Speakbook is a simple communication tool that was developed by Patrick Joyce who had Motor Neurone Disease (MND / ALS). Understanding the progression of his condition and the needs of others, Patrick realised that there was a need for a cheap and easy-to-use way of communicating for people who are able to read and spell and can move their eyes, but struggle to point with their finger or hand.
Speakbook is a template for a communication book which you populate with your own messages. It also provides access to an alphabet chart. While originally developed with MND in mind, Speakbook can be useful for anyone who is literate and requires a communication tool that they can access with their eyes.
After Patrick sadly passed away, Ace has been working with his family to make Speakbooks available to all and encourage others to adapt and personalise this system and then, in turn, share these with others.
We have seen first-hand and time and time again the impact of Patrick’s Speakbooks. Using his own experiences and desire to be as independent as possible he developed a tool which is instinctive, effective and personal.
How a Speakbook works
Speakbook is held by the communication partner (the person with whom you are communicating) and eye contact is made through the central window. You then point with your eyes to the message that you wish to communicate. It is surprisingly easy for the communication partner to follow what you are looking at.
To increase the amount you can say with your eyes, Speakbook makes use of a form of encoding. This means that there is more than one set of messages on each page. To communicate a message, you first look at the set of messages that contains your target word or phrase.
You then clarify which of the set of messages you are communicating by looking at the coloured shape that matches the background colour of your message. It sounds complicated but it’s actually really straightforward. Speakbooks are intuitive, individual and effective. Patrick and David explain how it works in this video.
Make it your own
Ace Centre was not involved in any way in the development of Speakbook. However, we place huge value on non-electronic means of communicating and have seen first-hand the impact Speakbooks have in people’s lives. When Patrick passed away we wanted to ensure his work, impact and inspiration continued. With the permission and support of Patrick’s family we’ve created a space for people to continue access and download Speakbook free of charge
Speakbook can be filled in by you in any language. However, the instructions and a few keywords within the book are in English. Patrick was keen to see translations of the Speakbook produced and shared in as many languages as possible, and we would like to carry on with his work.
We are proud to license Speakbooks under the Creative Commons Attributions License, meaning that the project is open to the wider community, allowing for ongoing improvements and long lasting solutions. With your help, we can make Speakbooks available to all and build on Patrick’s legacy.
Can you help?
Please contact us if you are intending to (or have already!) translate the Speakbook so that we can share this with others. As soon as translations are available we will make them available on this site.
You may download Speakbook free of charge using the links below. You can have it printed at your local copy shop – or print it yourself at home. Ideally, it should be printed on the wipeable card or laminated.
You may also alter it, distribute it and sell it under the terms of the following licence Creative Commons Attributions – ShareALike 4.0 International License. This means that we are proud to offer an open project to allow everyone access to amend, share and translate Speakbook and share Patrick’s message wider. If you do make, sell or distribute your own version of Speakbook, please let us know and we can tell others about it through this website.
How long will it take me to learn Speakbook? Most users find Speakbook quick and easy to learn – less than a minute usually. Filling in the book to completely suit your needs will take a lot longer, but you should have a basic, usable set of phrases within half an hour or so.
I wear glasses, can I use Speakbook? Yes, no problem, your partner should still be able to follow your eye movements without any trouble.
You are free to: Share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format Adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially.
What other communication options are available? Speakbook is just one approach to developing and using a communication book. There are lots of different communication tools out there, both paper-based and electronic – see acecentre.org.uk/getting-started/more-about-communication-aids to get started. We would encourage you to work with your Speech and Language Therapist to identify the tools that are most suitable for you and your communication needs. You are of course welcome to contact Ace Centre for support and information.
I want to help and create a version in a different language or modify it – how can I share this? Great! We would love to hear about your changes. You can add and improve translations by editing them here. If you have any problems please let us know.
How are you hosting these files and managing the development?
The project files are compiled in VueJS and built by Netlify servers. As the project is under an open licence Netlify kindly offer us this for free! How awesome?!