Thursday, December 29, 2011

Speak For Yourself!

App Name: Speak For Yourself!

Speak for Yourself is designed by Heidi LoStracco, MS, CCC-SLP and Renee Collender, MA, CCC-SLP who worked together for several years teaching children  to use Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices.

This app offers a main screen of 119 of the most commonly used "Core" words from which you are able to access up to 5,000 words in what would be considered a user's "fringe" vocabulary with the ability to have a total of 14,000 words.

Home Screen of 119 Core words 

Speak for Yourself's  home screen looks a bit like a PRC device and overall has some similar features. If you practice LAMP (language acquisition through motor planning) you might like this app as it will not let you program the same key more than once. When first interacting with the app it can be a bit overwhelming and remains so until you learn where the vocabulary is located which for the most part is true for a majority of devices and AAC apps on the market. The features that Speak For Yourself! offers that make if different from other AAC apps on the market are:

Open and close- this feature allows the parent or therapist to "close" buttons (which is essentially hiding the vocabulary) access to vocabulary as the user learns how to navigate. You can then "open" the button as the user adds vocabulary. What this means is that buttons stay in one place only and motor planning stays consistent because the user knows the one spot the word they need to say is located. So 'want' will also be in the same place no matter what, and if you try to add it to a different spot it will not let you.

Home screen with buttons that were 'closed', enabling the user to practice the
motor planning of this specific vocabulary set.

Babble- This feature allows the user to experiment and "babble" while learning the button layouts, and discovering where the vocabulary is located.

Lock edit - This feature locks the ability for the app to be edited and is turned on and off through the iPad's settings menu.

Edit and add words- This feature allows you view the available buttons. Touch the gray button where you would like to add your new word and a popover appears. You can now add from the library of symbols or from the iPad's comera roll.

App Benefits/Likes:
  • Huge amount of vocabulary. Comes with 5,000 words with capacity for 14,000- including Pixon symbols  as well as Smarty Symbols.
  • Vocabulary has a designated button and  the app will not allow duplicate vocabulary, meaning you will not have 12 different "I wants" in 12 different locations.
  • If you attempt to add vocabulary that is already present in the library, the app will prompt you to where that vocabulary is located.
  • Offers the user the ability to learn through motor planning.

  • Could possibly be visually overwhelming for some users and buttons are a bit close 
  • Does not offer a vocabulary map -of what is beneath each buttons so a lot of trial and error at first 
  • Does not offer an ability to lower the amount of initial vocabulary- it would have been nice to have a 30- 60- 119 initial home screen depending on the level of the user- however with some 'closing' of vocabulary his can be accomplished.
  • Does not offer the ability to scan 
* The authors were contacted about the above concerns and said that they are looking into designing a key guard as well as experimenting with timing/release options for button access as well as offering a smaller initial vocabulary set

App Summary

Skill(s) Targeted
  • AAC
Age/Grade Levels Targeted
  • Toddler through Adult
How to Activate
  • Isolated finger point
Type of Device
  • iPad
  • $299.99
Would you recommend this App?
  • Yes - if you are familiar with the Pixon symbol set and understand learning language through motor planning.


  1. Great review and a great app! I just wish it had a lite version :( that's a lot of money for an app you can't try first! Bethany you so much for such a thorough review!

  2. The lack of a vocabulary map of any sort is a major drawback. It's like buying a 5000-word dictionary but the entries are in random order. Try generating "It's raining outside so I need an umbrella." If you find "umbrella" please share! You can add it but how do I know to add it if I have no reference of whether it's actually there? For $300 wouldn't you at least want to know where words are?

    1. The review told us that if you try and add umbrella and it is already there, the app will prompt you where it is located. I thought that sounded easy enough.

  3. Great app review! I just got this app for our AT/AAC lending library and got a chance to check it out. Another feature that I would love to see is the ability to toggle on/off the speech features. Right now it reads each word selected and then you can also touch the message window to read the full utterance. The read each word feature is great for users new to the system who are trying to figure out where vocabulary is located but as they become more proficient it would be nice to be able to turn off the read each word so that they can compose the full message before it speaks.

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