Primary School: Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV) Tharthari, Block- Tharthari, District: Nalanda Bihar, India, 17 May 2013 Girls with hearing disability react outside their classroom

Graduate: Ninaad, Jellow Communicator a friendly Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) solution

The UNICEF Innovation Fund is proud to see portfolio member,  Ninaad, graduate. They’ve come a long way – from numerous product iterations to deep diving into understanding their ecosystem better, strengthening their business model, and gearing up to take their solution to market. They’re now ready to collaborate at a larger scale – as they find new pathways to work with partners, investors, and the open source community

 

 

REFLECTIONS FROM THE TEAM 

 

Jellow Communicator is a friendly Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) solution that uses icons to aid communication in people learning to speak or with difficulty with speech and language. Jellow is conceived and designed exclusively for children or early learners. The easy-to-learn interface and visually appealing icons of Jellow make it an ideal solution for beginner-level communicators. users can click a category icon followed by an expressive icon to communicate their needs and likes/dislikes with the surrounding world.

 

Our system is also unique due to its conception and availability in a variety of media/formats such as flashcards, E-book, desktop app, Android and iOS app to cater to the needs of users of differing abilities. Jellow can be used by therapists, teachers, and parents/caregivers working with children with communication difficulties. 

 

THE CHALLENGE

 

Worldwide there are more than 140 million children who have some form of Speech and language impairment and many do not have access to rehabilitation professionals as there are very few in numbers and available only in cities.

 

The AACs available in India used by the professionals in therapeutic settings tend to come from western applications and are not culturally relevant to the population in India. Therefore a culturally appropriate AAC system was needed to break this barrier. 

 

KEY MILESTONES

 

 A novel Emotional Language Protocol (ELP) was conceived in order to enhance the language ability of Jellow. ELP represents the 6 core expressive icons of the interface. Using these core buttons along with the central category buttons, the child can communicate their likes, dislikes, and needs with others.

Jellow interface

Currently, Jellow has a collection of over 3000 graphic icons specifically designed to be child-friendly and easy to understand. In addition, Jellow has a vocabulary of over 10,000 pre-made sentences addressing a child's needs. These pre-made sentences make it easy for a child who cannot form accurate sentences to communicate. Jellow Communicator is customised to a socio-cultural context, depending on the language you choose the relevant food, festivals and events are loaded to the application. Jellow Communicator in now available in 4 languages. These are English (Indian, UK, USA, Australian), Hindi, Marathi, Bengali and Tamil/Gujarati (coming soon)

 

All these resources are available for download free of cost from our website www.jellow.org/.  

 

USER TESTING

 

The user-friendly interface along with the graphic icons and the vocabulary were designed iteratively over a period of two years with constant feedback from parents, speech therapists, teachers and children.Take for example, Kavita, a child who learned to use the toilet within two weeks with help of Jellow Communicator’s sequenced daily activities. And Jonathan, a young boy with quadriplegia is using Jellow to communicate his needs, doing so with a head-mounted pointer. 

 

Through various instances conducting user testing, we realised that children use Jellow in unique ways to suit their needs.

The constant feedback and interactions with our users is essential for the overall development of our product.

We have not yet enabled our payment gateway as we are still in the process of building and enlarging the user base. Currently the rate of monthly new users is 600 which we expect to increase to 5000 in a year’s time. At this time, Jellow Communicators basic version is available for free on app stores and on our website, it is our intention to introduce a premium version with additional services in the next few months.

Sulekha (R), and Pratima (M) (hearing impaired) communicate during a class at a bridge school in ,KGBV ( Tharthari), May 17, 2013.

UNICEF let us have the world view, made us aware of the goals that we need to set and achieve; more than anything else made us more confident about our product.

OPEN SOURCE

The graphic icons developed as part of Jellow project are part of the open symbol source and the codes are uploaded on GitHub. Being open source has helped Jellow expand it reach, now we have contributors from around the world translating Jellow into other languages.

 

WAY AHEAD 

 

Jellow has mainly three primary goals to achieve in the next year, those being:

 

  • To spread Jellow – we will do promotions and reach out to the user group through governmental organisations and NGOs

  • To translate Jellow into as many other languages as possible – first Indian Languages, Secondly East Asian languages thereafter languages from across the globe

  • To gamify Jellow- we realised that Jellow can be learnt easily if we can include some games our next frontier is integrating more games in the product. 

 

UNICEF Innovation Fund has been a blessing for Jellow. It came at the right time with the right advice, mentorship and support. UNICEF let us have the world view, made us aware of the goals that we need to set and achieve; more than anything else made us more confident about our product.

Ravi Pooviah

04 October 2019