Alma, Ark. – April 26, 2012 – InvoTek, Inc., a research and development company in Alma, Arkansas, recently received a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Institutes of Health. The grant will fund the creation of a speech generation tool giving young children with disabilities a fun and interactive way to learn and practice communication skills. PlayTalk is a collaboration of InvoTek and researchers at Penn State University.
“Approximately 675,000 children in the United States have disabilities that slow their speech development and consequently are at high risk in all aspects of development,” said Tom Jakobs, InvoTek’s president. “PlayTalk is exceptional in that it promotes communication, language, and cognitive development by these young children more effectively than other devices on the market today.”
PlayTalk uses developmentally appropriate pictures, organization, and navigational techniques so it is easy for young children to understand and use. It also enables adults to add communication displays and language concepts easily and quickly while interacting with the child, without disturbing the fun and learning.
In the Phase I study, PlayTalk was fast and easy for parents and professionals to learn and use. It also provided access to vocabulary that was more responsive to the children’s immediate needs. Phase II integrates new, innovative features available for various platforms, including iPads and other tablet computers.
Founded in 1988, InvoTek specializes in applying technology to the needs of people with severe disabilities. InvoTek also established the Be Extraordinary program in cooperation with the Arkansas Spinal Cord Commission. The program identifies people with severe disabilities who want to accomplish a life goal. The goal can be wide ranging -- improved participation in their health care, access to books, better communication with family or friends, the ability to advocate on their own behalf, or accomplish an educational or vocational goal. Be Extraordinary uses tax-deductible contributions from generous donors to fund these projects.