Z2024 - Combating Selective Mutism with a Customizable Way


Rileigh Kearney

Document Type


Publication Date



Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices assist people experiencing challenges with speech or language. Social anxiety is an intense and persistent fear of being watched and judged by others, and this fear consumes the person's life, affecting work, school, and relationships. Some individuals with social anxiety or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) experience selective mutism (SM), an anxiety disorder rendering a person unable to speak in certain social situations. An estimated 1.3 percent of Americans, about 4 million people, cannot reliably meet their daily communication needs using natural speech, and the prevalence and complexity of communication disorders increases with age. There is a large demand for AAC devices, yet currently available devices are often large and expensive. Common AAC technologies include the Tobii Dynavox, Prentrom’s Accent series, and iPad apps. While many of these are durable, portable, and waterproof, they can be very challenging to learn how to use and do not provide on-demand communication. The goal of this project is to develop an innovative, touch-sensing, lightweight, wearable, and customizable AAC, to meet the specific needs of people experiencing SM or other communication challenges during their everyday activities. This new AAC also supports those learning a new language, such as ESL learners. Text outputs on the incorporated screen are customizable for user’s preferences for a given situation.

Faculty Mentor

Nicole Urban, Ph.D.

Academic Discipline

College of Arts & Sciences

This document is currently not available here.