Hugh's phone app helps those with speech difficulties

LOCAL businessman Hugh McEvoy's love of mobile phones has provided for his family for years but now it is also helping his son deal with his speech difficulties.

The Talk To Me mobile phone owner has developed a new app for the iPhone called TalkForMe, a customised tool to help those with speech difficulties get their voices heard.

TalkforMe was developed by Hugh after his son, Karl, found speech was becoming more difficult following a childhood diagnosis of dystonia – a neurological muscle-contraction disorder that can affect people of any age.

The app – which is on sale from the Apple app store for n4.99 - allows people communicate by using images that they take with their iPhone and sentences that they type in which are then spoken in over 30 languages.

It has already helped 21-year-old Karl communicate better with his family and Hugh insists it has made a major difference already to his son's confidence.

"When Karl was four he was disagnosed with a rare disability called Dystonia, which over 3,000 people in Ireland suffer from. There are all different types of it but Karl's is generalised.

"It left him with a tremor like someone with Parkinson's but over the last few years that has spread into his tongue and affected his speech. It got so bad that unless you knew him then you wouldn't understand what he was saying.

"We both have iPhones and some of the apps on it are amazing so I came up with the idea for TalkforMe and went to a company in Dublin to help me develop it. It went live on the app store on August 11 but it's only now that we're starting to promote it

"Karl uses it every day and there is huge potential for it to be used by other people who have difficulty with verbal communication as well," he said.

The app can be completely customised to the needs of the individual who uses it.

The basic idea is that the user can add as many pictures and sentences as they wish and organise them into relevant groups.

The user can call on this vast library of content to communicate their message to another person by just clicking on an item which consists of a picture and a sentence and pressing the 'talk' button.

This sentence is then spoken and the user can choose different languages to repeat the sentence depending on their location.

While the app was developed with Karl's dystonia in mind, Hugh insisted it could be of benefit to everyone.


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