Anila Gonsalves, mom of two, remembers the feeling of fear, confusion and helplessness when she first learnt about her older son’s autism diagnosis. She watched her son struggle with natural speech and frustrations with learning.
“But we had to be determined if we needed results. Through multiple therapy sessions and meetings with specialists, I realized that my son like many others was more receptive to learning and communicating with visual cues.” says Anila.
Determined to make things better for her son, Anila searched for ways to make talking easier for anyone coping with communicative disorders.
Conversational breakdowns are common among people who are but not limited to hard of hearing, battling autism, or suffering from speech delays. After taking inspiration from the Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) methodology, Anila got the idea to develop a digital assistive tool that simplifies daily conversation called Fabulaa.
Fabulaa is a free to download iOS and Android app that helps users convey their message using speech to text, visual cues and hand drawn notes. Aside from making the app simple and easy to use, Anila also wanted to make the app accessible to all, “While researching and working on multiple therapies and tools, I realised that every parent wants to do what’s best for their children. But many of us are limited by high treatment costs and lack of accessibility. Technology plays a key part in treatment and learning and is a great enabler for People of Determination (POD).”
The app has a simple and easy to navigate interface and users have a few ways to get their message across. You can use speak directly into the app, which then converts to text that gets displayed on the screen or type out a phrase and have it voiced out aloud. Users can also draw or write out their message in the Scribbles tab.
For those that rely on visual cues, the cards tab lets you pick words corresponding to images to create phrases that are then voiced out. There’s also a handy feature that lets you save phrases in a phrase bank for quick and easy access later on.
Currently, Fabulaa supports English as well as Hindi, French, Spanish and Portuguese. Plans are underway to develop an Arabic version within the next 6 months.