Help us better understand children’s language by participating in
our study



NIHR i4i funded project (NIHR200889) is appealing for volunteers aged 4 to 8 to download our app and retell a story. The story recording will be used to train software to help speech and language therapists evaluate the language of children who might have developmental language disorder (DLD).

We need 600 children around England and Wales to share their story to allow us to gather enough data to make the software that will be evaluated in 2020 in real NHS clinics by speech and language therapists, parents and children.

About the app

The game-based app will present an animated story to be retold by children aged four to eight, and the child’s spoken story will be analysed to understand how their performance stacks up to age-matched peers from around the country. It has been designed with children to ensure it is engaging, and to make sure the language used works for 4 to 8-year-olds. It involves a treasure hunt adventure - which has universal appeal and excitement!


About the study

Funded by the National Institute for Health Research’s Invention for Innovation programme, specialist technology company Therapy Box is leading a collaboration to take their machine learning based app to the clinic so that speech and language therapists in England and Wales can more quickly assess children’s language, supporting them to identify children with DLD and then plan the support that child needs.

The innovative collaboration between Therapy Box, Bristol Speech and Language Therapy Research Unit, Newcastle University and three NHS sites in Hackney, Newcastle, and Bristol will take place across two years. At the start of the project, the team will be seeking 600 children to record their stories, to help train the app to recognise the children having trouble with their language. In the second year of the project, the app will be put through its paces by speech and language therapists and families coming to clinics for assessment.


The project would comprise the following key work packages:

  • A citizen science/data collection exercise to gather more data from children using mobile technology
  • Full product development of the app that would be used by children
  • Full product development of a software system for services to use to track the children’s data in their service and prioritise.
  • An evaluation across 3 sites.
  • The commercialisation of the product.

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is the nation's largest funder of health and care research. The NIHR funds, supports and delivers high-quality research that benefits the NHS, public health and social care.



How to get involved?

  • Download the app and with your 4-8 year old child, share their story in the app for researchers to use to develop the clinical product
  • Share the link to the app with parents of children 4-8 who may be interested in participating in the study
  • Speak to us about students at your school participating in the study
  • Tweet about the project to help share the word
  • Sign up to keep up to date with the project