Powerful, portable, off-the-shelf handheld devices, such as tablet based computers (i.e., iPad(®); Galaxy(®)) or portable multimedia players (i.e., iPod(®)), can be adapted to function as speech generating devices for individuals with autism spectrum disorders or related developmental disabilities. This paper reviews the research in this new and rapidly growing area and delineates an agenda for future investigations. In general, participants using these devices acquired verbal repertoires quickly. Studies comparing these devices to picture exchange or manual sign language found that acquisition was often quicker when using a tablet computer and that the vast majority of participants preferred using the device to picture exchange or manual sign language. Future research in interface design, user experience, and extended verbal repertoires is recommended.
Keywords: Autism spectrum disorder; Speech generating device; Verbal behavior; iPad; iPod.