Proloquo4text: is a new text to speech app for people who cannot speak or have difficulties making themselves understood.
Below is a review of the new app from Proloquo – P4T by expert user Kati Lea
I received the first build of P4T in Sept and initially had a few difficulties as the categories that went down the side were too narrow and did not seem to increase with font neither did the prediction on the keyboard.
I gave them feedback over the issues that a person with fine motor difficulties would struggle with particularly and then a few weeks later was sent a second build of the Beta version.
This was much better and easier for me to use. I could make the categories bigger and the prediction in the keyboard, although it didn’t leave much space for typing on the iPad mini when the keyboard is up, especially if you are using very large font’s. The space does look bigger in screenshots that it comes across on the iPad mini.
I feel, to make the best of this app, particularly if you have some fine motor issues but want to access directly via touch, then the larger iPad would give you more room to play with on the screen. If you can see a regular sized font easily this issue will probably not affect you.
The app does have some great features for adult communicators and is aimed at Adults with good literacy skills who prefer a prediction based AAC device to one with symbols and having to hunt through ‘pages’ of topics to find the words/sentences you want.
Each build brought improvements from the last. There is a start up guide to help the total novice set the app to their requirements, though it is easy for the more experienced user to find all settings under the gear icon on the top right of the screen.
Here are some examples with larger font’s and coloured menu’s that I created, just to show how it can be personalised.
If you are reducing the predictions/quick chat to one column, I find sentence prediction and phrases the most helpful if you wish to reduce options. However you can choose for all of them to appear on that side and you just press the small icon on top right of that bar to scroll through between quickchat, prediction etc.
You can also make the prediction on the keyboard a larger font and bigger ‘buttons’, or you can remove it entirely and only have predictions on the side bars.
You can even have the keyboard prediction in a different colour if you want! Another great feature I was keen to see incorporated was abbreviation-expansion or ‘shortcuts’. These are essential to the text based typist to speed up production of long explanations and as an alternative to having to look through categories.
Here are screenshots of me creating the shortcut to explain Typetalk (as in the screenshot further up)
Regarding access methods – the switch access is now built into iOS7 and you can use the app with either external switches or using your iPads camera as the switch with look left to stop scan, right to continue for example. You can let the OS scan for you or do it manually so it only scans when you activate by turning your head. You can also scan by touching screen. You can add this as an extra feature and combine with head movements to create 3 switches.
To reach this page go to .. General Settings > Accessibility > Physical & Motor > Switch Control > Switches and select your preferred input method.
This is a useful feature with adults with progressive conditions who maybe able to use an iPad with hands to start but maybe wanting to start to teach themselves switch scanning, so they can be proficient in it by the time it is needed full time. The iPad mini (wi-fi only version) is £399 as a entry price, significantly cheaper than many specialist AAC devices for those struggling to afford or get funding for them
I do have mine on an iPad mini (It’s all I could afford this year) and there is not a lot of spare screen space when you need to make prediction, fonts and side bars bigger in order to read them properly or just physically hit the right one. For those with aiming difficulties/intention tremor etc I would suggest using P4T with the larger screened iPad. It may even make it possible for some people to use in portrait mode.
As a side note – Typetalk/Text Direct are also bringing out an app called ParallelText that allows you to use iDevices as minicoms to make phone calls. Giving you a fully functional AAC device that can do the same as the more expensive devices regarding having switch access, ability to compose text message (PLUS use as a minicom for hearing impaired AAC users) and a communication aid PLUS all the other stuff you can do on an iPad too!!
Overall it is an excellent app and released today on the app store at a special introductory price of £44.99 for the first few weeks, after which it will be £89.99.