The Story of Pic-A-Talk

Pic-A-Talk is a picture exchange communication system in a mobile application. It consists of images of words that are easily identifiable by any user. It helps children with communication disabilities express themselves and connect with the people around them.

Pic-A-Talk started out as a school project where we were asked to come up with a solution to any pain or struggle we experience on a daily basis using technology. As someone who was content with her life, I was stumped. So I asked my mother for advice and she put me in the shoes of my little sister, Lea.

Lea was diagnosed with autism and speech apraxia when she was around 2 years old. This made it difficult for her to communicate with us verbally. She would usually just point in thin air and try to articulate what she wants. It takes a lot of patience to decipher this--patience that sometimes none of us would have. This becomes very frustrating for the family, but even more so for her. Sometimes, this frustration manifested into several temper tantrums.

Thankfully, This wasn’t always the case. A few years ago, she found a way to effectively communicate her wants and needs with us: Google. Lea can’t read but she can memorize the arrangement of letters found in these words. She would google the names found on food wrappers or containers and show us the image. This was very effective because it took out the delay in understanding her. We could immediately provide for her and over time, she eventually learned how to articulate these words that she’s been searching. Even when our internet got cut off, she started writing her requests on a piece of paper instead since she couldn’t use Google.

Her idea became the inspiration for Pic-A-Talk, a picture exchange communication system in a mobile application. The fact that she was the one struggling yet she still found a way to solve her own problem, made me realize that not everyone may come up with a solution. So I wanted to make this solution accessible to anyone who needs it.

This is why I developed Pic-A-Talk. It’s a mobile application that helps non-verbal kids in communicating their needs. It’s very simple, complete with pictures to make it easier for kids to understand and use. All they have to do is click on a category and find a picture that best expresses what they want or need in the current situation. In a way, fewer tantrums are dealt with and more communication takes place. It’s a step forward in dealing with important issues such as this, as kids with special needs require more attention, love, and care than most. This is my way of showing how much I want to help kids like this, and with Pic-A-Talk, they can now speak with pics!

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