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A Rapid Prompting Method (RPM) letterboard with capacitive touch sensors & Bluetooth connectivity for enhanced functionality

The Rapid Prompting Method (RPM) is a technique developed by Soma Mukhopadhyay as a vehicle for non-verbal autistic children (and adults) to communicate and pursue an academic education. In effect, it unlocks them from a silent isolation to prove they are intellectually intact. It’s life-changing for both the autistic child and for the people who love them. I know. I’m the (amazed, proud, ecstatic) parent of one (and the amazed, proud & ecstatic parent of another, neurotypical giant that is his brother).

The method is not without its controversy, proving that when you know one autistic person, you know ONE autistic person: every case is different and some things work for some and not for others. It worked for my son. More on RPM here: A great success story in the LA Times:

RPM uses a letterboard for the student to spell and communicate during the interaction with the facilitator.

Eventually, a few students can move to something like an iPad (like the LA Times story mentioned above). The transition is not easy nor straightforward. There are a lot of sensory variables involved. Practice, patience and consistency are only a small portion of what’s required.

So, to assist in that transition, I built this letterboard that acts as a Bluetooth keyboard, sending its output to the Notes app on an iPad which in turn provides typing feedback of each character (and word) through its Spoken Content function.

The hope is that, by adding visual and audio feedback (i.e. each letter has a distinct shape and sound, thus a distinct sensory fingerprint), this letterboard will assist the RPM facilitator’s efforts. Version 2 of my RPM Letterboard will include haptic feedback (already on the design phase) for a third distinct fingerprint of each letter.”

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