A speech-generating device (SGD) is a type of durable medical equipment (DME) defined as an augmentative or alternative communication aid that provides individuals who have severe expressive speech disability the ability to meet functional speaking though audible generation of words and possibly written text or phone messaging. Severe expressive speech disability is an inability, or the limited ability, to communicate daily wants, needs, and thoughts via the spoken or printed word. This disability is diagnosed by a speech language pathologist (SLP) during a formal evaluation. The SLP determines which type of SGD would be most beneficial to the individual.
Speech produced by SGDs can be either digitized or synthesized. Digitized SGDs, sometimes referred to as devices with "whole message" speech output, utilize words and phrases that have been recorded for playback upon command of the user. Because the messages are pre-recorded, digitized SGDs limit an individual's fringe vocabulary (user-specific words that allow for personalized expression). In contrast, synthesized SGDs translate the user’s input into device-generated speech. Synthesized SGDs often have "text to speech" capabilities that allow the user to create messages with extensive fringe vocabulary.
Speech-generating software programs enable a laptop computer, desktop computer, or handheld computer to function as an SGD; therefore, speech-generating software programs can also be defined as SGDs. Upgrades to SGDs and/or speech-generating software programs functioning as SGDs are subsequent versions of the existing software program or memory modules that may include enhanced features or other improvements.
The two ways of accessing SGDs are direct selection and indirect selection. Direct selection requires physical contact with the device to produce communication; therefore, it is only appropriate for individuals who have reliable fine motor skills. Indirect selection is better suited for individuals who may have reliable gross motor skills but lack reliable fine motor skills. Indirect selection allows for message formulation through access devices such as, but not limited to, a head mouse, joysticks, infrared pointers, headpointers, lightpointers, switches, wheelchair integration devices, and scanning devices.
Mounting systems may be necessary to position the SGD, switches, and other access devices within reach of the individual. Accessories for SGDs include, but are not limited to, access devices, batteries, battery chargers, and adapters.
NON-SPEECH-GENERATING DEVICES (LOW TECH COMMUNICATION DEVICES)
Non-speech-generating devices are exclusive low technology devices where language selections are interpreted by the communication partner, without the benefit of auditory output. These communication devices do not need batteries or the use of electronics. An example of a non-speech-generating device is a communication board, which is a single- or multi-page display with letters, words, and/or symbols. Non-speech-generating devices are not defined as DME and do not qualify as a digitized or synthesized SGD.
E2506 Speech generating device, digitized speech, using prerecorded messages, greater than 40 minutes recording time
E2508 Speech generating device, synthesized speech, requiring message formulation by spelling and access by physical contact with the device
E2510 Speech generating device, synthesized speech, permitting multiple methods of message formulation and multiple methods of device access