The year has only just begun and already the good news for people with disabilities is pouring in. Change is in the air, and this time it comes from Israel. Finally, after years of lobbying the government, communication devices have been included in the medical service basket. This means the government will now reimburse families for a portion of the cost of communication devices, which can often run into the thousands of dollars. Decision makers finally realized that everyone is entitled to the right to speak and that assistive and augmentative communication is critical for the health and well-being of people with disabilities. The hard work of professionals, families, and individuals has paid off. May we all learn from this example never to give up or give in where the rights of people with disabilities are concerned, and may we continue to see changes like this in all parts of the world.
To celebrate this achievement we have compiled a list of our top AAC apps that we cannot live without.
An AAC app that allows for the design of communication boards and visual scene displays. It uses a built in voice synthesizer but also allows for personal recording. It provides access to the Symbolstix library for customizing buttons but allows for uploading of personal photos as well. You can even add links to video and audio files located on the device. With a little imagination, the sky is the limit with this app, regarding the boards you can create. It also works with the switch accessibility features of the iPad, for users who require switch access, depending on the type of switch scanning they use.
Proloquo2go was the first AAC app to come to market after the iPad was introduced and it continues to be one of the most effective and most popular. It provides access to the Symbolstix library but allows for photo uploads as well. The app grows with the user, allowing for transition to literacy and word-prediction supported typing. It is highly customizable at the symbol and grid level and its intuitive design is easy to use for the user and for the professional designing the customized grids. It also provides customization for users with motor impairments including switch accessibility.
Predictable is a text-to-speech AAC app designed for literate individuals that allows typed or hand-written input. It provides intelligent word prediction, thematic word libraries, specialized word prediction for users with dyslexia, and access to social media from within the app. It includes a variety of keyboard configurations, is switch accessible, and comes with a variety of voices and accents. Another very interesting feature is ModelTalker. ModelTalker allows the user to use his or her own previously banked voice in the voice synthesizer. This feature is remarkable for those with progressive diseases, like ALS, that progressively lose their ability to speak, and allows them to continue to communicate in a voice similar to their own.
The Grid 2, by Sensory Software, was basically the pioneer for symbol based communication and continues to be a strong contender for users with Windows-based computers and tablets. Now they have an iOS app, called Grid Player, that allows you to use grids from The Grid 2 on your iDevices. This is great news for users of The Grid 2 who are transitioning to an iPad for communication. For users who do not have a Grid 2 account, the app includes 4 ready-made grid sets for symbol and text-based communication. Grid Player is dedicated to communication and does not have many of the advanced features that The Grid 2 software allows, but it is free, which is unusual in the AAC world.
Sounding Board is a simple free app that allows for easy design of simple personalized communication boards using the included collections of AbleNet symbols or by uploading personal photos and recording personalized messages. It is also switch accessible. It is a perfect app for users who are new to AAc.
Tiny Tap is not specifically an AAC app, but can absolutely be used to quickly and easily create simple communication boards using their Sound Board and Jump to Page features. The app can be used as a transitional communication device for those just being introduced to AAC or for those transitioning from low tech printed communication books to high tech voice-output devices. With a little effort and creativity you can easily create very useful communication boards. Boards can easily be created in the moment as needed from photos of objects or symbols.
There are many AAC apps in the AppStore, these are just a few that we like and recommend for a variety of uses and situations.
What AAC apps do you like? We’d love to hear about them. You can tell us in our Comments section.