Our Journey

As the founders of urTalker, we are passionate about communication technology because we live it. Our son Nolan, was born 3 months premature and spent his first year in the NICU of various hospitals. When Nolan came home after that first year, he still had a g-tube for feeding, had a tracheotomy to support his breathing,legally blind from ROP, and not mobile due to his premature birth. Thanks to some great early childhood intervention, Nolan had his trach removed at age 3 and began to walk at age 4. Nolan is now 10yrs old and still has his G-Tube for feeding and has yet to speak any words other than some basic gutteral sounds.

Throughout Nolan’s life we have encouraged and supported a variety of communication methods and we can honestly say we have tried just about everything. We leveraged Big Macs early on for simple interactions or to respond to direct questions. We used laminate cards for various toys and activities using different fabrics or colors so he could understand what they were with his limited vision. We purchased a wide range of educational toys that allowed for simple statements, alphabet, numbers and colors. Our favorite product line for this is LeapFrog. Nolan loves their products and our favorite by far is Baby Tad as that was the first time he told us “I Love You” via the kiss heart on Tad’s cheek. As Nolan progressed we realized he needed more advanced communication devices because it was clear to us he knew what he wanted, or wanted to say,he just needed the tools to let him speak.

As parents we immediately began to research communication devices and became excited and disappointed at the same time. We found some great communication devices, but they started at $8,000 and the one we really wanted was $15,000. Since this was not an expense we could afford we went through the school and insurance to see what could be done. After a year of waiting for a used device to become available we decided to invest in our own communication app, urTalker. We came to this thought through Nolans use of his Moms iPhone. Everytime Nolan’s mom would play music on her iPhone Nolan would grab it from her and begin changing the music to something he liked. He quickly learned how to swipe and press play/pause even with his limited vision. We figured if he can do that, we can build an app for him and get him his own device. That is how urTalker Lite came to be and we managed to develop the app and have our son using it before a school device became available.

As Nolan has gotten better with urTalker Lite and as we have gotten feedback for a more advanced app, urTalker Pro was developed. With urTalker Pro Nolan can very quickly communicate up to 16 items in a single screen and swipe that screen for another 16 and so on. He has gotten quick to build a partial sentence such as “I want” in the sentence builder and then use his toy category to complete the phrase “I want Piano”.

The joy our son had the first time he communicated was unbelievable. That feeling is seared in our memory and our hope is that we can bring that to other families and individuals that need a communication app.

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