CoughDrop Blog

Every voice should be heard. Let's talk about how to make that happen.

Unlocking AAC board files

A big requirement when we started this project was that we make everything as open as reasonably possible. As we started to learn from people how things have been done in the past in the AAC market, it became obvious that there were barriers preventing the community from being as strong as it could be.


alice in wonderland unlocking a door
Locks can be really frustrating
One of the barriers is the "locking" of user-generated content that happens when you can't export your changes, or when the export is in a proprietary file format. Some people told us that some file formats even have usage restrictions tied to the product's terms of use. Having your files all tied up makes it harder to share them with others or reuse them yourself, especially if you end up switching from one app to another.

There are all sorts of great opportunities for AAC users to build on one another's shoulders, but that can't happen until sharing and collaboration is easy and painless. This is why we built CoughDrop to be both an AAC speech app and also a communication board repository -- to make it easier to share and reuse work that's already been done.

On top of that, we're today releasing an open-licensed file format called .obf (that stands for "Open Board Format"). The idea is to create a file format that doesn't have any usage restrictions and is easy for multiple vendors to implement in their apps. That way we can get past the app-specific limitations and collaborate on interesting and innovation solutions for everyone regardless of what AAC app or device works best for them. Fortunately we're not the only ones that think this is a good idea.

If you're interested in learning more about .obf or want to get involved, check it out at openboardformat.org. Also please spread the word on Facebook, Twitter and everywhere else, and contact your current vendor to ask them about adding support for .obf. Let's keep opening doors!