Posts Tagged ‘speech difficulties’
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.
Voice Symbol Software gives you the opportunity to create talking pictures activated by the simple touch of a V Pen. With this software you can actually design and print your own ‘talking paper’, communication boards and books, which can be accessed through the innovative V Pen. At Trabasack, we believe this pioneering technology is extremely revolutionary and the range of products available complement the V Pen is vast.
The V Pen itself is a radical new AAC learning support device which generates speech. It generates speech through reading sound codes from printer paper materials, thus creating the ‘talking paper’ that was previously mentioned, as well as communication boards and materials for teaching. This video shows the range of vocabulary that the V Pen can access
The V Pen is very easy to use and you simply touch the picture that corresponds with your thought to create the spoken voice. The communication boards are extremely useful for anybody who has reduced speech capabilities or is non-verbal and even better, they are a perfect fit for the Trabasack Mini Connect, which can be used as a tray to hold your communication board or cards. Using your Trabasack Mini Connect as a supportive lap tray whilst using your V Pen will mean you can easily access and touch the symbols at any given time.
The other important point to mentioned with the Trabasack Mini Connect is its “Connect” surface which acts as a great base for Velcro hooks meaning you can attached any laminated voice symbol software materials to your Trabasack and then you can access them more easily. Using your Trabasack Mini Connect in conjunction with your V Pen means you can communicate with ease.
A range of V – Pen products and bundles are available from Ability World.
Communication Aids: Communication Cards
If you have problems with verbal communication, perhaps due to learning difficulties, deafness, cerebral palsy, or stroke, you may already have normal communication aids or methods. But what if the person you’re trying to communicate with doesn’t understand BSL or Makaton, or your Lightwriter‘s batteries are flat? Or you may just have communication problems occasionally, perhaps due to fatigue, or if there’s too much noise.
Communication Cards, from Stickman Communications, are the answer. These sturdy laminated communication aids cover most situations in a non-clinical, light-hearted (but never offensive) way. In the bank, the post office, shops, and a multitude of other situations, Communication Cards will be invaluable.
You start by ordering a Starter Pack, which has a “Thank You” card on a keyring style holder. Then you add whatever other cards are going to be helpful for you. Your selection will come as a set on the keyring.
There is a wide selection of Communication Cards available, including one for writing your own message and one for your personal data. Some are specific to certain conditions – for instance one has a brief description of Hypermobility Syndrome – but most of them could be used by any of us.
Each card is 11cm by 7.8cm, and your set will come with stickers to put on the cards, so you can easily find the one you need. They can slip into a bag or handbag, or even into your pocket, or clip onto a wheelchair using a carabiner clip.
Communication Cards have only been available for a short time, but as this tweet shows, their popularity is growing fast by word of mouth.
New Communication Card designs are coming out all the time, so keep an eye on the website to see what’s new! These innovative and attractive communication aids are great fun, and can be a lifesaver in an emergency. A highly recommended product.
Five Great Communication Apps for your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch
Apple’s position as one of the most popular, important and powerful computing and telecommunications companies cannot be disputed. Their range of devices from the original iPod to the more recent iPad and iPhone series are fantastically equipped to handle a huge range of apps and many of these can be used to significantly improve day to day life.
Many people thought Apple had designed their apps purely for entertainment and fun but there are many more uses for many of their great apps, most significantly for us, communication. At Trabasack for Communication Aids we are always looking for the latest and the best technology available to aid communication and make it more accessible. Here we’ve compiled five of the best communication apps currently available through the Apple App Store!
1 – Yes/No – a very simple communication app which is fantastic for simply answering questions. Yes/No allows the user to voice their preference to most questions with a yes or no answer. This app is fantastic for those with learning difficulties who may find open questions difficult and therefore are more confident and comfortable with simple answers.
2 – iCommunicate. – Grembe Inc. – a communication app which allows for simple expression of feelings through symbols and sounds. You can customise it with specific photos of your environment, for example you could put together a storyboard or social story photos of the individual with the disability doing their usual daily tasks. Like an interactive PECs system.
3 – TouchChat AAC with WordPower – Silver Kite – an app designed for those who have difficulty using their own voice. There are a range of set messages and sentences stored within TouchChat but you can also add your own if the non-verbal individual has particular favourite phrases or sentences they’re used to and also you can add their name to TouchChat’s vocabulary.
4 – Assistive Chat – assistive apps – much like TouchChat, Assistive Chat supports those who have difficulty using their own speech. It’s a much more affordable option and has a range of customisable settings including the voice it speaks in, the size of the font on the screen and also word prediction so keystrokes can be kept to a minimum.
5 – Grace – Picture Exchange for Non-Verbal People – an award winning app designed for non-verbal individuals. Developed for those on the autistic spectrum, Grace is designed to allow users to choose pictures to express their needs independently and in time, where possible, vocalise their needs alongside using the picture.
These are just five of the great communications apps on the market and we believe each one of them can be really useful for furthering independence and general life experiences!
If you’re lucky enough to own one of these great Apple devices, don’t forget how useful your Trabasack can be. The Trabasack Mini in particular is designed to perfectly fit an iPad 2 and it’s a brilliant storage space for any Apple device. Equally, the Trabasack tray surface gives you the option of somewhere safe and secure to rest your Apple device when not in use!
Using your Trabasack Mini Connect as an iTalk2 Bag
An iTalk2 is a very popular communication aid used in classrooms across the country and it’s a great way of helping people with limited communication or non-verbal individuals decide between two activities or simply saying yes or no. Such an essential piece of kit needs to be kept safe and this can be achieved with a Trabasack Mini Connect iTalk2 bag. The Trabasack Mini Connect is perfectly designed for keeping your iTalk2 safe and means it won’t be at risk from any damage.
The iTalk2 is an extremely simple piece of equipment which rests on angled base which further increases accessibility. It allows for two minutes of recording time and includes to Snap Switch Caps which allows for the individual using the device to make their choices. The Trabasack Mini Connect is also a great platform from which the device can be accessed. The Trabasack Mini Connect includes a lap tray surface on one side and a soft beanbag cushion on the other which means it can rest comfortably in the lap and be used as a level surface for the iTalk2.
The Trabasack Mini Connect also benefits from the Connect surface on its tray. This
means that the surface is particularly receptive to Velcro hooks and so you can attach items to the surface and be assured they won’t roll off or fall and be damaged. This makes the trabasack very useful for switch mounting, especially for children using buggies or wheelchairs. When using your Trabasack Mini Connect as a iTalk2 bag, there are multiple carry options available. You can strap it to your back, around your waist or use its carry handles to use it like a briefcase, this is entirely you decision. However you decide to carry it, you can be assured that your iTalk2 is fully protected and secure.
The below video gives some more info about the iTalk2 and its functionality:
The positive impact of iPads for people with disabilities
Yes we know, everybody wants an iPad, they are one of the must-have items of the 21st century and if you haven’t got one, chances are you’re lusting after one. Despite their cult status as a symbol of power and technological prowess, there is evidence to suggest iPads are actually improving the lives of those with disabilities in a number of unexpected ways. Here we discuss just a few of the ways that an iPad can have a positive impact on a person with various disabilities.
- For Communication
Before the development of the iPad and its release on the general market, devices which use text-to-speech or touch-to-speak technology were extremely expensive, You would have been looking at, at least £1000 for a remotely serviceable device but now you can get your iPad for less than £400 and touch-to-speak apps such as Proloquo2go can be found for less than £120. This is extremely beneficial and can be life changing for non-verbal adults and children. Now, if your child with speech difficulties is thirsty they can let you know with real words. Many apps can also be customised and adapted to personally suit your specific needs with additional features such as photographs and such like.
There are apps which can be used by people with severe movement disorders and difficulty with speech. The Yes/No app allows for simple Yes and No responses and gives dignity to individuals who have may have no other means of easy communication. Such developments in technology truly are revolutionary for people who need them.
- For Learning
There are many specific apps and programs which are designed to help those with additional needs and disabilities. Apps have been designed and tailored to suit children and adults with specifics disabilities and play to the strengths of the individual in question rather than aiming for a standard “norm”.
There is sufficient evidence which suggests that many children defined as having an Autistic Spectrum Disorder respond very well to iPads and other tablet devices in a learning capacity and some SEN schools are beginning to implement this technology to support pupil’s learning.
Applications like Stories2Learn which help in the creation of social stories and Draw Free are really great for the development of children with additional educational needs and can be a great supplement at home for what’s learnt in school!
- For Therapy
There is much evidence which suggests that using an iPad can significantly increase the development of a child or adults fine motor skills. People born with low muscle tone sometimes find it hard to develop their fine motor skills but through consistent use of an iPad which requires very precise touch screen presses and sophisticated finger isolation these skills can slowly be coaxed and developed.
There is in fact an app called Dexteria specifically designed for developing your fine motor skills.
- For Behaviour Management
There are many great apps designed for helping parents, guardians and teachers manage and measure the behavioural developments of children with special needs. One of the most popular apps for this particular process is Behaviour Tracker Pro which allows for all types of assessments.
There are also great apps which can help young adults with learning disabilities further their independence such as Medication Reminder which will help remind you when to take your meds and Nudge which gives you reminders to keep on top of your to-do list or daily goals.
The iPad has thoroughly enhanced the lives of many people with additional needs and disabilities and their power cannot be underestimated. To confidently and comfortably use your iPad on the move, you should also consider buying a Trabasack which is perfect for housing your iPad but also works a portable desk if you fancy using it when you’re on the move or there’s no level surface available.