Voz Box

Project Vive is a social tech company creating low-cost, open-source, multi-sensor speech generating devices to give a voice to people with disabilities.

Project Vive created the Voz Box system: An affordable, smart, and adaptable speech generating device (SGD) that addresses the unmet need for every voice to be heard. The Voz Box is uniquely positioned to be the first low-cost SGD that is robust, open-source, and built for both developed and emerging countries. The Project Vive team and partners include: engineers, disability professionals, programmers, seasoned entrepreneurs, manufacturing experts, SGD users, teachers, physicians, researchers, and speech language pathologists (SLPs). All share a common goal of giving a voice to the voiceless through accessible assistive technology.

Since its inception, Project Vive’s core technology has gone through five iterations and the team has logged hundreds of hours of user-centered design and co-creation to create an accessible SGD for people with disabilities.

Our moon shot is to help give a voice to a million people by 2023. We will do this with not only the Voz Box, but through assistive technology DIY videos, empowering makers, and open-source technology to help get emerging countries started in implementing assistive technology solutions.

The Challenge

It is estimated that 1-2% of the global population (~114 million people) truly need assistive technology to communicate effectively (Bunning, Gona, Newton, & Hartley, 2014). According to UNICEF, people with disabilities are one of the most marginalized and excluded groups in society due to negative attitudes and lack of adequate policies/legislation. Disability is a universal phenomenon.  However, individuals with disabilities are overrepresented in developing or low- and middle-income countries (LMICs; Maloni et al., 2010). An estimated 85% of children with disabilities live in these LMICs (Helander, 1993). Communication disabilities due to cerebral palsy, ALS, autism and others, can prevent individuals from full participation in society and create barriers of access to education, healthcare, social activities, employment, information and communication technology (ICT), and all other activities that rely on successful communication. Across the world there is a lack of access to speech generating devices because of deficiencies in funding, training, maintenance and input sensor options for diverse abilities.

Project Aims

Project Vive’s technology, Voz Box, integrates existing smartphone/tablet technology that has already scaled across much of the developing world. The Voz Box is the core of the system and acts as the smart docking station that transforms a commercially available tablet into a fully connected, powerful SGD that easily adapts to the abilities of the individual. Project Vive has designed and user-tested eight assistive technology sensors, including wearables, that can detect small movements such as finger, elbow, knee, foot and eye movement. By having one product that has personalizable control for use and language, production can be scaled to give more access to people with disabilities, faster.

  •  To provide accessible speech generating devices (SGDs) that offer powerful analytics to enable effective assistive technology decisions to empower with disabilities to participate, live out their life goals, and have their voices heard.

  •  Create an open-source ecosystem that promotes contributions from makers, students, university researchers, NGOs and governmental organizations to ensure assistive technology is accessible to everyone.

  •  Create employment opportunities for people with disabilities, empower this untapped population of natural global problem solvers, and contribute to sustainable local economic growth.

Predicted Outcomes

•    Give people with communication disabilities the power to control, communicate, and connect with the world.
•    Give a voice through accessible speech generating devices and provide pathways to education, healthcare, information and communication technology (ICT), skill development, and our digital economy.
•    Engage children and adults with disabilities to express views and to participate in decisions affecting their lives.
•    Empower people with disabilities to participate, become productive members of their communities, advocate, and break the disability stigma that currently exists.
•    Create inclusive economic opportunities with a focus on the most vulnerable among people with disabilities, such as woman and children.

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