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Speaking of Apps

Keyword Understanding: App Review

Published April 7, 2014 2:24 PM by Megan Sutton

Auditory comprehension at the sentence level is a common goal for students with language disorders and adults with brain injuries. Many apps focus on single-word comprehension, so it's nice to see one that offers sentence-level work on a few target words to step-up the difficulty.

Keyword Understanding is a new app for iPad by Lorraine Curran. The app uses 30 common nouns, 5 colors, 2 sizes, and 2 temporal directions to create a large number of comprehension exercises for following directions.  The app is laid out in a logical hierarchy and tracks performance. It can be used for informal assessments, language therapy (provided you supply additional cues and strategies), and home practice. It can also be used to target auditory attention and working memory for cognitive-communication goals.


First, check your client's understanding of the basic concepts using "Comprehension Check." Test each category of words separately, hearing "touch the ___" for objects, and "which one is _____?" for colors (blue, red, pink, yellow, green) and sizes (big and small). 



"Information Carrying Words" is the next activity; select from 2, 3, 4, or 6 words in the directions. Select photos to match the stated color and object; then work on identifying colors, sizes, and objects; and finally move up to picking two items described with various adjectives. Order does not matter when selecting multiple items, allowing users to work backward through their memory to get all the details. When I used this app with a client with receptive aphasia, I was impressed by how challenging the harder levels were for him without text on the screen.



The "Temporal Directions" activity allows you to focus on "before," "after," or both words, as well as put them in the beginning, middle, or any part of the sentence. Order does matter in this activity, requiring careful processing. While these aren't functional directions for everyday life, they do motivate clients to really listen and plan their responses.

The Options of the app are very customizable, allowing you to present instructions in text to work on reading, hear audio only, or go for total stimulation with both. Each object and color can be turned on or off, so if a user doesn't understand a specific word or you want to limit the exercises to a smaller set, you can adjust accordingly.

There is some room for improvement in the app. The automated voice in the app (Siri) is not always clear, especially for people with comprehension deficits. I don't see the lack of visual/auditory rewards in the app as a downside; however, children who need lots of encouragement and feedback won't find it here. This app is only available for iPads using iOS7 because it uses the new automated voice feature, making it inaccessible for people still using first generation devices. The developer has let us know there will be a free trial version and iPhone compatibility coming in future updates.

Keyword Understanding is on sale for half price throughout April to celebrate Autism Awareness Month. Regular price is $11.99 USD, available on the App Store.

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posted by Megan Sutton


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XRumerTest XRumerTest, , Test, just a test XRumerTest January 7, 2018 3:59 AM

Hello. And Bye.

XRumerTest XRumerTest, , Test, just a test XRumerTest March 30, 2017 8:43 AM

I would use this APP with my 4 year old daughter who has Autism. She is finally beginning to speak after 3 years of intensive therapy. We use APPs to help motivate her, while educating at the same time.

Michelle Cooper April 9, 2014 7:25 PM
Round Rock TX

I would let my brother use this app.

Chrif April 9, 2014 2:32 PM

I often have clients who need to work on both auditory and written directions, so the option to have both is spectacular. Seems versatile and I look forward to checking it out.

Kristin Kenseth, SLP April 9, 2014 1:09 PM
Madison WI

Looks interesting.  At times I have kiddos who are distracted by the reinforcement/sounds built in to apps (which many times cannot be turned off).  So for those kiddos, and for older ones who need to work on the skills targeted with this app but don't want to feel babied, this would be nice to have "in the toolbox".  Thanks for the review!

Cassandra Stafford April 8, 2014 9:48 PM

This looks like a great way to work on basic concepts for ID students or adults. Always exciting to see new apps! Thanks!

Alison, , SLP Public school April 8, 2014 8:13 PM
Norman OK

This is a great way to practice temporal concepts without  making the students feel babied.  The ability to adjust the field size gives this app the flexibility needed for groups.  Thanks for the review!

Donna, Pediatric - SLP, Imagine South Lake Charter April 8, 2014 7:48 PM
Clermont FL

These are all concepts I frequently work on or train graduate students I supervise to work on.

Jennifer April 8, 2014 5:24 PM

I hope I will win!

Wassi Chamsy Pivont April 8, 2014 12:37 PM

Looks helpful!

Tiffany J, , SLP Boston Public Schools April 8, 2014 6:21 AM
Watertown MA

Looks good! I can already think of many of my pediatric and adult clients that would benefit!!

Noriko Simpson, Speech pathology - SLP, Private. practice April 8, 2014 12:02 AM
San Ramon CA

I have students on my caseload who are working on the concepts of before and after.  This app would be great for them!

Carrie Walls April 7, 2014 11:59 PM

Would love to use this app with my son!

Larra April 7, 2014 9:09 PM
Lumberton TX

Ah so excited.  I feel like I have most of the "big" apps out there that work with adults so it's exciting to see a new one to add to my wishlist.  My ipad is huge in my therapy with CVAs.  I had a pt with receptive aphasia recently who would have benefited from this app.

Jaclyn Gulasy April 7, 2014 5:49 PM

Dean is good with single word directions so he would be ready for something like this and I can't think of another app that does this. We are working very hard on concepts and left / right. I'm on my own for speech this summer so would love something new.

Jill Goodman April 7, 2014 4:11 PM
Orlando FL

Denise - Good question! You can't control the field size. It's either 2, 4 or 8 based on the activity. Most have 4, but some comprehension checks have 2, and some Information Carrying Words levels have 8.

Megan Sutton April 7, 2014 3:55 PM

Wow, what a great app.  This would be perfect for my hearing impaired kiddos who are working on critical elements!

Ashley Jones April 7, 2014 3:52 PM

This looks great!  How does the field size work?  Can you control how many total images are shown or is that a set number?

Denise Ferremi April 7, 2014 3:11 PM

I do like the size and temporal aspects of this app for an initial eval...looks like a nice way to get a quick idea on direction following.

Laura Hurd April 7, 2014 3:08 PM

This app looks like it's similar to the HearBuilder product that SuperDuper makes, but I could use it for my adult clients or pediatric clients. I'll try it! Thanks for the review Megan!

Lindsey Hall April 7, 2014 3:04 PM

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About this Blog

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