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.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Spice up those boring worksheets with your iPad!!

Originally appeared on The Speech Guy

If you are like me I am sure you have several workbooks with lots and lots of worksheets that you used to copy and have since replaced but not totally with some type of iPad app. Here are examples of some work sheets that I like to use. One is for language and the other is for artic/phonology. Since starting to use the iPad kids have preferred for the most part to want to play with the apps and have at times refused to color these 'boring' worksheets. Even when cool glitter and paint were being used!

Don't get me wrong I use the iPad in about 60% of my sessions so I still use traditional paper and pen, play, board game type activities but what to do with those darn worksheets just hanging out on your shelf? Can we somehow combine the two mediums? Of course! I came across this app called Glow Coloring the other day. Its a free ad supported app with a simple interface. Glow Coloring is the first doodle app that allows you to scan in images that you can color in or trace. You can adjust brush pattern, brush size, and color. Glow Coloring's scanning technology is built upon the same technology found in JotNot Scanner (a leading document scanning application for the iPhone) so scanned images turn out great every time which in effect allows you to combine those 'boring' worksheets with an iPad app to create lots of coloring and therapeutic fun!! Check out the fun we had creating these pages!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Language Builder and Assessment Options

This post also appears on SpeechTechie.

I recently had several evaluations in which the students had variable ability to engage in traditional standardized assessments. Specifically, the often quite useful CELF-4 Formulated Sentences subtest, in which the student is asked to produce a sentence to correspond with a presented picture using a target word, put these particular kids at a dead-end of silence and "I don't know"s. The subtest features a series of colorful pictures designed to serve as contexts for target words that increase in abstraction and complexity (e.g. always, because, until), and though I had never really analyzed it before, I realized that it involved even more advanced aspects: perspective taking and self-talk.  For example, the "practice" picture in which the examiner asks the child to use the word when depicts a cafeteria scene in which all sorts of things are going on: kids sitting at a table, a child ordering food, another throwing out the contents of a tray. On-target responses could include anything from:

When is lunch?

to the more complex

When I finish my lunch, I throw away my tray.

In either case, and in most of the items, the child is asked in some sense to put themselves in the scene to be a voice within the picture.  Some kids, of course, struggle to do that, and as my students exhibited a level of frustration and anxiety that prompted me to discontinue this subtest after a few items, I was left with the need to quantify their syntactic abilities (and, oh well, no Core Language Score).  Language sampling was on the agenda, of course, but both kids were very engaged by the iPad, so I found myself turning to Mobile Education Store's Language Builder ($7.99, iPad only).

Language Builder is an open-ended tool within this app studio's line of apps in which audio can be recorded to match picture and language prompts.  Or, in this case, I used the most open-ended option in the app, simply asking my students to "Make a sentence about the picture." In both cases, it was an enjoyable and engaging experience for the child, and gave me key information about their sentence formulation abilities, along with transcribable (or demonstrable for parents) audio samples in response to the pictures.  Language Builder has different levels of "hints" that prompt various language structures, and could of course be used for all those kids that complete Formulated Sentences and don't do so well with it. I actually have also been using it in conjunction with the excellent Conversations with Conjunctions program (Catherine Harkins May, Pro-Ed), which involves the use of ASL signs for conjunctions in order to provide a visual and kinesthetic cue. Overall, it's a great go-to app to address the difficult-to-assess (and treat) area of complex sentence development!

Sean J. Sweeney, CCC-SLP

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Zite Personalized Magazine

This post also appears on SpeechTechie as part of Blog Awareness Month!

All month I have been singing the praises of blogs as a route to professional development and therapy planning, and I am ending with a bit of a twist- Zite Personalized Magazine (Free, iPad only for now) an app that allows you to subscribe not to blogs but to topics. Select topics of interest and Zite will pull in posts from various news sources (including blogs) that correspond with your selections.  Here's my Zite home page:

Zite works somewhat like music app Pandora in that you can then further customize your feeds by giving a thumbs-up or -down to articles that appear or request more from the author, source, or subtopic.  It is easy to share articles by email or send to Twitter, Facebook or other services, making Zite a great tool for participating in your Personal Learning and Sharing Network.

Zite is somewhat more of a leisurely experience than using Google Reader as you don't have a number of unread posts to contend with; just read what you want! Because Zite allows you to set up multiple profiles within the app, it could also be a tool for helping older students do research or explore topics of interest and work on comprehension and language strategies.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


App Name: Speech4Good  by Balbus Speech

Description: This app can be summed up by three key words: Monitor. Share. Access. Those words are at the core of what makes Speech4Good tick. This app has a simple interface and is setup for inviduals to practice speech sounds or practice particular fluency techniques with the built in Delayed Auditory Feedback (DAF) feature - headphones required.

At the main menu (above) the user or therapist would start the app and select the speech center which would then bring them to the speech center screen (below).

Therapy Use:
The therapist/user would start a session and practice the speech sound or fluency technique while recording it.  You can then play back your practice session to work on monitoring skills or for data tracking. You have the option to turn on/off the speech graph and DAF throughout your sesion. The session is then saved and with the sharing feature you are able to e-mail it to the client, parents, or yourself. There is also social media built right in! You can share the session on twitter or facebook (Note: Please follow those HIPPA guidelines if you do share your sessions.)

App Benefits/Likes:
  • good for group sessions
  • able to save session recordings
  • colorful and appealing speech graph
  • built in delayed auditory feedback 
  •  social media integration
  • Does not offer data tracking capabilities

App Summary

Skill(s) Targeted

  • Articulation and Fluency monitoring
Age/Grade Levels Targeted
  • Preschool
  • Kindergarten
  • Early Elementary (Grades 1 – 3)

How to Activate
  • Isolated finger point
  • Swipe
Type of Device

  • iPad, iPhone, iPod touch
  • $29.99
Would you recommend this app?

  • Yes

Monday, December 5, 2011

TherapyApp411 Shortlisted For 2011 Edublog Award- Best Group Blog!

Thanks to Tanya Coyle and the folks at all4mychild for nominating TherapyApp411 for a 2011 Edublog Award.  We have been shortlisted in the category of Best Group Blog!  We are really honored to be on that list with many terrific blogs that are collaborative efforts among educators. You can check out the shortlist of all the blogs nominated here; it's great to see our colleagues and related disciplines represented in many categories!

Click here to vote in any category