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A brush strokeAce Centre blog

Live Translation in AAC Apps


We know that there is a lot to consider when translating an AAC vocabulary and that running it through Google Translate doesn’t always yield the best results. Intricacies in language and meaning in context are just some of the things to consider which relies on a native speaker looking at the bigger picture to get accurate translations and meaning.

On the other hand, we also acknowledge that there are times when we all need to communicate in a language we do not know or speak and that automated translation can be a lifeline.  AAC users are no exception, as this example use case illustrates:

Adam is natively Chinese speaking, knows very little English and can only understand some simplified language presented to him. After a brain stem stroke, he is in a 24-hour care facility. He is visited by family and friends who he converses with using his AAC system in his language. But there are no native Chinese speakers in the care home and day to day Adam needs to communicate and request support for his care needs in a language he does not know. Therefore, a translation tool is the best solution to support him in communicating in Chinese which can be relayed into English so his carers will understand him.

To support Adam and other AAC users with similar needs, we have made a live translation tool to use in Windows-based AAC apps. It will take the text a client writes in their AAC system using their native language, quickly translates it to another language, and then speak it out using the correct voice.


In theory this will work in any Windows AAC app but we have only tested it with Communicator 5 by Tobii Dynavox and Grid3 by Smartbox so far.  It take a little bit of programming to get this up and running, click here to find the support and tools you will need.

We’re in the early days with this project. If you want to learn more about how it progresses click here to sign up to our newsletter and updates from Ace Centre Research and Innovation on this project as well as future ones!