About Digital Scribbler

Digital Scribbler is a technology company, whose “built in the garage” origin story typifies Silicon Valley. This garage is more mentality than place. It is a mindset which says, “If we can dream it, we can build it.”

We dreamed of creating affordable communication apps, which are capable of giving the verbally challenged a voice. All needed to be mobile, simple, and flexible. Quick Talk AAC and Quick Type AAC have been the results so far, and they have been helping those in silence speak ever since.

Digital Scribbler has 5 simple aims and goals:

  1. Help individuals overcome their human limits, like learning and intellectual disabilities
  2. Inspire parents to use technology to help their children overcome human limits
  3. Inspire teachers to integrate technology into their classrooms to overcome human limits
  4. Provide ideas, insights, and examples for practical application to accomplish 1-3
  5. Help the most innovative companies in the world get involved in this effort

The heart of our dream is leveraging the power of technology to help people overcome their human limits. We invite you to accompany us on the Digital Scribbler blog, where we will chronicle our journey.

About the Founder

My name is Russ Ewell, and I am embracing a daunting challenge, which is to blog with effectiveness. Digital Scribbler is an effort to write about ideas, insights, and the practical application of technology in the field and area of education. As parents of children with special needs my wife and I have had to loosen the limiting grip of convention to develop innovative ways for our children to experience success.

Along with a collection of friends I began E-Soccer as an innovative way to give my children the experience of sports and community. You can read more about this program here.

When faced with the challenge of my son’s autism I have turned to technology again and again. Each time it has provided our family with unexpected and stirring breakthroughs. You can read about that here.

There are a number of other experiences that have taught me the importance of effectively integrating technology into our lives. I don’t believe technology is the miracle. I do believe it is a useful tool, and that in the hands of motivated parents, innovative therapist, and creative teachers amazing things can happen.

I believe technology can help us overcome human limits, and my hope is that Digital Scribbler will make a significant contribution toward making this vision become a reality.

If you are reading this, then be certain that I need your help and ideas. Let’s make this dream come true for every family, school, and community in the world.

Our Vision

Autism can render even the most intelligent powerless. My wife and I have witnessed this fact, as countless aspects of our son’s autism have left the brilliant baffled. It seems apparent intelligence alone cannot defeat autism. The persistence of which Calvin Coolidge spoke is the vital, and often missing ingredient in the journey of discovery necessary to solve this mystery.


Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.

Calvin Coolidge
30th president of US (1872 – 1933)

The parents of autistic children and adults have immense reserves of this persistence. Channeling their energy will lead to breakthroughs, which can resist passive intelligence, but not the persistent type.

Passive intelligence is satisfied with effort, happy with progress, and returns home each evening to pursue a life free from autism. Persistent intelligence lives the challenge, measures effort by progress, and is consumed from dawn to dusk with the pursuit of breakthrough.

Passive intelligence cannot defeat, overcome, or make significant progress in the quest to unravel the mystery of autism. Only persistent intelligence can achieve this goal. Parents of children with autism can turn the passive persistent, which is why every organization or individual in this fight, should value and include them in their efforts.

The marriage of the passive with the persistent has given birth to Digital Scribbler, and the communication software we have released. Our software is the result of a multidisciplinary collaboration of parents, teachers, speech therapists, and software engineers. Autism families have injected the brilliance of those who have volunteered ideas, insight, and time with passion.

Autism is one of the most formidable challenges of our time. The numbers are chilling, as 1 in 110 kids receives a diagnosis of Autism. It becomes even more sobering when examining the military, where the number is 1 in 88.

Rarely mentioned is the 30% of those living with autism who are functionally non-verbal. This fact was recently highlighted at the International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR).

Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D., Autism Speaks’ Chief Science Officer, chaired the session and set the stage for the audience to appreciate the importance of this particular topic. An estimated 30% of individuals living with autism are functionally non-verbal, yet very little research effort was directed toward helping this group communicate their wants and needs. The inability to communicate leads caregivers and clinicians to the presumption that the cognitive skills in these individuals were low because the tests typically used to assess cognitive skill require verbal or behavioral responses that this group of individuals does not readily produce.
IMFAR 2001-2011

Autistic children and adults with verbal limits are not alone. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) estimates 7.5 million people in the United States have some form of verbal limitation.

A number of tools, devices, and applications have been developed to assist those with verbal disorders. Alternative Augmentative Communication devices are especially important for non-verbal children with autism.

As a father of a son who is functionally non-verbal, I want and need something, which fits seamlessly into our lives. I want communication at the speed of life. There is enough anxiety involved with making trips and transitions. We don’t have time or space for bulky and complicated devices, whose software was designed for the stationary life we rarely live.

We want to leave “BCS” devices (Bulky, Complicated, and Stationary) for those unusual moments, but when on the move, we need communication at the speed of life. We need mobility, simplicity, and flexibility.  BCS devices are of critical importance, but more often than not, they get in the way when traveling at the speed of life. Give me mobility, simplicity, and flexibility…this is what our software is all about.

Cheap, Cheap, Cheap

When I was in elementary school we had a favorite a joke. It went something like this, “you are so stingy that when you walk by the birds go cheap, cheap, cheap.” As parents of autistic children we chirp with the birds.

Affording smartphones and tablets is not for the faint of heart. It is an expensive endeavor. Android has proven they will be the price leader. They have cheaper devices, and developing software for them is less costly.

Just My Imagination

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
Albert Einstein

While many people provided opinions and advice, when it came down to it the core team developing this was small and dedicated. I am grateful to them, and they know who they are…what we imagined has become a reality.

This is only the beginning for us. Our aim is to develop a sustainable company, which will be sensitive to the needs and challenges of families with autism. So, go ahead and get a copy of our software, use it, and then give us feedback. We will do our best to help you and those you love overcome their human limits.

3 Comments

  1. Merryn Affleck

    I was directed to your site and Quick Talk AAC via the Special Education Advisor site. I have so very much enjoyed reading your blog entries and the amazing ideas you bring to light. Thank you so very much. As an advocate and parent coach I will certainly be directing many of my clients to this page in the hope that they can be inspired and encouraged to continue to learn and grow for their children.

  2. Wendy H

    Really appreciate all you do. Wish I had more geek in me, I see techs potential in helping my son to thrive in spite of the challenges of autism. Your site is helping educate me to possibilities.

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