By Adam Droscha
Staff Writer
Jake Roys
Sometimes it takes the most difficult circumstances in a person’s life to move him or her to action. A person may not realize the need for something new until the difficult time has already passed, or until he or she realizes that a vital tool is incomplete or missing entirely. This is the story of Jake Roys and the app he developed after his grandfather passed away from throat and jaw cancer.
Roys’ grandfather was having trouble communicating after he had several parts of his throat removed because of his cancer. The family tried several methods and means for him to communicate, but none of them worked as well as necessary. They tried the simple pen and paper method for some time, but eventually it exhausted Roys’ grandfather. The family soon found an app that played audio of what their grandfather typed on a keyboard, yet that still proved difficult.
When his grandfather passed, Roys was still bothered that there wasn’t a simpler, easy to maneuver app that vocally impaired patients could use while recovering from surgeries. An idea came to him, however, when he remembered the method of a speech pathologist, Becca Bailey. She used a color-coded board with several, simple words and phrases, which allowed vocally impaired people to more easily communicate their needs and wants.
Roys began developing an app that was similar to the board used by Bailey, and on Thursday, Nov. 17, he released an app called Speech Assist. The app is a digital touch board that has several simple words and phrases. The app was designed with hospital patients in mind, so some of the main phrases include “I am” or “I need” statements, followed by adjectives and nouns. There’s also a word bank to choose from, as well as a selection of complete sentences like “I need to go to the bathroom,” and “I need to be adjusted in the bed.” There is also an option to simply type an original thought or sentence.
After being approved by Apple, Roys immediately posted a link to the app on Facebook. He’s had a range of feedback, and he continues to welcome it. He wants a lot of input and constructive criticism so that he can continue to make it better and add to newer versions. His Facebook post was shared by family and friends and a few people have even purchased the app. In his original post, Roys commented, “Short of unconditional love, there’s nothing more intimate and inherently necessary than basic communication.”
While Roys acknowledges there are many ways the app could be improved, as well as other apps available for the same purpose, he believes he’s done the best with simplicity. His app is easy to understand, easy to maneuver, and easy to use. It functions well and with great clarity.
“Helping people is my only objective. There will always be non-vocal people in the world, and giving them a voice is my primary objective,” said Roys.
Those wishing to find and download the app can visit, or find it in the App Store. Speech Assist costs $1.