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Speaking of Apps

Picture Dictionaries for AAC

Published March 11, 2013 10:08 AM by Megan Sutton

The most useful book in my therapy room is the Oxford Picture Dictionary, 2nd Edition, Monolingual. It has pictures of EVERYTHING in it, all nicely labeled in English and displayed in visual scenes to give context. There's also nothing childish about it, so I recommend purchasing it to most of my clients with aphasia. For those who need a pocket-sized version, I also use and recommend the ICOON picture dictionary. Imagine my excitement when I recently found both of these books available as APPS!

Oxford Picture Dictionary, 2nd Edition is a universal app for iOS priced at $9.99 for the full version, or try Unit 1 for free. The app contains both English and Spanish, so it's perfect for those working in bilingual communities. Organized by category, the app uses the same scenes as the book to show vocabulary. Touch the white dot on a scene or the speaker icon under a word to hear the word or phrase pronounced (something the book could never do!). My paper copy is filled with sticky tabs to help me find the most useful pages; the app allows you to bookmark a word electronically for quick-reference. It even has a search function, which is certainly welcome since my paper copy's index is well used.




One thing that I really like about the paper copy is that people with aphasia can flip through it to find what they're looking for, whereas the app requires category navigation that can be confusing for language-impaired individuals. However, at about a third of the price of the book and with voice-output, it's certainly worth having for communication support and independent practice of speech and reading.

The ICOON global picture dictionary offers fewer words and features, but for only $0.99, it's a handy app for aphasia communication support, naming therapy, and travel.  While designed for the iPhone, this app can be used at 2x size on the iPad with some loss of picture quality. ICOON is similar to the Oxford dictionary in the way it is organized by category, but this app has no labels or voice output. In some ways, this is an advantage: often the communication partner can read the word but the person with aphasia is interpreting the picture outside the label, so this app forces both partners to interpret the meaning together. When used as a therapy tool, the lack of labels promotes naming practice. 




Most of the pictures are simple black and white line drawings, with a few color photos for the food items.  The vocabulary is selected for world travelers, which makes it quite functional for talking about basic needs, feelings, and simple concepts. In this case, I do prefer the book to the app since it includes far more words and color pictures, but again the price is a bargain and the electronic format is readily available on my device.

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posted by Megan Sutton


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About this Blog

    Speaking of Apps
    Occupation: Speech-Language Pathologist
    Setting: Rehabilitation
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