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About

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

Categories

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
  • Education:Maths
  • Education:Science
  • Education:Other

Speech

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

Symbols support language for numerous individuals by providing a eas

  • Photos are most commonly available to use since all devices (apart from the iPad) now have an inbuilt camera and the ability to sync with your computers photo library. Photos are often regarded as being the most useful to support language - as long as the photo is clear and unambiguous as to its subject and it can be time consuming to get photos for everything.
  • Symbols:SymbolStix This symbol library, designed for a symbol based newspaper that goes out to schools and children across America is updated frequently and contains often topical and mainstream symbols. Do be aware though - although the symbol library is updated frequently, these updates may not be making it to your phone/pod depending on the licencing agreements and how often the app developer wants to import the updates. More info on symbolstix can be found here
  • Symbols:PCS These symbols, one of the most common symbols is provided with a popular chart making piece of software; Boardmaker but can be expensive for app developers to use hence the small amount of apps supporting them
  • Symbols:Bliss As much as a language on its own than a support to words and letters bliss has around 3000 symbols that are designed to be combined to create sentences. See here for more info
  • Symbols:Makaton. Makaton symbols are part of the makaton communication system, orginally designed in the 1970s for children with learning disabilities and now used to support language amongst a wide range of individuals. For more info see their website
  • Symbols:Ablenet
  • Symbols:Widgit Symbols
  • Symbols:Minspeak
  • Symbols:Opensource. As well as the more expensive (but well developed) symbol libraries there have been attempts to develop free/opensource symbol systems. Examples include Mulberry, ARASAAC, Picto.
  • Size

    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!

    Devices

    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,

    Comments

    Submitted by Vanessa Rogers (not verified) on April 12, 2011 - 09:38

    Hi Will,

    We have met a couple of times at the ACE centre, I'm the SLT at Frank Wise and John Watson. Frank Wise are having a big focus on using iPads in the classroom (they've got 5 iPads already and have just ordered 15 iPad 2s!) I am helping out with deciding which apps to put on them. They have got proloquo2go on the first lot of iPads and are not going to put it on the new ones, to keep costs down. Instead, they have gone for the TapSpeak range for the new ones. I think they will work well for lots of our children (especially TapSpeak Choice), but the only thing they lack is the opportunity to work on sentence building. Do you know of any other decent apps for working on sentence building which are less pricey than proloquo? I will have a browse through your list later, but thought I'd just be lazy and ask!

    Thanks in advance - great site by the way - very useful!

    Vanessa

    Submitted by Heather (not verified) on December 19, 2011 - 18:34

    A couple new app's this year are Sono Flex and Touch Chat. You can get the Lite version of Sono Flex to try out for free, and the paid version is $99. Touch Chat is from Saltillo who makes some of the standard communication devices and it is $149.

    They are both set up more for sentence generation. Hope this helps.

    Submitted by Patricia moody (not verified) on June 10, 2011 - 00:39

    I would like it if you can offer this it could help alot for my parents and new providers in uses my teaching too. And my speech therapies.

    Submitted by G. Brandt (not verified) on July 28, 2011 - 19:06

    Hi Will,

    thank you for putting your time and work into this site. I think it really helps a lot. But did the list of apps shrink since yesterday? Today there are only about 60 - 70 apps but yesterday and before there were about 130 - 140 apps - or am I doing something wrong?

    Kind regards
    Gerald

    Submitted by Nora (not verified) on October 3, 2011 - 18:21

    Does this app work on the itouch as well? Is that in the category of ipods?

    Submitted by Amie Woghiren (not verified) on November 4, 2011 - 14:33

    Hi Will

    This is a great website :)

    I was just wondering if you had heard of any ipad-compatible apps to help aphasic people email? I have a patient who is totally non verbal, at the moment he chooses handwritten phrases from a choice of 3/4 and then we type them up for him. Are there any apps that you know of which combine emails/phrase prediction?

    Amie Woghiren

    SLTa

    Submitted by willwade on November 4, 2011 - 16:14

    Hi Annie
    A couple of things spring to mind. Have you seen Predictable: http://appsforaac.net/app/predictable ? It not only does prediction but can also be used for written input - might work for the client in mind. Predictable does have some email functionality too. Take a look at some more prediction apps here..

    Submitted by Angie M (not verified) on November 25, 2011 - 13:23

    Hi, what a fantastic site - inspired me to get my 17 year old AAC user an iPad for her birthday which for some reason she is more interested in using than her communication aid! We know about a couple of switch accessible apps but these are really expensive, ie Predicable and Scene and Heard. We are going ahead to buy Predictable but wondered if there is a less expensive switch accessible photo story app in development similar to Scene and Heard? We intend using it for communication passport, talking photo album, quick presentations of school work.

    Submitted by Valerie (not verified) on January 6, 2012 - 03:46

    Hi - thank you for this comprehensive list. I noticed that Verbally did not come up when Text-to-speech was selected. There is also a Premium Version available that has more features. Please contact me if you would like a promo code for this. Thanks!
    Valerie
    val@intuary.com

    Submitted by Carole Zangari (not verified) on February 6, 2012 - 23:55

    Thanks for the wonderful resources on this site. I love the easy comparison tool. Can't wait to share this with my online students tonight!

    Submitted by Kimberly Herriger (not verified) on March 14, 2012 - 12:48

    To Whom it May Concern;

    My name is Kimberly Herriger. I am a graduate student at Seton Hall University studying speech-language pathology. I am in the process of writing a paper that reviews 22 apps for the iPad and I have decided to include your app. I was wondering if you could send me a preferred citation for your app and website to include in the reference section of the paper. I want to make sure that the apps are cited with as much information as possible. Additionally, I was wondering if after the app is downloaded, the user can receive a manual for ease of set up and use. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

    Sincerely,
    Kimberly Herriger

    fiona's picture

    Submitted by fiona on May 31, 2012 - 18:54

    Hi Kimberly

    Over the last number of months I have been developing an app for AAC for the iPad as I have struggled to find an app suitable for the commmunication needs of the students in my class. My app - image2talk - is due for launch in the coming weeks. It involves instant speaker output when real images are tapped and the interface design completely eliminates the need to navigate through category and menu pages. In the settings there are functions to develop emerging speaker and reader skills. I use image2talk with non verbal students and students with emerging speaker skills. If you would like any more information on image2talk please do not hesitate to contact me. The website will be up and running in a couple of weeks but in the meantime there is a facebook page - image2talk. Thanks Fiona

    Submitted by KhengWah Koh (not verified) on April 12, 2012 - 11:21

    Hi Will
    How are you?
    Just checking if you had the chance to find some time in last few months to review the Picture AAC app? I've met with several speech-language therapists and special education professionals in the past few months and am happy to get very consistent positive feedback from them. They love the app for the many little details in its design that make the difference. I will like to get as much inputs from professionals like you to help me decide my apps development plans for the rest of the year. I've updated website with various useful info: http://heartyspin.com/autism-apps/
    Btw, will be great if you can add PECS, Educational Support and Language Development categories to Picture AAC app.

    Thanks
    KhengWah

    Submitted by Janet (not verified) on April 29, 2012 - 18:00

    I wanted to let you know about a new app called Conversation Coach which can be used either like an aac device or to teach back and forth 2-way conversations. It includes over 1,400 photos in the full version. There is also a lite version available. For more information, see http://www.silverliningmm.com

    Submitted by sarah woodward (not verified) on May 8, 2012 - 10:06

    do you think this would be a useful app to feature? It could be very useful for helping to develop conversation/turn taking skills. The conversation topics can be customised so it could be used with all age groups. I really like it and think it's got some real potential for practising the very functional skills required for effective communication aid use. I am happy to do a description if people think it's useful?...

    Submitted by brucehelmbold on September 17, 2012 - 17:09

    Hello,
    Just wondering if the AppsForAAC developers had considered posting a disclaimer? Here are some examples from other App websites:

    Therapy 444 Disclaimer:
    “TherapyApp411 is a collaborative app review and news blog designed to reflect individual clinicians' experience with mobile apps in therapy. Reviews posted here are not intended as a blanket endorsement of a particular app or any other form of technology.
    This blog is not designed to replace skilled evaluation and interventions by a speech-language pathologist (SLP), classroom teacher, specialist or other therapist.
    Readers should use their professional judgment in assessing whether recommendations here would apply to your individual students or clients and assess progress as appropriate.
    We are all firm supporters of evidence-based and research-based practices. We acknowledge that apps are an emerging technology, and that individual apps are unlikely to have been subjected to studies. Particularly with apps that can be used for language therapies, we encourage clinicians to consider apps as a context around which evidence-based practices can be woven based on their clinical judgment (for example, in pre- and post- activities that utilize a context similar to the app), in the same way that books, games, and toys have traditionally been used as therapeutic contexts.”
    http://www.therapyapp411.com/p/disclaimer.html

    BridgingApps Disclaimer
    “Readers and viewers are reminded that the views expressed at
    BridgingApps are opinions only. We acknowledge that others
    may disagree with our supplementary information as they relate
    to apps. We reiterate that our intentions are motivated
    solely by the desire to assist families, friends, and professionals
    who help children with a variety of abilities use app technology
    appropriately. Reviews of apps are of the app as it existed
    at the time of the review and may not account for any
    changes in the app when and if a new version is released.
    No warranty is made as to the accuracy or completeness of
    any information on this site. Any information provided herein
    is not intended as medical advice. BridgingApps urges users to
    seek additional professional advice regarding any concerns
    about a child’s health or development.”
    Insignio Manual, VERSION 1, BRIDGINGAPPS.ORG INSIGNIO APP SEARCH TOOL, page 16

    Boston’s Childrens Hospital
    “Our Goal:
    It is not our intent to review every app or media device that has been or will soon be released. Rather our goal is to provide a framework, based upon well established clinical considerations for feature matching a person's strengths and needs to available tools and strategies (Shane and Costello, 1994), and apply that to comparing and selecting an iDevice platform and apps (refer to Table). Only through an informed clinically based selection, can we minimize the emerging trend toward selecting communication apps based on the robustness of media coverage, public testimonials or recommendations from well meaning friends and family.
    To this end, a chart was created to detail the features known to be vital considerations for a broad profile of people with complex communication needs. Not all of these features currently exist in apps thus highlighting the need to match a person’s needs to the right tools and strategies and NOT try to fit a person to a specific platform or app. In addition, this chart should be considered as dynamic ( the number of communication apps is constantly growing as is the scope of available features).”
    http://www.childrenshospital.org/clinicalservices/Site2016/mainpageS2016...

    Submitted by Mark on October 1, 2012 - 23:28

    I'm fairly sure Talk Tablet uses Symbolstix but Appsforaac suggests symbol library is unknown. Is there a reason for this?
    Thanks

    Submitted by Mattroach on February 2, 2014 - 16:09

    How do I actually down load the apps I wish to use

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