New features added to the AVAZ app supporting people with communication disorders

Telenor grants 50 users free access to the app

One in 200 people have complex communication needs – that is, they are not able to make themselves understood verbally or in writing. The AVAZ app was designed to enable their accessible communication. The Hungarian version of the app now has new features thanks to a development effort supported by Telenor. As a result, the app offers a larger customizable glossary and words can now be inflected when selecting pictures. In addition, users can decide whether they want to use a female or a male voice to express their thoughts. Telenor is granting 50 users free access to the for-pay app.

The Hungarian version of AVAZ launched at the end of last year is a stop-gap solution for several thousands of children and adults with complex communication needs. Typically, they suffer from such a severe disorder of verbal and/or written communication (e.g. due to ALS, autism, central nervous system damage, aphasia and other conditions causing an inability to speak) that prevents them from communicating with their environment or makes such communication limited. State-of-the-art mobile devices can help them make themselves understood in an efficient and effective way. One in 200 people have complex communication needs. Their life quality heavily depends on the support they are provided to communicate with their environment.

The adaptation of the app initially developed in India to Hungarian has been initiated and coordinated by the family of ten-year-old Vince Németh. Vince’s parents, the Németh family, are working to develop the Hungarian version of the app together with the experts of ELTE Bárczi Gusztáv Faculty of Special Needs Education including linguists, psychologists and AAC experts, as well as the Little Heroes Foundation (Kis Hőseink Alapítvány). Telenor joined the initiative as a sponsor. Vince lives with AMC, a rare illness affecting his joints and muscles, and he has been using apps to communicate since kindergarten age.

Expanding vocabulary and more features

The app includes 45,000 pictures that can be used by individuals to create their own active vocabulary and compile sentences uttered in Hungarian. The app provides users with a personalized core vocabulary of up to 4,500 words that can be complemented using the pictures available in the app and own photos. Brand new individual glossaries can also be created. The Hungarian version includes the vocabulary of textbooks from the lower grades of primary school helping children unable to verbally communicate join integrated classroom education. AVAZ is the first Hungarian AAC app enabling users to inflect words when selecting pictures to create easy-to-understand messages without using letters.
The app can be used on any iOS-based device including mobile phones. Its Android version is expected to be launched this autumn. A two-week free trial version, as well as monthly and annual subscriptions are also available. This is especially useful for those who need the app on a temporary basis, e.g. for post-stroke rehabilitation.

Free access to 50 users

App development sponsor Telenor now gives 50 users free unlimited access to the app with the help of specialists working on the app (including schools, foundations, parent organizations, institutions). This initiative aims to gather experience and feedback from users with different levels of difficulties to help further improve the Hungarian version of AVAZ.

Free access for 5 users is still available: Developers of the app invite applications from users who need an app to support picture-based communication in everyday life and are willing to share their experience with the development team. Users can apply at before 15 September 2021. Their e-mail should include their personal data (name, address, phone number, e-mail address), a short introduction of up to 15 sentences and the life situation where they would use the app (at home, for work, at school).
AVAZ is available for download to iOS in AppStore:

How does AVAZ work?

AVAZ is a visual based alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) app using synthetised speech to provide a comprehensive picture- and text-based solution for verbal expression.
Using the pictures available in the Hungarian AVAZ app, users can personalize their own vocabulary and communication boards. They can assign a word or a sentence to each picture on the board. If the user clicks or taps on a picture, the words and sentences are pronounced aloud in Hungarian using a personalized voice. In addition to using pictures, users can also add words to their sentences typing on the keyboard and access inflections and picture and text predictions making app-based communication even more efficient and convenient.
The sentences created in the app and their visual representation can be copied to e-mail or any other messaging platform facilitating remote communication with friends, classmates or a speech therapist. During online meetings, participants can share their screen so that they can both see and listen to the sentences edited in AVAZ. With this feature, children and adults with complex communication needs can participate in online education or online meetings more actively.
To further simplify use, the app can also be managed using so-called assistive technology tools, e.g. switch buttons.