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BeyondAutism’s Experience with the BrightSign Glove

Author: Chloe Watkins (Head of Therapy) and Paschalis Terzidis (Speech and Language Therapist)


12th May 2023 | 1 min read

At BeyondAutism, many of our learners use sign language to communicate their needs and wants. In order to better support our learners’ communication needs, we were granted a two-week rotational trial of the BrightSign Glove, a high-tech AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) device that enables users to make clear requests using signs. The trial was provided to us free of charge, allowing us to assess its potential impact and benefit on learners across the services. 

The team worked together to support learners in understanding the new technology, and Occupational Therapists assessed which learners could benefit from wearing the glove. Throughout the trial period, we recorded every single request made by the learners, and the Speech and Language Therapists created sign libraries and visuals to support their communication. 


What is the BrightSign Glove? 


The BrightSign Glove is a high-tech AAC device that allows individuals to communicate through sign language and sign support systems. The glove is equipped with sensors that detect the movement of the wearer’s fingers and translates them into spoken language. The device also has an app that stores a library of signs and phrases, making communication easier for the wearer. 


Trialling the BrightSign Glove with our learners 


The therapies team at BeyondAutism collaborated with Post-19 and School staff to trial the BrightSign Glove with some learners. The team prepared the learners by explaining the purpose of the trial and creating social stories and visuals to support their understanding. 

During the trial, learners’ success with the glove varied. Some learners could use the glove for up to 15 minutes, while others were only happy with it for a few minutes. The therapies team worked to build sign libraries that suited each learner’s needs, which allowed them to communicate their wants and needs more clearly. 

One learner at Tram House School was able to use the glove for longer periods over time. The team built a sign library of around 20 signs and created a few sentences out of his Makaton signs. For example, the learner could request to use the big screen by signing “big screen,” and the device would speak for him saying “I want the big screen.”  


Another learner at Wandsworth Hub used the glove for approximately 15 minutes during the last trial session. The Speech and Language Therapist built a sign library of 15 signs that the learner could use to request items and activities he liked. They were able to request to go to the shop spontaneously using the device. 

Impact of the BrightSign Glove


We found that the BrightSign Glove had a positive impact on the learners’ ability to communicate. The device provided learners with an alternative communication method that they could use to make clear requests using their main method of communication. The VOCA (Voice Output Communcation Aid) aspect of the BrightSign Glove allowed the learners to be understood by those who do not have knowledge of sign support systems.  In addition, the learners using the glove have some adapted signs.  As the BrightSign Glove programmes the individual sign, these adapted signs could be understood by those who did not know the learner personally. 

There were however some barriers for students when using the device.  Battery life and charging times proved to be an issue when using the device.  Connection with the app also proved inconsistent and difficulties with the Bluetooth speaker meant that tablets had to remain out and therefore acted as a distraction. 

The team remains in contact with Brightsign and will revisit the device in the future as the system develops, to support the learners’ communication needs. 

High Tech AAC 


BrightSign Glove is one of many developing systems that allow individuals to communicate their needs with the use of an App or via another VOCA.  For non-speaking individuals this can give them a voice and enable them to be understood by those in the wider community, who may not understand sign support systems.   

The development of these systems enables more choice so that individuals can find a communication device that works for them.  Some, for example LAMP (Liberator), work on the concept of muscle memory, so that the individual learns where buttons and symbols are on a screen without having to look. Whereas others, such as Proloquo2go (Assistive Technology) or Grid 3 (Think Smart box and Liberator), allow folders to be built specifically for the individual and incorporate photos and symbols. Whereas Predictable (Therapy Box) uses a keyboard and predictive text options. Each system has a range of voices users can choose from in order to represent their voice.  

It is important to note that whilst many will choose to use a VOCA to communicate, some individuals do not want to have a voice created for them.  Some may prefer to use low tech aided systems, such as a communication book or board or unaided systems, such as signs.   While the development of technology in communication systems is fantastic and opens new doors for individuals to find their voice, it is important that we remember the importance of allowing individuals to choose their own method of communication, that works for them.  

For more information on AAC systems, visit the website of the organisation Communication Matters.

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