In this edition of Avaz Megaphone, Aditi explores the importance of expression in all our lives. In doing so, she also discusses her experience as a beta tester for Avaz’s Expressive Tones feature.
Conversation: An Expressive Bridge
Conversations are bridges that connect people. They are a way for us to express ourselves. But here’s the thing with verbal expression. What you say is just a part of the deal. How you say it, is often the bigger and more important part. That’s usually the part that ensures the message is put across most effectively.
This, among other things, includes the intonation of the voice. After all, an angry person does not sound similar to someone who has just discovered that they have topped the class. Or say, someone who has found a dead cockroach in their meal! These situations, like many others, entail the perfect intonation of voice, besides making the choice of appropriate words. All of this to get the message across in the most effective manner possible.
Expressive Woes of an AAC User
Now cut to the situation of an AAC user finding a dead cockroach in their meal. Feeling grossly disgusted, they would type, ‘Eww, there is a dead cockroach in my meal!”. Only for the app to deadpan in its digital tone,
Jokes apart, many AAC users, including yours truly, have wished that the digital voice, which is our true voice, could intonate. That our voices could bring out the emotions behind the words. That we could truly express the way we wanted to.
Testing Expressive Tones
Naturally, I was quite excited when team Avaz approached me to test the beta version of the new Expressive Tones feature. As with most beta versions, it was good on the whole – with a few things to be tweaked and fine tuned. Team Avaz was quite responsive and incorporated the suggestions into the feature. This exciting feature is now available for use across platforms.
Avaz’s Expressive Tones has near appropriate expression and voice intonation for a variety of feelings. This includes happiness, sadness, anger, excitement and more. These emotions are represented by corresponding emojis, making it easier to choose the appropriate option. Overall, I found the feature easy to use.
Supports for Alexithymia
It has made communication for a seasoned user like me, a lot more authentic. That said, I believe emerging communicators can benefit from this feature too.
Alexithymia, or difficulty experiencing, identifying, and expressing emotions, is a reality for many autistics including AAC users. The process of thinking and choosing the appropriate expressive voice and hearing it speak out in a way that is closer to human expression might help in making the connection with one’s own emotions!
Technology is the biggest game changer for us nonspeaking autistics. I believe that this new feature has contributed to making my ‘verbal communication’ more authentic and effective. I am looking forward to more exciting options and features coming my way in this new year. Until next month, keep communicating and keep the faith!
Avaz Megaphone is a platform for neurodivergent individuals to express themselves through the written word. We accept opinion pieces, short stories and poetry. Authors of accepted works will receive an honorarium. To make a submission please email us on: firstname.lastname@example.org
Student & Writer
Aditi Sowmyanarayan is an eighteen year old who uses Avaz, a text to speech app, to communicate. She goes to Ishanya India Foundation, a special school in Bengaluru. Aditi is an avid blogger and an aspiring writer. She blogs on www.smallstepbigthought.blogspot.com
She can be reached on Instagram at writeaditi and on her Facebook page : small step big thought