This site has been put together to be the definitive collection of AAC (Alternative & Augmentative Communication) Apps for the iPod, iPhone & iPad. Why do this when the appstore already exists? Well simply put its not exactly easy to find these things! Its also nice to have an overview of what the developers mean when they write hyperbole such as "the Ultimate communication app!" from a more independent source.
The site has been together as a result of a talk at BETT 2011, by Will Wade, an Occupational Therapist at the ACE Centre, Oxford. You can take a look at this presentation and a rather lengthy, but comprehensive view of the iPod, iPhone & iPad for communication here. Although initially created by Will you are invited to add, and keep the list up-to-date and fresh.
Some background to the database and its structure
In an attempt to order and structure the apps I have tried to create a categorisation which I hope makes sense. In general all apps have one category but it is now possible to have multiple categories for an app.
- AAC:Text To Speech (TTS) is perhaps the largest category. These are largely apps targeting the mainstream with an emphasis on "fun" rather than practical but you can find some incredibly cheap gems in here!
- AAC:Symbols in Grid based system is the term I am using to perhaps the most commonly regarded "communication" software. Imagine dynavox, liberator, Grid 2, type software and you will start to see what I mean
- AAC:Word Predictor. Word Predictors aren't that common on the appstore. A shame since its perhaps the most needed area of software on the platform.
- AAC:Phrase Bank is a term which is something I am suggesting is between a grid system, a TTS system and a set phrase system. The key between this and the next category is that you can change the phrases.
- AAC:Set Phrases Phrases that can't be changed. These are typically apps designed for a particular audience (e.g. Intensive care)
- AAC:Eye Pointing. It may sound strange at first but there are a few apps that are targeting eye pointing; that is for AAC users who usually use a chart with eye movements detected by a communication partner. It is questionable at how good the iPod is but if it works for you..!
- AAC:Photo Story are apps that are being used to tell stories, e.g. weekend news. Photos are typically put in a slideshow - either operated manually or automatically - with audio to go with it.
- AAC:PECS Picture Exchange Communication System is a popular communication system for many children. Moving on from PECS can be a challenge and that is where these apps sit
- AAC:Other A miscellaneous category for anything not fitting in elsewhere
- Access:Screen Reader Screen reading is built into the iOS device with VoiceOver however it does change the gestures required to operate the device. If you require text to speech to help you read some text on a web page (e.g. Dyslexia) then these may be useful
- Education:Support A particular concern is how children record their work. These apps have been chosen as they help individuals record their work in different ways
- Education:Language Development Many of the AAC apps actually fit within this area as well however there are some that are specifically looking at developing language skills. For example phonics and spelling
Speech output is obviously important for any AAC device. The entries in the database have attempted to break down how each app is using speech output. Its not vitally important but it can be important to a user coming from a different platform who is already used to a certain voice.
- Recorded Many apps use a communication partners voice recorded for the voice output. Note that on a iPod or iPad you will need a microphone to make this work!
- Synthesised:AT&T Synthesised speech from the AT&T. Provided under the brand name of Natural Voices. A range can be trialled here
- Synthesised:Acapela One of the most popular TextToSpeech engines available. Somewhat limited when it comes to childrens voices however. A range of their voices can be trailled here
- Synthesised:RealSpeak Also known as Cepstral voices - the company that makes these. A range can be found here
- Synthesised:NeoSpeak. Neospeech have created a small range of apps showing off their TTS engine. A web demo can be seen here
- Synthesised:FestivalLite/CMU/Openears. Also known as Flite or as some developers call it "the CMU speech engine". This is one of a few opensource (i.e. free) speech synthesis engines available on the net. Its generally not as high quality as some of the paid-for systems but does benefit from a broad range of voices and adjustability. See here for more info (or here if you are a developer - please include the regional voices as demonstrated here!). Openears info can be found here
Symbols support language for numerous individuals by providing a eas
We collect the physical size of an app to help those purchasing a device to work out how much space they need. Its not an exact science; many apps often expand their size with in-app downloads such as voices and symbols but it should help to point you in the right direction!
Apps are generally designed for either the iPod/iPhone or iPad, or specially designed for both. It gets a little confusing; if an app has been designed for the iPod or iPhone it WILL work on the iPad but be scaled up twice the size - so it can look a little odd and things like rotation of the app usually doesn't work perfectly. As such if you are looking for a native app for the iPad look for apps that are either Both+ or iPad,