Posts Tagged ‘AAC apps’
World Autism Awareness Day takes place on the 2nd of April, a day for raising the awareness of autism as well as celebrating the achievements and strengths of people living with autism.
Celebrating World Autism Awareness Day
World Autism Awareness Day gives everybody involved with someone living with autism, the people themselves and those who care about sharing awareness of the condition the chance to shout about it. World Autism Awareness Day is celebrated across many countries and it’s an opportunity for people to share their stories and come together to celebrate the people who succeed and exceed expectations every single day.
In the UK it’s believed more than 1 in every 100 people has autism and this equates to around 700,000 just in the UK. It is a condition which effects different people in different ways and whilst some people living with Autism can live independently, find employment and enjoy a busy social calendars others are non-verbal and require 24 hour care and support.
At Communication Aids many of our articles and posts support people living with autism or their parents and carers. Many of the verbal communication issues we discuss are highly relevant to people involved in the care of someone with autism and we hope our efforts have been helpful in some way or another.
This video from 2013 shows exactly how much World Autism Awareness Day means to many different people:
Technology, Communication and Autism
All of us use technology on a daily basis: from checking our emails to watching TV, a screen is never far away. We already know that technology can be hugely beneficial and helpful for people living with communication difficulties and this extends to people wit autism.
Many people living with autism have difficulties with communication, both in terms of verbal speech and comprehension of others. Tablets such as ones made by Apple or Android offer a range of AAC apps for speech which we have discussed at length previous and this can ease the anxiety and frustration of many people with an ASD, as communication can finally become a possibility.
With a lack of traditional communication methods can often come difficulties in learning from traditional teaching and classroom methods. Listening for long periods of time can be difficult due to many people living with autism having difficulty with concentration and organisation. A learning app gives the user the ability to learn at their own pace, with the option of repeating segments they may well have missed if it were the spoken word. Game-based learning is also proven to be extremely valuable.
Trabasack for your Tablet
The Trabasack is a lightweight lap tray and secure travel bag, ideal for carrying a tablet safely and securely. Using the Trabasack Media Mount your tablet can be in the upright position, or simply lay it flat on the large, sturdy tray which attaches comfortably around the waist. The beanbag cushion underneath provides comfort and support when using your Trabasack, while the D-Ring attachments make the bag easy to carry around by shoulder strap or over the handles of a wheelchair. To enhance your tablet experience, buy your Trabasack now.
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.
Low Cost AAC Apps for Speech
The range of AAC apps on the market is vast and working your way through them all can be a daunting task. Some of the more established brands may seem hugely expensive, especially if you don’t have funding in any way and especially in light of recent benefit cuts.
An extremely helpful and valued group on Facebook called More Than Words has given us plenty of food for thought and inspired this post. The group is managed by Kati Lea, who has previously appeared on our site as a Trabasack user and advocate of many AAC apps and devices.
We’ve learned a lot in our time in the group and are sharing some of the fantastic low cost AAC apps for speech available if you can’t stretch to the more expensive options on the market.
An iPad app designed by two experienced speech language pathologists who specialise in AAC. The app is built upon evidence and research and uses a word-based vocabulary. The vocabulary is built up from the most frequently used words in general communication and gives access to over 13,000 words. It’s available for £139.99 which is significantly less than many of the more established apps.
ClaroCom is an iOS app which aims to take the place of speech for those who are unable to communicate that way. It’s designed to be suitable for adults and children with some or complete literacy. Users can simply type into ClaroCom or they can use word prediction or phrase prediction functions. A range of voices are available and they are programmed with English accents which can make all the difference. You can make the in-app purchase of further accents including Australian, Scottish and South African. ClaroCom may be a good first app for users new to AAC as it’s available for just £9.99.
Speech Assistant AAC
This app is for Android users and is completely free! Being free doesn’t necessarily make it a great choice although we think it has some basic, valuable features which make it worth trying. The app is loaded up with 12 categories and within each category are several set phrases which can be vocalised as they are and you can also add in important personalisation.
Grid Player is another highly valuable FREE AAC app which could be perfect for you or your family. It is accessible for a wide range of people including those who are more comfortable with symbols than words or text. It includes over 24,000 different symbols and has both male and female voices so it can be personalised. You can personalise it and add in your own features including photographs, words and symbols.
Some of these apps may not be perfect for your situation but they could be part of the learning curve to find the right app or device for you or your family’s needs. If you have found some low cost apps to help with communication or wish to comment on the post above please do so below. You will also find more useful apps for communication under ‘Related Posts’ below.
iPad helps American Boy find his Voice
The benefits of iPad apps and technology for those living with disabilities proven again
Despite the iPad being popular with absolutely everybody, we are convinced they help and support learning and communication for people with disabilities. Hunter Harrison is a five year old boy uses his iPad to communicate. Hunter lives with a neuromuscular disability which effects his motor abilities including those needed for verbal communication. Despite this, Hunter is learning to read, knows his numbers, letters, colours and shapes and will be attending mainstream school in September.
Hunter needs a communication system that works. It’s clear he has the facilities to flourish in a mainstream classroom environment. This view is shared by Jane Kleinert from the University of Kentucky who has been working with Hunter. She highlights how popular the iPad has been for use in classrooms, particularly with pupils with autism. The adaptability of the device is one of its most popular features.
Access to AAC Devices Limited, despite iPad affordability
Research in the US has shown that less than 50% of children who require AAC support have access to it. We don’t have statistics for the UK but we’re sure they won’t be significantly different. Access to AAC devices is essential for supporting communication development in children with disabilities. Professor Kleinert and a UK colleague are working together to develop an initiative to build communication systems for children with disabilities. The scheme has allowed Hunter his own iPad loaded up with the popular Proloquo2Go App. The app allowed Hunter to find ways to communicate but over time it has also led to improvement in his oral speech.
Unfortunately in America, the leading funding options won’t supply iPads as they restrict their funds to dedicated instruments designed for communication. The iPad doesn’t fit this category. However, dedicated AAC devices are often heavy and extremely expensive. The iPad of course has many portability and cost advantages and the success Hunter has achieved is something that every child should have access to. This video shows Hunter in action:
Trabasack can be used successfully as a low cost iPad or communication aid mount for more info click here
Following on from part 4 in our series of blog posts covering the extensive and ever-growing range of AAC apps available for iPad, we have a collection of symbol-based applications that are designed to aid your child with their communication, without relying on verbal prompts.
Each of the apps chosen for our AAC Apps blog compendium were individually assessed and compiled by Jane Farral – a speech pathologist and special educator with over 20 years of practical knowledge in the field of disability and assistive technology. Jane is highly experienced in the teaching of both adults and children with varying abilities, and holds a Masters in Special Education, where she concentrated on literacy acquisition in children and adults without speech.
Gabby Tabs was developed by the parents of a child whom is non-verbal autistic, to provide an app with an in-depth understanding of the methods required to allow a parent to communicate with their child with AAC needs. The emphasis of this iPad app is to provide carers with an immediately easy-to-use, “ready-to-go” interface, filled with pre-installed commonly used symbols and audio. The simple and brightly-coloured interface of this app will immediately appeal to younger children, and hopefully encourage them to communicate their wants and needs with ease.
The GoTalk Now app has been created by an educational company with over 25 years experience of creating tools specifically for AAC. The app allows you to create templates or “books” of information directly related to your child’s lifestyle and needs, using voice recording, text-to-speech, video and either Imagine Symbols or your own, user-uploaded images. Your completed books can also be shared online or stored online for use no matter what your location, as long as an internet connection is available.
The Grace – Picture Exchange app comes is a highly commended AAC app that won both the 2010 Irish Web Award and the United Nations World Summit Mobile Award. The app focuses on simple a picture exchange system to allow children and adults with autism to communicate with ease. The user can select images to create sentences, which are then used to encourage the child to attempt their own vocalisation. This intuitive app comes with a basic collection of images with the function for uploading your own, and also supports the iPad’s 3-axis “gyroscope” to allow even further interactivity.
The I Click I Talk iPad app features some unique technical add-ons that are generally unavailable on other AAC apps, most specifically the ability to monitor and analyse your child’s usage data and statistics. It can help the carer to monitor the frequency each image has been activated, or whether a child prefers photograph symbols over cartoon-style images. This is an excellent tool for helping to create a truly individual AAC aid for your child, allowing you to cater to their specific visual tastes and interests.
The iAssist Communicator app is aimed at children on the autistic spectrum whom are more cognitively challenged – therefore the app moves away from the use of abstract, cartoon-like symbols, and relies purely on photo-realistic images for communication. As with many of the AAC apps we have featured so far, iAssist was created by a parent, therefore usability and the ability to customise categories has been taken well into account. This app comes pre-installed with 240 photos and voice-recordings, and also with every purchase made of this dynamic app, 10% of the cost will be donated to non-profit autism organisations.
We hope that these intuitive AAC apps provide both yourself and your child with a fun and interesting communication experience, and to provide your child with an even more carefree learning experience, why not consider the new Trabasack Media Mount? The Trabasack Media Mount is a flexible, multi purpose mounting device, useful for supporting iPads and other tablet computers at just the right angle, leaving your child’s hands free for touch screen interaction.
The Trabasack Media Mount is made of soft hook and loop receptive material with a velcro strip along one side. This means that you can twist it to any shape and it will stick to itself, and can be secured to the Trabasack Curve Connect lap tray with ease.
Simple Yet Intuitive and Easy-to-Use AAC Apps for iPad
Welcome to part three in our series of blogs covering many of the useful and innovative iPad AAC apps as researched and compiled by Jane Farral – a speech pathologist and special educator with over 20 years of practical knowledge in the field of disability and assistive technology. Jane is highly experienced in the teaching of both adults and children with varying abilities, and holds a Masters in Special Education, where she concentrated on literacy acquisition in children and adults without speech.
The Communicate Mate iPad and iPhone app is a very basic and therefore simple to use communication tool for children, with useful selection of symbols and sentences that once activated via touch, are spoken aloud via a pre-recorded human female voice. Once this app is downloaded and installed, Communicate works entirely offline, therefore it does not require an internet connection or 3G connection to function.
Connect Cards utilises the online image hosting website Picasa to allow users to create their own personalised communication tool for children. Images are firstly uploaded and tagged on the Picasa website, and then the app syncs with the user’s online account, to populate one of three card categories (food, drink and activities). This allows the child to touch the “I want” icon, then activate a symbol relating to their need – Connect Cards will then provide the correct sentence aloud in speech.
The DIME iPad app is a collection of 5 AAC tools that provide an intuitive aid for helping your child to express their needs. The main feature of the DIME app is the “Communicator” – a tool that creates sentences using 3 language elements; person, verb and compliment. The other tools included with this iPad app are “I Want/I Am” – a simplified version of the Communicator that allows children to immediately express their needs. The “Clock” function is a fun way of helping your child understand the concept of time. Choose a task and then start the timer; the aim is for your child to complete their task before the animated snail finishes eating their tasty leaf. Lastly there is a “Blackboard” function, which provides a creative on-screen play area for drawing, and “Album” – an interactive gallery of pre-installed symbols and a place to view your own personally uploaded images.
The Discover MyVoice for iOS iPad app has one main aim – to provide a simple and easy to set-up AAC app for caregivers and children alike. Perhaps an app for those whom struggle to understand the plethora of options and excess date input associated with other apps; the Discover My Voice app allows you to quickly and easily use your own images to create categories, and then either attach a recording of your own voice or allow the app to utilise text-to-speech to provide audio.
Easy Speak is a powerful AAC iPad app that comes with more than 800 pre-installed symbols with corresponding audio, to provide your child with the ability to express an extensive range of emotions, needs/wants, actions, questions and more. The Easy Speak app is fully customisable, providing the user the ability to upload personal, familiar images into user-defined categories.
If you’re looking for new and innovative ways of helping your child to play or learn via the iPad, the Trabasack Media Mount is the latest addition to the Trabasack family of ingenious AAC aids. The Trabasack Media Mount is a flexible and multi purpose mounting device, perfect for supporting tablet computers such as iPads. The malleable mount can be twisted and shaped to provide the correct angle for any device, support for wrists and even to create a boundary or target area for switch users.
The Trabasack Media Mount is made of soft hook and loop receptive material with a velcro strip along one side. This means that you can twist it to any shape and it will stick to itself!
Part 2 – Autism AAC Apps for Children and Young Adults
Following on from part 1 of our compendium of blogs covering interactive iPad apps for AAC, we have yet more innovative teaching aids that will help to ease difficulties with communication via a fun and uncomplicated interface.
Augie AAC is a modern and portable communication app specifically designed for those with AAC needs. The iPad app lets you organise information into two categories; home and school, where everything from schedules, vocabulary and tasks can be arranged for quick and easy access and usability. This voice output app comes with a library of high-frequency vocabulary, which covers both the home and school environment, and can be user-defined to provide even more freedom and independence of communication.
AutisMate is a unique and fully customisable communication app is specifically aimed at children and young people with Autism. The app allows you to create “scenes” of familiar family, home and school settings by uploading photographs of surroundings, which can then be layered with interactive prompts matched to the user’s current location. The unique feature of this AAC app is its ability to track the user’s location using GPS, and thus updates the current displayed “scene” to match your child’s environment. The interactive prompts can include text-to-speech, video or static images, to help provide a fun way for your child to connect with their surroundings.
Baluh is a simple iPad app for creating communication pages using either the pre-installed 400+ ARASAAC symbols or user uploaded images. You can create category pages which can include 20 options, and then each option page can include 4 interactive communication buttons.
Click n’ Talk is another simplified and easy-to-use communication aid that allows caregivers or children to create photo albums on specific subjects, using their own photographs. Each photo can have text and voice attached with ease, to provide a fun way of revisiting past events or helping to educate about everyday activities.
The ComApp.i3 iPad app is a fun, bright and attractive AAC aid that allows children to quickly and easily communicate basic everyday needs and wants. The icons and interface are incredibly child-friendly, with a simple navigation that will help children express their needs almost immediately, without prior demonstration or experience with the app.
These AAC apps were chosen and appraised by Jane Farral, a speech pathologist and special educator with over 20 years of practical knowledge in the field of disability and assistive technology. Jane is highly experienced in the teaching of both adults and children with varying abilities, and holds a Masters in Special Education, where she concentrated on literacy acquisition in children and adults without speech.
Trabasack are pleased to announce their newest communication device mounting aid– the Trabasack Media Mount; a multi-purpose, flexible mounting device, ideal for use on help support mobile electronic devices or as Ipads or other tablet computers when people are seated. The Trabasack Media Mount can be used in conjunction with the Connect Curve lap desk bag to ensure iPads, books or even remote controls and bottles remain in a sturdy position, and at the desired angle for use; it can be easily twisted into shape to hold almost anything upright, with the Velcro along one side ensuring the device remains firmly in place.
Part 1 – Themes, Speech Sets and Flash Cards
This is the first blog post in a series covering some fantastic and innovative augmentative and alternative communication iPad and iPhone apps to aid communication, provide a stimulating educational experience, helping adults and encouraging interaction in children.
These AAC apps were compiled by Jane Farrall – a speech pathologist and special educator with over 20 years of practical knowledge in the field of disability and assistive technology. Jane is highly experienced in the teaching of both adults and children with varying abilities, and holds a Masters in Special Education, where she concentrated on literacy acquisition in children and adults without speech.
2CanTalk The 2CanTalk iPhone app allows you to create a catalogue of “Themes”; a bespoke picture board of images with corresponding sounds, to fit a specific location or event. Create themes for almost every situation, from your or your child’s everyday needs to a trip to the park; simply take photographs using your iPhone of familiar objects and add your own voice recording and text label to each image.
For example; if you require a “want/need” theme – take representative photographs of your child’s most common activities (bathroom, snack, drink, sleep etc) then allow you to pick from the images on screen to communicate. Each theme can include a subsection, therefore if you were to choose “Snack”, you would then be presented with further on screen options such as banana, toast, biscuits, or any specific snack item you choose to include.
AACSpeechBuddy is an iPad app that can be used in conjunction with aacspeech.com to build bespoke image and speech sets using either the 2000+ provided Mulberry symbols or your own photographs and one of 6 text-to-speech voices. The app comes with several demo speech sets included, to give you an idea where to start, then you can create an online account to manage your bespoke speech sets which can then be loaded on to the app. The online creation feature is perfect for sharing or downloading speech sets made by other users, friends or teachers.
Ablah is a simplified iPad app that allows you to create categories of images, which can then be browsed by either swiping-through or viewed as a timed slideshow. This app relies mostly on your own uploaded images rather than a library of pre-installed icons, and utilises recorded speech rather than text-to-speech.
Aeir Talk is a stylish and bold Flash Card style iPad app to help increase your child’s vocabulary and teach spelling. The flash cards can be split into several sections, including verbs or nouns, and using your own photographs of familiar household items, such as food and toys, you can create informative yet immediately recognisable flash cards to appeal to your child. This app also allows you to record your own voice and create cards to fit any object or activity you desire.
The Answers:YesNo app was specifically designed and tailored to help a young man with non-verbal Autism and motor planning issues, communicate his wants and needs with those around him. This app is simplified to just two large, colour-coordinated “Yes” and “No” buttons, to provide straightforward and immediate communication. However, you can also create custom button pages to differentiate between two different subject matters (such as “cat” or “dog”, or “hello” or “goodbye”) and you can record your own voice for each image with ease.
We will be following-up this blog post with another selection of useful AAC iPad apps, as well as more information about our new, innovative Trabasack Media Mount – a flexible and multi purpose mounting device that can be wrapped around objects to provide the perfect angle, ideal for supporting iPads when in use on the Trabasack Curve Connect tray top.