University of Regina graduate creates speech therapy apps
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University of Regina graduate Robert Harrison is making waves in the technology world as the brains behind two new apps designed to assist young students grappling with severe speech issues.
With his speech therapist wife, Harrison recently completed work on the SpeakColors and SpeechCards applications, both of which have become available at the Apple App store.
“Both (apps) are designed for helping children improve their speech and language skills — particularly children with autism, Down syndrome and special needs,” Harrison, a resident of San Diego, Calif., told Metro.
Operating much like traditional flashcards, the apps provide audio recordings correctly pronouncing certain words, complete with visual cues.
Students are also able to record themselves pronouncing the words, which allows teachers and speech therapists to conveniently chart growth.
“This is very revolutionary for speech therapists because they don’t have to carry around a bag of (flashcards),” said the 33-year-old software developer.
“They only have to go into a therapy session with just an iPad, and all the information is contained right in that device.”
Originally from Cambi, Sask., Harrison moved to Regina to attend school in the late 1990s.
After receiving a bachelor’s degree in computer science, he completed a master’s degree in electronic systems engineering at the U of R in 2008 before going to Calgary for work.
Harrison’s job soon took him south to San Diego, where he met his wife and decided to strike out on his own — investing about $20,000 of his own money to develop the apps.
The reception from app users has been positive, Harrison added.
“We’ve had really great feedback,” he said. “We've had quite a few (positive) reviews.”