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Speaking of Apps

Adjust the Volume

Published July 8, 2013 8:57 AM by Megan Sutton

Vocal intensity, or volume, is frequently a target of adult speech therapy. Clients with Parkinson's disease often speak too softly, those with TBI may speak too loudly or too softly, and clients with dysarthria from stroke may be too loud or too quiet. Speaking too softly can make it difficult to communicate effectively, while speaking too loudly can be socially inappropriate or convey the wrong sentiment.

While many clients will need specialized voice training, such as LSVT, to increase their volume, others may benefit from a simple visual reminder of how loudly or softly they are speaking to modify their volume. While there are several apps that measure volume, there are a few that do a nice job of showing an acceptable range for therapeutic purposes.

Voice-o-Meter: A universal iOS app for only $0.99, this app was developed by an SLP. This app allows you to set a range of target volume in dB and shows the current volume with an arrow moving up and down along the range. There are scoring buttons to collect data on whatever your goal is. Results can then be emailed at the end of the session. An optional chime will sound when the volume reaches the upper limit. The advantages of this app include clear visuals, flexible data tracking, and price.

 

Inside Voice: A free universal iOS app that is not particularly elegant in its design, but achieves its purpose. Pinch or expand the circle to the target range and let the app "listen" as it draws lines in green or red to reflect whether the volume is inside the circle or outside, a nice visual for using your "inside" voice. When the volume is repeatedly outside the circle, an alarm will sound. There are no values associated with the acceptable range, but as ambient noise and distance from the device vary, this is usually not a problem. There is no data collection, but the app is suitable for home use or as a subtle reminder.

 

Three apps I've mentioned in previous posts warrant another mention on this topic. Decibel 10th (free, universal iOS) suits the needs of those who want data. The display reads out the volume in dB and shows a graph. Detailed data can be exported. SpeechPrompts ($19.99, universal iOS) has very flexible visuals and the easiest adjustment of acceptable levels on the fly, but is missing data collection. Bla|Bla|Bla (free, universal iOS) won't give you any data either, but it is fun and encourages louder volumes.

 

Noise Meter (free, Android) is an overly complex app for everyday therapy needs, but it's worth mentioning because it has the unique feature of giving a vibration when noise exceeds a set range. For clients who need a subtle reminder to keep their voices down, the quick buzz may be enough. I would love to see this feature added to one of the iPhone apps above for discreet reminders during other therapy tasks.

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