Dogmatic Speech Apps

I’ve mentioned here before that I use an Ipad instead of a dedicated communication aid these days. While they aren’t specifically designed to assist people with communication like my Lightwriter was, I find using the Ipad has various other advantages: having one on my lap when I’m out and about is extremely useful, allowing me to do anything from make notes to – when I’m connected to a Wifi network – checking my Email or Facebook. I find it practical and handy. The app I use for communication is called Proloquo2go, very kindly installed for me by the teachers I work with at school. It’s a very cool app which I can’t really fault. It has both minspeak and ordinary typing modes, the latter of which I use. It has a very good prediction system, meaning I can say what I need to quite quickly.

However, I have noticed something odd (and slightly disturbing) about it which I just want to note: the prediction system seems to have a religious, christian bias. It constantly suggests christian words for me. That is, when I type J it always suggests ‘Jesus’; when I type G it suggests ‘God’ and so on, irrespective of the context. Perhaps I shouldn’t mind, but as an atheist I resent having religion imposed upon me in this way. The app seems to assume that it’s users want to talk about religion and religious figures they might not believe in – I certainly don’t. Of course, this is only a minor issue, and no reason to start looking for another speech app; but I really don”t like the way in which whoever designed this speech app chose to force their faith upon whoever uses it.

7 thoughts on “Dogmatic Speech Apps

    1. I know proloquo. It’s definitely not minspeak. Minspeak is more than just symbols; it’s more like a whole language using multi meaning symbols.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Hey Matthew, 

    Came across your blog as I work at AssistiveWare, the makers of Proloquo2Go, and I think I can offer some clarity here. 
Our word prediction system pays attention to capital letters when they are typed in the middle of a sentence (rather than at the beginning) and gives priority to words always written with a capital letter. God is one of those words, as are George and German. Same for Jesus, Jack, Joe, and John. The fact that God and Jesus appear as suggestions has nothing to do with a religious bias of Proloquo2Go, but is due to these words being typically written with a capital and very common in the English language. Our prediction dictionaries are based on corpus data that reflects the most commonly used words.
    
If ‘Learning’ is turned on and you never pick God or Jesus, and instead choose other words starting with the same letter, the prediction system will automatically start suggesting different words over time.
    
Hope this is useful but I’ll drop you a message to continue the conversation in case you have any other questions.

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    1. Thankyou very much for the clarification mate. I’ll try to turn ‘Learning’ on and see if that has an effect. It just struck me as very odd that religious words kept being suggested.

      Like

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