The Personal Communicator Macintosh CD-ROMis priced at $99.00, plus shipping and handling. 8MB of RAM is required.
To order call: 517.353.9229 or fax: 517.432.2650
At any point in the software, children can choose to have the computer speak a word, sentence, paragraph or story they have written previously, or one they have just selected. Rather than being assigned random lists of vocabulary words to memorize, they will be learning new vocabulary in a "discovery learning" mode, by consulting the dictionary/thesaurus when they are searching for a word they want to either use in a dialogue or to know about.
In addition to using the dictionary/thesaurus to seek specific words, the Personal Communicator will also serve as a tool to explore relationships within the ASL language and between ASL and English, both for deaf children and their hearing associates.
Form as well as functionality is important in the design of the Personal Communicator. We want to create software that is appealing and fun to use, to help motivate deaf children and their hearing peers to want to communicate with it. Children will be able to choose from an expanding set of graphical user interfaces, all of which share identical functionality. So far, three screen designs have been crafted: a basic classroom environment which will be the default, perhaps easiest for learning; "Jurassic Communicator" featuring a prehistoric, cave person look and feel; and "Space Tech", a futuristic spaceship environment.
We include sign and speech synthesis instead of just speech synthesis because the Personal Communicator is not just a talking computer but a tool which along the way will hopefully help deaf and hearing children appreciate the value and richness of ASL as well as spoken and written text. In a sense, the Personal Communicator is a celebration of language in many forms.
The four primary interlinked components of the Personal Communicator include the Chat Screen for communication with others, the English-ASL Dictionary for looking up word meanings and signs, the conversation Recorder for accessing the previous week's conversations, and the Writer's Notebook for writing, saving, signing and speaking stories and correspondence.
There is also a Sign Language Playroom for people to not only have fun, but learn new signs along the way. Included in the playroom are clickable objects that react to the user with audio and video feedback, and give the user the sign for the object they selected.