Hailey Soares

Document Type


Publication Date



Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices assist individuals with speech difficulties. Hard of hearing or English as a second language individuals may benefit from an AAC device. There is a need for assistive communication as two to three children out of every thousand born in the U.S. are deaf or hearing impaired, and 15% of adults are diagnosed with hearing impairments. Moreover, 10% of K-12 student enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools were represented by English learners (ELs) in Fall of 2020. There is a prevalent amount of ELs experiencing selective mutism in the United States requiring assistance as SM prevalence in the general child population was 7.1 per 1,000 in the United States in 2002. AAC devices such as Tobii Dynavox and Lightwriter SL50 are expensive and not discrete. Previous devices typically relied on smartphones or tablets, requiring users to have devices out consistently. This is obtrusive and more noticeable than preferred. In daily life, HOH and ESL individuals need a portable, discrete, and cost-efficient device. Our goal was to develop a portable, customizable, and practical AAC device in the form of bag straps. Customization of discrete buttons on the straps gave users preferred phrases for various situations where they faced difficulty communicating. These features combined with the portability of a bag strap, enhanced user enjoyment and eliminated inconveniences of the typical obtrusive AAC device.

Faculty Mentor

Nicole Urban, Ph.D.

Academic Discipline




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