Communication apps might be synonymous with fun social networking platforms such as TikTok but they also include applications that have been developed to solve everyday problems. Pic-A-Talk, an app that uses pictures to help children with disabilities enhance their communication, is one of them.
The app’s CEO, Uma Roa, came up with the idea when working on an assignment in college; the computer science major was tasked to come up with a software solution to overcome any major challenge in her life.
It was then that Roa thought about creating a powerful communication tool that could help her younger sister, who suffered from non-verbal autism, communicate better. Reflecting on how her sibling had used images to express herself, Roa decided to build upon that idea to create Pic-A-Talk.
After several iterations, she ended up designing a mobile application for augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), a term referring to methods of communication to help people with speech impairments. Often, for persons with special needs, day-to-day communication can be frustrating and AAC devices are helpful in improving their quality of life.
Featuring a minimalist user interface, the app is easy to use. With a tap of a button, users choose an object from a selection of images to represent a word that is accompanied by audio. These range from essential daily activities and numbers to clothing and toiletries. The sentence generation function, which was recently added, also allows children to express more complex needs. In addition, the Pic-A-Talk app has a customizable function that allows parents to upload new words, images, and icons that are familiar to their kids, facilitating easy communication.
The mobile application is currently used by more than a dozen speech language pathologists and therapists in the Philippines. They include Helping Hands Pediatric Therapy Center, Iligan City SPED Center, and Tinig AAC.
While most of the app’s functions are free, it does have a premium feature that allows users to upload an unlimited number of words and images, as well as track activities.
Pic-A-Talk is currently available for Android and there are plans for it to be made available on iOS devices. The team behind the app is also planning to increase its user base in the Philippines and overseas. They added that they welcome all user feedback, which may be used to make further improvements to the platform in the future.
Pic-A-Talk was among the ten finalists of the Alibaba Cloud x KrASIA Global Startup Accelerator Philippines Demo Day that was held on February 8.