions that affect a person’s ability to use natural speech. Please note that the WordPower suite of vocabularies is not included in this version of TouchChat.

Go Talk Express 2

The GoTalk Express is a fully functional scanning device. It also has these features: 5 recording levels, a level, and record lock, surround-message LEDs for visual prompts, an option to add a 1½ second auditory cue to any message, and the ability to seamlessly play multiple messages in sequence.


The ECO2 is an Alternative and Augmentative communication device that works alongside a Windows XP computer. The device has a large screen, with large buttons for easy selections for those with visual or motor challenges. This device has many features, such as the auditory prompts, to aid individuals with visual impairments. This device also has environmental control technology allowing it to control lights, TV and DVD players


wego™ A family of speech-generating devices are ideal solutions for children and adults with communication difficulties.

Perfect at home, school, on the road or in the medical environment, the wego A speech devices are among the fastest, most powerful and flexible communication systems available! The wego A speech devices come with a wide range of options and an easy-to-learn, intuitive interface. The wego™ 5A-D is a BIG voice in a small package.

7-inch display and at just 1.8 pounds, the wego™ 7A-D is lightweight, rugged, and portable.

Larger than the wego™ 7A-D, the wego™ 10A-D has a 10-inch display and is also lightweight, rugged, and portable.

With its 13-inch display, there's a lot to love about the superhero-size wego™ 13A-D.


wegowrite™-D - next generation type-to-talk speech device

the wegowrite™-D with intelligent word prediction drastically improves typing speed for effortless communication.Wireless, detachable TTMT Bluetooth Speaker (SPKR) provides amplified sound in noisy environments.

Big Mack

A single switch/button device available from AbleNet which allows for 20 seconds of record time

Tape recorder

Any easily operated tape recorder can be effective in addressing various skill areas in children with autism spectrum disorder

Language Master

The Language Master is a "mid" tech piece of equipment that has been used for more than 20 years (25).

Talk Pad

A 4-message/button battery operated device available, which allows for 15 seconds of record time per button

Step-by-Step Communicator

A battery operated device which allows for prerecording a series of unlimited sequenced messages up to a total of 75 seconds of record time

Language Master: The Language Master is a "mid" tech piece of equipment that has been used for more than 20 years (25).


Lightwriter is a switch and keyboard communication device whereby the user types out messages which are then relayed through the speakers by an automated voice. Most models on the market today have a dual screen display, one that the user can see and one that is outward facing for the person who is being communicated with to read. The Allora model, a variation of the Lightwriter by Techcess, even has a removable second screen complete with its own set of speakers. This is ideal in noisy environments, as it can be handed to the person the message is intended for, allowing for clearer communication

Interactive Visuals for Asking and Answering Simple Emotions Questions AAC PECS

Identifying feelings and emotions (social emotional learning skills). This resource is designed to teach students to ask and answer simple emotions questions using interactive AAC visuals. Contains over 288 conversation boards for asking and answering the emotions question "how do they feel?". This pack covers 8 emotions: happy, sad, angry, tired, scared, excited, bored and silly.

Voice in the Box

Multi-message battery operated communication devices available in 16, 24 or 40 messages/buttons from FrameTechnologies

Voice Output Communication Aids (VOCAs):

Can be used to develop the following groups of skills for children with autism: Language Comprehension Skills, Expressive Communication Skills, Social Skills, Attending Skills, Organization Skills and Academic Skills

Cheap Talk 4

A 4 message/button device which allows for 5 seconds of record time per button available from Enabling Devices