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Speaking of Apps

Speak Up For Parkinson's
April 21, 2014 11:08 AM by Megan Sutton

Biofeedback is an effective means of helping people to monitor and change their behaviors. Speak Up For Parkinson's is a free app for iPad that aims to help those with Parkinson's disease improve their speech. It provides biofeedback in the form of real-time volume monitoring and video review, and can also be used by those with other types of dysarthria, or even apraxia and aphasia.

  

Choose "Practice Your Speech" on the home screen to practice reading aloud or speaking. Select from two options: a randomized set of four phrases and sentences in "Words & Phrases", or use your own reading material or spontaneous speech in "Reading & Conversation". Both practice activities show a volume meter along the top of the app with a defined "Target Zone," along with a mirror image of the speaker. The goal is to speak loud enough to land in the Target Zone. 

 

The app records you with the front-facing video camera as you speak. When you are done speaking, you can watch your entire session. This feature is useful for raising awareness of closed mouth posture, articulatory undershooting, and masked facial expressions. Clinicians can add value to the app by asking clients to rate their performance on target goals while they watch the video playback.

This is a free app that will surely help many adults with hypokinetic dysarthria and other speech impairments practice at home. As always, there is some room for improvement should there be funding for future updates. The app is only available for iPads using iOS7. Ideally it would be a universal app and work on older operating systems to reach as many users as possible. I have experienced several crashes while using the app, so users who are easily put off by technical glitches may not enjoy using it. While there are several phrases and sentences in the app to practice, each session brings up four random selections. I would prefer to select which phrases and sentences appear, or at least repeat the same ones I had used before. It would also be very useful to be able to adjust the target zone.

In addition to the speaking practice, the app offers a few useful speaking tips  (maintain good posture, speak loudly, and breathe), information about the app's development, and info about the Northwest Parkinson's Foundation that funded the app. If you have an iPad running iOS7, download Speak Up For Parkinson's for free on the App Store.

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Where Has My Dog Gone?
April 14, 2014 7:47 AM by Jeremy Legaspi

                                                            

Where Has My Dog Gone is a fun free eight page story book app available for iPad. It's based on the classic song "Where Has My Dog Gone?". On each page of this book you can hear the familiar song sung while you interact with the dog and target 2-4 core vocabulary words. The words include a good selection of prepositions and verbs:

Out In Go Stop Up Down Above Below Run Behind Front On Off In Out Under Over Good Night

This app is great for work on prepositions or even with targeting core vocabulary with a child who uses AAC. The app has a simple interface and only requires the user to touch the flashing word to start the animations.

 

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Keyword Understanding: App Review
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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Vowel Viz & Vowel Viz Schools
March 31, 2014 12:23 PM by Jeremy Legaspi

Vowel Viz, ($29.99) by Complete Speech, is designed to show your vowel productions in real time. To accomplish this your vowel productions are plotted on the vowel quadrilateral. The plots are based on the app's recognition of the vowel formants (Remember those from speech science class??). The visualization uses a "vowel tail" to represent where the vowel is currently located in the vocal tract. The app is designed for people working on accent reduction or just vowels in general. As an SLP whose client base is 100% pediatric I was excited for the potential this had in the area of childhood apraxia of speech. The verdict after a few months of using this app with a variety of different clients (ages 2-5) was that they were for the most part unable to understand what we were trying to accomplish while using the app.

What I wanted from the app was some pictures that the child could approximate their "vowel tail" over to. For example if we were attempting the "oo" sound from "moo" I think there should be a cow that the "vowel tail" can travel to as they attempt to approximate it.  That being said Complete Speech just released Vowel Viz for Schools K-12 ($49.99) a pediatric friendly version of the app. The changes that are included are flashcards for each vowel and three different themes.  VowelViz schools is a separate app from the Standard version of VowelViz that will receive its own updates.  VowelViz schools is designed so that additional themes, flashcard sets, and other features can be added at a later time.  

  

   The new themes include default, flowers, and, planets.  In the flower and planet themes the IPA symbols for the vowels become either flower or planets. The "vowel tail" then becomes wither a bee or a space ship. The edition of these themes make them much friendlier for the pediatric population. Flying the bee or space ship to the respective flower or planet should prove to be fun for a majority of children!

Vowel Viz- $29.99

Vowel Viz Schools- $49.99

*Current VowelViz users will receive an update to the Standard VowelViz in early to mid April that will enable them to update to VowelViz schools via an in-app purchase.  The price of the upgrade will be the difference between the two apps

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1 comments »     
ClaroCom AAC
March 24, 2014 12:25 PM by Megan Sutton
In August, I compared 5 options for text-to-speech AAC for literate users without speech. One of the readers of this blog commented with the name of a similar app, so I checked it out. Within days, I was recommending this new app to many of my clients, so now I want to share it with you too.

ClaroCom USA is a free universal iOS app, making it accessible to anyone with an Apple mobile device. The app features hundreds of pre-stored messages, organized by topic. This makes it ideal for users with aphasia who have strong reading skills  (and fairly good dexterity) but need help with expressing a message.  Consider this app for clients who have difficulty typing or spelling as well as those with repetitive routines and requests.

 

Messages can be added, deleted, or rearranged. To use the app more efficiently, remove unnecessary items and move common phrases to the top of the lists.

 

Several of the phrases are stored with blanks, prompting the user to enter the specific item, title, or name when the phrase is selected.

 

The app also has word and phrase prediction for typing in a custom message.

 

Categories are listed alphabetically with symbol support to assist users to find the topic faster.

 

Go into the Settings to switch the voice from male to female, reduce the speaking rate, change the font size and style, and adjust display and prediction options.

 

Wifi is not required to use this app, but if connected, messages can easily be exported to the Mail or Messages apps or simply copied to the clipboard.

Upgrade to ClaroCom Pro USA ($13.99) for a larger dictionary, exporting to Facebook and Twitter, adding phrases through iTunes, adding custom categories, and display options for zooming and showing only the message when the device is flipped.

I hope you and your clients enjoy using this app. Please continue to share your feedback and suggestions in the comments so we can all learn from each other in this rapidly changing world of apps.

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Copy Me
March 17, 2014 2:14 PM by Jeremy Legaspi

Copy Me by Game Studio (Free) is a game developed to serve as an emotional development aid which may be helpful for children on with ASD. It was developed as a research product at the University of Technology, in Sydney, Australia. This app works by using facial recognition technology to track the users face via the iPad's front facing camera to match it to the predetermined emotion.

The emotions interface is broken down into:  Basic- Happy and Sad   Medium- Happy, Sad, Surprised, and Angry   Hard- Hapy, Sad, Surpised, Angry, Scared and Yucky.

        

  

This would be a nice addition to your therapy tool box. I found that sometimes you have to really exaggerate the facial expressions to get the software to recognize it. I think forcing an exaggeration of the facial expressions is a good thing because a majority of the children who I work with often have a hard time approximating anything other than happy, sad, or angry.  Through the facial recognition portion of the software the user can receives some kinesthetic awareness of how their own face should feel to convey these emotions.  That being said you will probably using this with an older child as a  younger child might become frustrated. If you do download the app fill out the quick survey to help them improve it!

Click here to get COPY ME for FREE on the App Store

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Anatomy Drawings for SLPs
March 10, 2014 2:15 PM by Megan Sutton

Remember back in 2012 when I told you about drawMD ENT and said "it's almost as if this app were designed for SLPs"? Well, now there actually is a medical anatomy app designed just for SLPs! Visible Health has given us even more anatomical drawings specific to the needs of Speech-Language Pathologists in their new app drawMD Speech-Language Pathology.

The full-color anatomical drawings include:

  • Head, Sagittal View with stamps for cutaway, laryngectomy, various tongue positions, and tracheostomy
  • Oral Cavity with stamps for various clefts, lingual frenulum, and bifid uvula
  • Larynx, Transverse View with stamps for nodules, webs, paralysis, reflux, and other vocal fold growths
  • Palate with stamps to show clefts and a palate expander
  • Larynx, Coronal View with stamps to show the trachea, larynx, hyoid, carotid artery, and vagus nerve
  • Brain, Left Side with stamps for a colored/labeled overlay
  • Thoracic with stamps for the lungs, heart, ribs, and diaphragm

 

 

Start with the drawings, a blank page, or import your own photo or drawing. Then use the stamp tool to add anatomical details to the area of the body you're educating your client about. The stamps can even be resized, faded, rotated, and reordered.  Use the pen to add arrows or draw your own sketches. A text tool lets you type anywhere on the drawing to add labels. Save drawings, print them, or email them directly to the client. You can add your name and contact info too (though the app still says "Physician's Name" despite this being the first drawMD app for allied health professionals).

 

 

For those who work with clients with hearing impairment, the drawMD ENT app may still be more useful. For those who don't need drawings of the ears, this app should cover all your anatomy needs for adult speech pathology. All the models are fully-grown, so if you're dealing with very little people, some adjustments may be required.

 

 

The developer is very open to feedback, and creating an account within the app makes it easy to request new artwork and access saved drawings and information between devices. Personally, I'd love to see the following additions:

  • Add stamps to the Brain view to show subcortical structures, label Broca's area, and show the cerebral arteries
  • Add a Brain, Transverse View with stamps for the cranial nerves
  • To the Head, add stamps for different tracheostomy arrangements (without cuff, with speaking valve), a nasogastric feeding tube, and an endoscope
  • Add a Head, Coronal View to show unilateral facial droop for stroke and Bell's palsy at rest and when smiling
  •  Add dysphagia illustrations with bolus locations, residue, penetration, and aspiration
  • Pediatric illustrations for infant feeding disorders and childhood speech impairments

Overall, this is another fantastic, free app to add to your iPad for more customized and convenient patient education.  Download drawMD SLP from the App Store.

 

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Break into the Word Vault
January 30, 2014 11:24 AM by Megan Sutton

First, I want to say how excited I am to be back blogging after a few very busy months away. There are many more apps and tips to share with you in 2014 from my perspective working with the adult population in speech pathology.  So without further ado, let's look at a new app!

Word Vault - Word Lists is a handy new app from Home-Speech-Home that I was recently given the chance to try out. This universal iOS app is a tool for therapists providing speech and language therapy to any age of client priced at $9.99. The no-frills interface is easy to navigate and provides access to tens of thousands of words and stimuli for a variety of therapy goals. The app is divided into four separate "vaults", each containing several lists of words and stimuli.

 

Word Vault is primarily a well-organized and searchable list of words - ideal for articulation, dysarthria, or apraxia therapy. Open either the Articulation Vault or Phonology Vault from the Home screen to find words by sound. Once a sound list is loaded, the words can be filtered by initial, medial, and fina position as well as syllable length. The display's font size and number of columns are also adjustable, allowing for low-vision use and controlling the amount of scrolling or distraction on screen.

 

For apraxia stimuli, look to a section of words called "Non-sense Syllables" in which consonants are paired with each of six vowels in a set order. The lists of "Multisyllabic Words" in the Phonology Vault are also helpful when looking for longer words on the fly. Clinicians treating dysarthria will appreciate having
"Minimal Pairs" listed out for each sound pair, right at their fingertips.

The Language Vault holds lists of words sorted by part of speech, but there are also pages and pages of other language stimuli: analogies, synonyms, categories, 1-4 step and conditional directions, multiple meanings, sequencing, and even short stories. The Social Vault holds conversation starters, idioms, proverbs, problem scenarios, and jokes ("Why wouldn't the crab share his sweets? Because he was a little shellfish!") - ideal for cognitive-communication goals in R CVA and TBI clients.

 

There are two fantastic features built into this app, aside from the plentiful content, that users will certainly appreciate. First, any list you bring up can be easily emailed off the device, so sending homework to your client is easier than ever. The second feature of note is that up to eight screens at a time can be pre-loaded for fast switching between lists. This can cut out navigation time in a group setting, when working with a client with multiple goals, or when there is no time to prep between clients.

 

  

The only caveat is that many of the language stimuli (problem solving, short stories, following directions, story starters, etc) are written for children. I wouldn't ask my stroke patients to tell a story about a "slimy monster, spaceship, and moon" to work on verbal expression, nor would I ask them to "stand up and then jump up and down two times" to practice auditory comprehension. As with any therapy materials, you'll want to pre-screen the items to make sure they're appropriate for your clients. Also note there are no sounds in this app, but there is a LOT of text.

All of the word lists and language stimuli are available for free on the developer's website, but having the Word Vault app installed on your iDevice so you can access, filter, email, and adjust the display of so many lists without network access just makes sense.

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Speech Therapy for Apraxia - NACD Home Speech Therapist
September 25, 2013 9:56 AM by Jeremy Legaspi
This app offers a great starting point for a child with childhood apraxia of speech (CAS). It offers  a variety of levels of CV sequences  and is organized by the approximate developmental sequence of consonants.  When working with children with CAS any approach should incorporate the principles of motor learning, if you are unfamiliar with the principles of motor learning please visit apraxia-kids.org . There are lots of opportunities to focus on motor learning especially the at the pre-practice through practice stages including random and blocked practice depending on which stage you choose. The stages are set up as follows:

Level 1-This level presents one syllable at a time to learn what each illustration is (receptive) and how to produce it (expressive). Start at this level each time a new consonant group is selected. This level can also be used when using the app to teach new phonemes.

Levels 2-8 should only be used if a user can produce the single syllables in Level 1.

Level 2-This requires the production of three repetitions of one syllable. Production of the third repetition should be just as clear as the first.

Level 3-This level requires the production of five clear repetitions of the same syllable.

Level 4-In this level the user produces four repetitions of the same syllable then must change to a different syllable at the end, containing the same initial sound, but a different vowel. Making these subtle changes in articulation is an important aspect of motor planning for speech.

Level 5-This level contains two syllables that alternate back and forth in the sequence.

Level 6-The syllables in this sequence start with the same consonant sound, differ in the vowel, and have a random arrangement within the sequence.

Level 7-This is a random arrangement of syllables with varied consonant and vowel sound, but all consonants are from the chosen consonant group.

Level 8-This is a random combination of any of the syllables that have been worked on through Level 7. There may be syllables that represent different consonant groups within the same sequence; therefore the user must have worked through Level 7 for at least two consonant groups before moving on to Level 8.

  

 

Data tracking was a recent update that is offered via in app purchase for $4.99, which allows you to track multiple clients as well as share data via email with parents. 

As I mentioned earlier this app offers a great starting point for child who is only making CV combinations which for most children with CAS is where you would most likely start. However children might quickly outgrow the app which is where their Apraxia Words app would come. Apraxia Words offers the next set of word shapes to target.  Ideally, I would like to see them combine both apps to make one that works from the CV stage on up.

Speech Therapy for Apraxia - NACD Home Speech Therapist $4.99  for iPad

The developer has provided me with 5 codes to give away.  Want a copy? Please comment below for a chance to win!

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26 comments »     
The Exception to the Rule
September 4, 2013 10:26 AM by Megan Sutton
I have always advocated that apps designed for kids should not be used with adults in speech therapy. Rules usually have exceptions, and my biggest exception to this rule has always been My PlayHome. Now, with the new My PlayHome Stores, there are two exceptions.

My PlayHome (universal iOS, $3.99, free lite version; Android, $2.99) is a virtual dollhouse with a living room, kitchen, kids' bedroom, master bedroom with walk-in closet, full bathroom, and backyard. Each scene is filled with elements that can be manipulated in realistic ways: the TV turns on and off, the curtains open and close changing the light in the room, the carrots in the garden grow when you water them, and the toilet flushes when you touch it. Characters can be added to interact with the environment: eating the food in the kitchen, drying off from the shower with the towel, trying on the clothes in the closets, and more.

My PlayHome Stores (universal iOS, $1.99) is the brand-new addition, allowing characters from the house to go around the corner to the stores on a street filled with an ice cream parlor, a clothing store, a produce market, a grocery store, and an ATM. Each store has interactive features and employees, increasing the number of topics to discuss and act out. These apps work seamlessly together, with characters from one moving into the other, bringing home their new clothes from the shop or taking a coffee along for the errands.

These apps work nicely for aphasia and cognitive therapy because they bring all the functional vocabulary of the home and community into the clinic, allowing clients to talk about and "act out" everyday activities from the therapy table. Most adults have no qualms about using the app when it is introduced as a structured activity. Here are examples of ways to target a variety of goals using the PlayHome apps in speech therapy:

Word Comprehension (in the back yard): Touch the watering can. Point to the tire swing. Find the trampoline.

Following Directions (in the kitchen): 1-step: Open the fridge. 2-step: Open the fridge and take out a slice of pizza. 3-step: Open the fridge, take out the milk, and pour a bowl of cereal. 

Understanding Prepositions (in the bathroom): Put the rubber duck under the sink. Put the toothpaste next to the razor.

Sequencing (in the house): Before you go to the kitchen, turn off the stereo.

After you flush the toilet, brush your teeth. Turn on the lamp before you close the curtains.

Naming in Context (in the living room): chair, coffee table, TV, stereo, fish tank, fish food, CDs, vase, flower, apple, book, plant, lamp, curtains, cat, pictures, frames, clock, window, door, ottoman, area rug, light switch, shelves

Problem Solving & Reasoning (in the house):  What might happen if we left the refrigerator door open? What can we do to turn off the music? What will make it brighter in this room?

Executive Functioning (both apps): Give the client a list of errands to run in "town," such as picking up some milk, bananas, juice, cash, and flowers at the stores. Add constraints such as first brushing teeth, changing clothes, and eating breakfast. Aid the client as they make a list of tasks, schedule time for each, estimate a budget for the errands, and plan a logical order. Once they've executed the tasks, review if it went as planned or what could be changed.

Barrier Game: Pick a room/store, arrange the items and people a certain way, then snap a screenshot (press power + home). Print out the screenshot from your Photos app, or email it so it can be seen on another screen.

  • Receptive: Give the client the iPad with a "tidied" room, then give verbal or written instructions on which people to add to the room, where they should go, and which elements to change or reposition so that they can arrange the screen to look like your screenshot. Compare and discuss where things went wrong.
  • Expressive: Give the client the screenshot to reference. Have them give you instructions on how to set the scene by describing each element's position. Great for using names, pronouns, and prepositions.
  • Memory: After studying a screenshot, the client has to arrange a scene to match what they saw in the picture. Add a delay or distraction to increase the difficulty, or add items from other rooms/stores for an additional problem-solving element.
2 comments »     
A Comparison of Text to Speech Apps
August 19, 2013 12:01 PM by Megan Sutton

Text-to-speech (TTS) apps convert typed text to voice output, similar to the Lightwriter dedicated AAC device. This type of app is useful for someone with intact literacy, language and cognitive skills; good manual control for typing; and adequate vision for small text. The user would most likely need this type of app because of a voice or speech impairment such as laryngitis, head or neck cancer, ALS, severe dysarthria, or verbal apraxia. While some picture-based AAC apps have text-to-speech as a component, the majority of TTS apps available do not include symbols.

I've taken a look at several key features in the top TTS apps to compare how each app stacks up to help you decide which is best for your clients. The apps included in this feature analysis are Speak it! Text to Speech, Assistive Express (formerly known as Assistive Chat), Predictable, and Verbally (free and premium). For comparison, I've also looked at the built-in features of iDevices, using the Notes app combined with the accessibility feature of Speak Selection to achieve the same TTS functionality without an additional app.

Format & Price:

Speak it! Text to Speech: Universal iPhone & iPad, $1.99

Assistive Express: Universal iPhone & iPad, $24.99

Predictable: Universal iPhone & iPad, $159.99

Verbally: iPad only, Landscape orientation only, free

Verbally Premium: iPad only, Landscape orientation only, $99.99

Notes: Universal iPhone & iPad, free

 

 

Word Prediction:

Speak it! Text to Speech: none

Assistive Express: yes, up to 6 words

Predictable: yes, up to 5 words on screen at a time with several more available

Verbally: yes, up to 4 words

Verbally Premium: yes, up to 4 words

Notes: none

 

 

Phrase Storage & History:

Speak it! Text to Speech: can save phrases and audio files, no history

Assistive Express: can save phrases to Favorites and access last 40 utterances

Predictable: can save phrases to categories and access history

Verbally: a few commonly used words and phrases are stored, but no ability to add phrases to the app for quick access - must upgrade for this functionality

Verbally Premium: can save phrases and access history

Notes: stores all words/phrases typed into the app, can delete lines

 

Export Options:

Speak it! Text to Speech: email saved audio files

Assistive Express: email, Twitter, Facebook, or copy to clipboard

Predictable: email, Facebook, Twitter; copy to clipboard coming in next version

Verbally: none

Verbally Premium: email

Notes: email, print, or copy to clipboard

 

 

Voices:

Speak it! Text to Speech: 2 male and 2 female voices (US & UK accent) with option to purchase several more for $1 each, high-quality Acapela voices with rate and volume control

Assistive Express: 1 male, 1 female, and 1 child voice (US accent) from Acapela, rate and volume control

Predictable: 4 male and 5 female voices (US, UK, & AUS accents), Loquendo voices from Nuance, pitch and rate are adjustable

Verbally: 1 male and 1 female low-quality synthesized voice

Verbally Premium: 1 male, 1 female, and 1 child voice (US accent) from Acapela; rate, pitch, and volume controls

Notes: built-in iOS voice (1 per dialect) with rate control in Settings app

 

 

Keyboard:

Speak it! Text to Speech: Built-in QWERTY

Assistive Express: Built-in QWERTY

Predictable: Custom QWERTY, ABCDEF, and high-frequency layout for scanning (options appear in the Settings app, not in the Predictable app itself)

Verbally: Custom QWERTY and Left/Right ABCDEF

Verbally Premium: Custom QWERTY and Left/Right ABCDEF

Notes: Built-in QWERTY

 

Additional Notes:

Speak it! Text to Speech: includes instruction on how to use this app while speaking on an iPhone call using the speakerphone

Assistive Express: additional settings for font size and when to speak; word prediction can be turned off

Predictable: accessible for scanning with a switch; includes limited symbol support and handwriting recognition

Verbally: Steady Hands setting lets users slide over the keyboard and only select on release; Premium features are visible with pop-up ads to upgrade when touched

Notes: must first select the text you wish to speak, which can be fussy

Conclusion: The best value for money for a universal app with word prediction, quality voices, and phrase storage is Assistive Express. If the user's condition is degenerative and physical access may deteriorate, Predictable is worth considering for its switch scanning capabilities. Speak it! is an inexpensive option without word prediction for those who type faster than they think, or for just a brief period of vocal rest.

 

6 comments »     
Pocket Artic
August 6, 2013 8:29 AM by Megan Sutton

Most articulation apps are designed to appeal to children, so it can be difficult to find one with appropriate content and design to use with adults with dysarthria or apraxia. For some time now, my go-to app for working on speech sound impairments has been Pocket Artic.

Pocket SLP's Pocket Artic ($9.99 universal iOS app, see note on Android at the bottom) features real photos, recorded voice, and thousands of stimuli for a variety of sounds. Each user profile is set up to store target sounds, preferred level (word/phrase/sentence), and data. If there is no time or desire to save a profile for a user, the QuickQuiz mode allows quick access to the materials. The app features 19 consonant phonemes, s/l/r blends, and six r-controlled vowels. Onscreen toggles between initial, medial, and final positions, as well as word, phrase, and sentence levels, make for easy adjustments during therapy. Score each production using the correct/approximate/incorrect buttons on screen, and take advantage of the built-in recording feature. If the client needs more information about the sound, press the "i" button to access a diagram of the tongue and palate similar to the Speech Tutor app.

 

There are a few issues with this app that detract from usability. Not all audio files match the printed text exactly, tripping up clients as they practice. It can also be difficult to remember to swipe right-to-left to change stimuli because the flipping animation makes it appear that an upward swipe would change the page. Getting started with the app is something that must be learned, as the home screen doesn't offer a clear direction. Perhaps the biggest problem with Pocket Artic is that it is missing the phonemes /w, zh, y, h/; these sounds have the common element that they don't appear in all positions of English words, but they are common speech targets. While many reviewers have experienced some crashes with various versions of this app, the developers have responded with 15 updates in 3 years.

  

For Android users, there is an older version of this app available on the Google Play store. It costs a bit more, comes in separate phone and tablet versions, and is called Pocket SLP. It does not have all the same features and bug fixes as the latest iOS version.

Which apps do you use for articulation goals with your adult speech clients?

1 comments »     
Write to Talk
July 23, 2013 11:31 AM by Megan Sutton

Handwriting comes more naturally than typing for many adults and is likely to be better preserved after neurological injury or disease. For those who have lost their ability to speak, a voice-output app may be the best way to be heard. However, nearly all voice-output communication apps require the user to type in a message, leaving those without keyboarding skills in the lurch. Two AAC apps offer writers a chance to hear their words by converting handwriting to text, then text to speech.

HandySpeech (universal iOS app for $29.99) excels at recognizing print, script and mixed case writing and outputting it in high-quality artificial speech. Voices can be male or female in US or UK English accents; 11 other languages are available for in-app purchase of $2.99 each. The app requires an Internet connection (wifi or 3G) for speech output, though if none is available, the user can work around the problem by selecting the text and making use of the device's text-to-speech function.

 

There are many settings to help the app better recognize handwriting, including the ability to exclude letter shapes that are rarely or never used. Users can type directly into the app if desired, as well as paste text from other apps. A great feature of this relatively low-cost AAC app is the ability to store phrases for quick communication.  Unfortunately, the only way to save phrases is to type them in through the settings, excluding the handwriting user from the process of storing messages.

 

Handwriting-to-speech is one of many features included in the full-service AAC app Predictable (universal iOS app for $159.99). While Predictable lacks the variety of settings to improve handwriting recognition, it offers the ability to use the voice when the device is not connected to the Internet. You can also easily output your message to email, Facebook, Twitter and SMS, or add it to the stored phrases list. Unfortunately, this app's useful word prediction feature does not work when using handwriting input. It is also difficult to insert spaces between words when combining handwritten phrases.  

For an app that turns handwriting to text without the voice output, please look back at my previous post on MyScript Memo.

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Adjust the Volume
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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Language Lab: Spin & Speak –Social Skills
June 26, 2013 9:10 AM by Jeremy Legaspi
Language Lab: Spin & Speak -Social Skills targets language and social skills. This is created by both Speech With Milo and PRC (Prentke-Romich Company) who have a few other apps targeting language/AAC use as well. This app is very similar to Speech With Milo's Articulation Board Game however instead of speech sounds different social scenarios pop up and the student must provide an answer for the question. Game play allows for up to 5 players to play at once and data tracking is provided for percent correct, incorrect, and assisted.

The categories of social questions asked follows the functions in the QUAD profile that are based on M.A.K Halliday's Explorations in the Functions of Language. These categories include: Requesting/Instrumental, Directing Activities/ Regulatory, Information Exchange/ Interactional, Personal, Discovery/Heuristic, and Imaginative.

Below are some examples of the type of questions that are asked. They are incredibly relevant to children's daily social routines.

 

 

Now I know what you're thinking. The student's I work with do not use an augmentative communication device device so should I buy this app? The answer is yes! Just because it's developed by PRC does not mean you cannot use it with any children working on their language or social skills.  However if you are going to use it with an augmentative communicators, this app focuses on all six stages of language development making it a great app to use. If you are interested in learning more about the six stages of language development please visit http://www.aaclanguagelab.com/.

 

 

 

 

Language Lab: Spin & Speak -Social Skills is available on the iPad for $4.99

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