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UX/UI Design, UX Research, & Branding
In the United States, around 7.7% of children aged three to seventeen have been reported to experience speech, voice, language, or swallowing disorders in the past year.

Studies show that speech therapy stands out as the most effective remedy for these reported conditions.



UX/UI Design, UX Research, & Branding
The benefits of speech therapy extend beyond just speech correction. It can boost a child's self-assurance and their capacity to communicate effectively.

Postponing speech therapy might mean missing the critical window during which the brain matures and learning occurs rapidly.



UX/UI Design, UX Research, & Branding
For our masters' thesis, my partner and I embarked on a mission to make speech therapy affordable and accessible for families from all backgrounds.

This endeavor has since transformed into a startup with the goal of introducing our product to the market and exploring potential partnerships or sales.



Lead UX Designer




UX Design

Business Development



Adobe Suite


From an early age, Brooke, my partner, and I personally had speech impediments that hindered our verbal communication abilities.

We know we are not alone and decided to go and solve this problem. In fact, 57 million kids between the ages of 3 and 17 have also been affected by speech in JUST in the past year within the United States. Based on personal experience, we know that children who don't get speech therapy early are at a greater risk of problems in their academic performance and mental health.

What if there was a way to make speech therapy more accessible to all? How can we help children feel more confident about their speech?
To start our research, we identified speech therapy trends and identified a problem.

We needed to discover the speech therapy market. Research helped us find an opportunity for our product.

Trend Research

What do experts say about the market?

Speech Problems

  • A speech disorder is a broad term encompassing challenges with speech sound perception, motor production, and phonological representation.
  • Speech-language pathologists engage in interactive sessions that utilize play, visual aids like pictures and books, and ongoing events to promote language development.

Economic Problems

  • Children under three can qualify for early intervention public services through guidelines provided by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
  • Private speech therapy is costly, often with minimal insurance coverage, averaging between $100 and $300 per hour.

Covid-19 Impact

  • The speech therapy market has been significantly affected by COVID-19, resulting in heightened patient demand.
  • Evidence suggests that the supply and demand imbalance, brought about by COVID-19, is persisting due to the market's underlying growth trend.
The Problem

Research indicates that numerous children face difficulties in accessing speech therapy due to high costs and government qualifications. Additionally, speech therapy methods often do not align with parents' schedules, and a shortage of speech therapists further complicates accessibility. Consistent therapy sessions several times a week, along with daily practice, yield the most effective results but can also pose challenges to maintain.


An opportunity arises to create an at-home and immersive speech therapy solution. Our idea can aid children, regardless of age or economic background, in accessing speech therapy.

Solution Finding
To arrive at a solution, our journey began with persona building and initial interviews.

These conversations helped pinpoint the key priorities of speech therapists, parents, and the children requiring speech therapy.

Meet John and Amy

Creating Personas to encompass our findings

Age 10
5th Grade

John has had a lisp ever since he started talking. It doesn’t affect the way he performs in school, however, his parents think that it might affect his future. John’s parents think that they should intervene before he goes to middle school. They do not believe they can afford the therapy.

Age 5

Amy is a kindergartener struggling with a stutter. She has trouble making friends with others and is falling behind. Her mother has known about the stutter for a while and thinks it’s the right time to look for therapy. However, her child is now 5 and she does not know where to look because her daughter is too old for government aid.

Interviewing People in the Speech Therapy Space

Mary Pat

Speech Language Pathologist in Lodi, California

Cristy Owen

Speech Language Therapist in Newport Beach


Has a daughter that goes to speech therapy

  • Play is essential and repetition of daily practice strategies is necessary.
  • Each child is different and has different needs so it is important to teach concepts not words.
  • There is a link between speech therapy and children who have a learning disability.
  • There is a shortage of therapists which is normalizing Zoom and Telehealth in the field.
Interview Synthesis

We Decided on Core Mission Statements...

VocalR’s curriculum will help children fix speech impediments through games

VocalR will be used on a need basis. Children will learn at their own pace

VocalR’s use of AI will drive the cost of speech therapy down

VocalR will be able to replace the need for an in-person speech therapist and be just as effective

These interviews helped us create the idea of VocalR. However, we asked ourselves: How can we create a product that enforces play and repetition in an effective way?

Solution #1

A Virtual Reality Product

The first solution we landed on was a product that used virtual reality to educate children in an immersive space. We predicted that the cost of VR for a family would be more cost-effective than in-person therapy. However, roadblocks emerged when we noticed that it would be too hard to monitor a child's mouth movements with a headset on. Further analysis revealed that the VR headset is somewhat ineffective and could be replaced by a mobile device.

A Rough Mockup of How It Works
Ellie - Our VocalR Mascot
Initial Gameplay Storyboards
Solution #2

A Mobile Product Leveraging AI

Our second hypothesis was that AI could be implemented to recognize speech patterns and create customized speech improvement plans for children. Leveraging AI technologies to generate lesson plans could provide our product with a unique selling point. Additionally, this approach would enable us to stick with a familiar mobile platform, thereby enhancing the accessibility and reach of our solution.

Low Fidelity Wireframes of a VocalR App
A Step by Step

The User Journey of Our Solution

Business Model
We conducted market research to optimize our service for profitable outcomes.

Our findings have provided us with valuable insights, enabling us to solidify our position against the competition.

Business Plan

Market Validation

The speech therapy industry is quite large. In 2021, it was worth $9.9 billion dollars in 2021 and is expected to be a $17 billion industry by 2031.

Since there is an absence of fierce competition, the market for speech therapy is little to none. Most alternative speech therapy options do not advance with the child’s improvement and are instead only apps that aid licensed speech therapists.

Business Model

How Will VocalR make Money?

Design Research
I first started with competitor desk research which helped me envision the feel and gameplay of the app.

After we planned our business model, we needed to create a basic version of our app to show to investors (MVP). I was in charge of developing the user experience.


Competitor Research

Current speech therapy apps on the market today focus on the use of play accompanied by a certified speech therapist. How might we create an app that is self-taught, and engages a child to set their own achievable goals? VocalR must be accessible, affordable, and effective.

I assessed that users looking for speech therapy apps like:

  • Data-driven results

  • Personalized features

  • Visuals and images

While some of their pain points included:

  • Hidden costs are too high

  • More prompting for the child is needed

While some of their pain points included:

  • Self-teachable (for a child)

  • Motivating and goal oriented

  • Data-driven


Goal Setting

Success would look like creating an app where a child can reach their speech goals without the need for someone monitoring/SLP.
Success would look like motivating and engaging children to continue their practice and learn from their mistakes.
Using SLP-certified curriculums to create goal-oriented games.
Implementing visually beautiful, personalized, and intuitive content.
Design Process
Introducing the VocalR Child App.

Our main focus was to build out the child-facing app first so we could showcase the gameplay.

User Flow

From the beginning, it became clear that our app required different approaches for its users. While children form a primary user group, parents also play an important role in overseeing progress.


We realized that the game needed an overarching theme, so we settled on the idea of an "expedition."


During the transition from mid-fidelity to hi-fidelity design, I took into account feedback that emphasized refining the app's navigation and user flow. I opted to streamline and focus on showcasing the key features we consider most essential. This led to simplifying the navigation bar to include just Home, Community, and Play.

Additionally, I dedicated more effort to enhancing the onboarding screens, aiming to create a comprehensive and straightforward diagnosis process for children.


The onboarding screens are designed for data collection and diagnosis, with a key focus on incorporating a video diagnosis feature. We've already developed AI-based code capable of detecting different speech issues and providing advice. Our goal is for our code to identify various speech impediments and offer relevant speech therapy recommendations.

Additionally, if a parent has previously had their child diagnosed, they can upload relevant documents here. This information will enable the app to suggest a suitable program based on the child's specific impediment.

Home Screen

The home screen serves as a guided task list for children's learning. It starts with a to-do list suggesting they review flashcards, engage in the game of the day, and then complete an assessment.

Activities offer chances to earn "Koins," our reward tokens. Koins are earned through lessons, daily assessments, streaks (consecutive practice days), and milestones. Additionally, Badges visually represent language learning progress and dedication. Earned by gaining a certain amount of Koins, badges unlock bonus lessons and cultural insights, enriching the learning experience.

Under the to-do list, rewards are clearly indicated, showing your progress towards earning a new badge. A progress counter near the end tracks your overall advancement in VocalR and your daily streaks.

The home screen also provides a link to the flashcards section. This page offers practice options for words a child has struggled with before. For example, if a child is working on "S" sounds due to a lisp, they can see the "S" words they encountered in previous games and assessments, along with their accuracy.

Additionally, you can access tips and advice to improve your "S" sounds. These pointers help children correct recurring mistakes.


The community merges two ideas: The user’s profile and their friend communities. The user's profile serves as the starting point. It's a standard profile displaying badges and groups. Clicking on badges reveals a detailed view of the rewards.The group page presents information about friends in your circles. You can view weekly leaderboards and add new friends as you continue playing.

Within a friend's profile, you can access details about their badges and VocalR journey.

You can also modify your speech goals on your profile. Here, you can identify your speech issues, and reevaluate a speech impediment if you encounter any changes.


The gameplay of the app revolves on the concept of Koins and Badges. As mentioned before, Koins could be earned while playing games.

The game board displays the current daily game and completed games from previous days. Once games are created by a game designer, you can access them via the provided buttons.

Popups serve as significant notifications to guide you to the games. Additionally, there's a button for daily assessments, which provide children the opportunity to earn substantial Koins.

The current MVP

We're in the process of involving a developer and game designer to ensure our concept translates well into the games. We've already got a coder working on backend code to recognize speech patterns and impediments. However, we're still seeking a coder for comprehensive coding and game development. We've identified potential candidates and plan to approach investors once these screens are shared with them.

The next steps involve presenting these screens to investors. With well-prepared business decks and a tangible product, we're poised to convey our idea effectively.

Over the past year, I've gained valuable insights into startups and business models. Prioritizing essential needs over wants has been a crucial lesson. I'm enthusiastic about the project's future, excited to launch it, and make quality speech therapy accessible to all.

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