New Feature Alert! Chat devices (NOVA Chat, LR7, Chat Fusion)

New Feature Alert! Chat devices (NOVA Chat, LR7, Chat Fusion)

‘Pop-up Speech’ – A Transition to Literacy tool

Chat devices (NOVA Chat, LR7, Chat Fusion)

This new feature displays a ‘pop up’ of written text for the word selected. This feature may be beneficial for some people as it displays animated text along with the spoken word when a button is selected. Text in motion draws the user’s visual attention to the word spoken by the button. This setting can be turned on under Settings > Input > Pop-up Speech in Chat Software version 2.14 and above – for support to update your Chat device or check your software version, please contact your local consultant or email

Janice Light and colleagues recently published an article on this topic – read the article review by our Liberator Therapists Ash Colombini (NSW) and Freya Allen (WA).

Article review

Caron, J., Light, J., Holyfield, C. & McNaughton, D. (2018) Effects of dynamic text in AAC app on sight words reading for individuals with autism spectrum disorder, Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 34:2, 143-154

It has been well documented that many individuals with complex communication needs who use augmentative and alternative communication enter adulthood without functional literacy skills. Learning sight words is one skill that is necessary to ensure successful literacy learning. AAC systems commonly use static pairing of text and symbol but this may not support sight word learning as learners may only focus on the known picture symbol and not the unknown text.

Learning to read is a complex skill, facilitated by the integration of (a) orthographic processing of the written text, (b) phonological processing of the spoken representation of the written text, (c) understanding of the meaning of the written word and (d) use of context to support learning. Caron et al developed the Transition to Literacy (T2L) software to provide an effective method of sight word instruction adapted to the needs of individuals with autism spectrum disorder with complex communication needs.

This study focused on school-aged participants with a diagnosis of ASD and complex communication needs. The researchers selected target sight word based on the game ‘Angry Birds’ as this was a shared interest for all participants. The target words selected were; no more than 10 letters in length, represented a range of semantic relations, imageable, had an initial letter shared with one other word in the 15 word set, were not read accurately by the participants at baseline and had the potential to be used during communicative interactions to expand the participants expressive communication. The T2L software was introduced using a 15 button graphics based grid display on a NOVA chat 12. Each button had a graphic symbol and label with the target word. When the button was activated, a dynamic presentation of the text appeared across the whole screen for 3 second paired with speech output before the text shrank back into the graphic symbol and disappeared.

The T2L software incorporates the principles of effective sight word learning by including (a) dynamic text to attract the learner’s visual attention to engage orthographic processing, (b) active linking of the written word to its spoken referent, (c) targeting of motivating and meaningful vocabulary known to the learner within the AAC display supporting meaning processing and (d) targeting of vocabulary within familiar contexts.

All participants demonstrated increased accuracy when reading sight words using communication software with T2L features during a highly structured task. In an effort to replicate the study’s outcomes, the new Chat software update for NOVA Chat, Chat Fusion and Liberator Rugged 7 includes ‘Pop Up Speech’. This feature includes display of animated text along with the spoken word when a button is selected. Text in motion draws the user’s visual attention to the word spoken by the button. When a button displays an image, animated text helps the user associate the text with the image. Combining animated text with speech output promotes understanding and development of literacy skills.

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