The Avaz office is not exactly what one would call a noisy place. There isn’t really much scope for noise when the entire team is just a dozen-odd developers and researchers sitting hunched in front of computers. But on October 1, the office was quieter than usual.

A synthetic voice broke the silence. “Happy AAC Awareness Month.”

This was followed by a series of synthetic voices – “Thank you”, “Wish you the same”, “To you too” and so on.

On September 30, the entire team received an email from our marketing executive,

October, as we all know, is celebrated as the International AAC Awareness Month.

In the true spirit of the month, let us use only AAC devices to communicate tomorrow (Oct 1).
Let’s use Avaz for all communications within office. Even if you have to ask any of us for a ‘pen’, you will have to use Avaz.

The loser had to pay 10 bucks to a common pool which would later be used to buy samosas for the team. We were excited.

On October 1, the air in the office was different right from the beginning. We said our Hi’s and Hello’s using Avaz. And we waited patiently for the first person to slip.

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Our admin in-charge, sauntered in as usual, slapped a colleague on his back and said “How are you doing, sir?”

We all jumped up, devices in hand, searching frantically for the “Pay up” icon.

And thus began our day of nothing spoken, much communicated.

We fooled around with the device. We changed settings. We tried out new things. We fumbled and faltered a bit but we stuck to using AAC for the entire day.

While we always work on the product keeping the user’s best interest in mind, we often forget what it’s like to be an AAC user. On October 1, we spent the entire day as the user. Mostly, it was fun. We enjoyed the novelty of it all. But at times, we grew impatient with the time it took to communicate using a device. That’s when we realised, yet again, what it was like to be in the shoes of an AAC user.

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Later in the evening, after breaking our vow of silence, we had a quick meeting on our learnings from the day. Some of us suggested changes to existing features that would help the users. Others suggested new features. In the end, we all agreed to make this a monthly practice. Not just because it was fun. But also because it was a learning experience.

Our pursuit for smarter AAC apps continues…

October 6th, 2014

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