Speech Prompts – Finally an App for Prosody!
An app developed for children with ASD, SpeechPrompts by HandHold Adaptive is designed to help speech therapists target rate, rhythm, intonation, and loudness. Combining a loudness meter with a waveform comparison tool, this univeral iOS app is one of the few SLP apps to target prosody. As a rehab therapist, I would use this app with patients with dysarthria, mild apraxia, TBI, or voice disorders. As a well-tested clinical tool, the $20 price tag on the App Store seems reasonable.
VoiceMatch: The heart of this app, VoiceMatch provides a "Teacher" audio clip and waveform to visually represent the speech. You can use one of the 50 included speech samples of functional phrases ("Can I borrow that?", "I didn't hear you", "It's almost time to go home") or record your own speech. So long as the "teacher" (likely an SLP or parent) and "student" (child, client, patient) are the same distance from the mic, the idea is that the student can try to match the waveform. There is a handy clipping tool in case the student doesn't start right away or you want to isolate a specific segment of speech. It's fairly easy to see if all the words were included, if the intensity is similar, and where the emphasis is. This visual model is great for children or adults working on prosody. Both the model and test recording can be played back at normal speed or slowed down to ¾ or ½ speed.
Voice Chart: There are other apps for volume, but this is the best app I've seen for visually representing whether vocal volume is within an acceptable range with really useful adjustments. The gist is that volume is measured with a rising and falling color block (yellow, green, and red like a traffic light) while an image changes to match. There are sliders on the graph to easily adjust where each level begins and ends. Within the "edit" menu, the user can set the sensitivity of the mic on a slider between quiet room and noisy room, as well as customize the pictures. For the younger set, Bear graphics show "too quiet," "just right," and "too loud." For older students, Emoticons show a flat expression, smiley face, and hushing face. For literate adults, I would probably choose the Words - plain words on a colored background. The app includes the ability to add custom Pictures to each of the 3 volume levels, a feature that could probably be used to motivate children who want to see an image of their favorite character when they get their volume in the correct range. There are no absolute values for volume, but as conditions and distances change, the relative ranges work really nicely.
User Guide: There are good instructions within the app, and it's fairly easy to use once you orient yourself. If needed, there is a detailed user guide and video on the website.
Registration: On opening the app, a registration screen pops up. It claims that registering will make it easier to share and print your content, but since there's currently no obvious ways to do either, I'm not sure how registering will help. I pressed "No Thanks."
Navigation: Of the six icons at the bottom of the screen, only two are the main functions of the app (VoiceMatch & VoiceChart). The others look just as important, but are just the library, other apps by the company, help, and an about screen. Within the Library are three categories: Images, Audio, and Video. This app only makes use of the Audio category, aside from choosing images for the VoiceChart. I'm not clear why there is a Video category or images of over 300 everyday objects in the app except that they appear to be part of another app. Clutter makes it hard to navigate and get to the really good features of this app.
Features: This app does not save/export student recordings or keep data, which would be useful features for an update. It would be great if you could change the titles "Teacher" and "Student" to real names for even more motivation and clarity. While not a "con" per se, this is definitely a therapeutic tool for a professional. It is not an app I would recommend casually for home use.
I'm very grateful to have received a copy of SpeechPrompts to evaluate and can see making good use of it in the future. I love that it can be used equally well with children and adults for common speech therapy goals. How would you use this