Archive for June, 2016

{App Reviews} Two Splingo apps: the newly updated Splingo’s Language Universe & the Receptive Language Assessment

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{App Reviews} Two Splingo apps: the newly updated Splingo’s Language Universe & the Receptive Language Assessment

My patients LOVE the Splingo character so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to add these two apps to my SLP toolbox!

Splingo’s Language Universe by The Speech And Language Store LLP
https://appsto.re/us/c0urB.i, $2.99

This affordable app has lots of great content to target several different language goals. I love the space theme and getting to build a rocket for Splingo!

  • Level 1 – contains instructions of 1 main word (ex: “find the apple”)
  • Level 2 – contains instructions of 2 main words (ex: “find the red apple”)
  • Level 3 – contains instructions of 3 main words (ex: “find the big red apple”)
  • Level 4 – contains instructions of 4 main words (ex: “give the big red apple to the boy”)

Includes nouns, verbs, prepositions & adjectives. The app is customizable so you can create a combination of levels and word types to a child’s developmental level. Includes US and UK voice options.

My wishes for a future app update would be a listing of the specific targets included in each area at each level and being able to pick specific targets. This would make it easier for SLPs to select the specific targets being addressed for a particular patient. It would be nice to have a “pro” version of this app that offered the options to set up multiple users and data collection. Their assessment app offers that but since it is for assessment purposes the child does not have the opportunity to try again if they miss an item.

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Receptive Language Assessment with Splingo by The Speech And Language Store LLP, https://appsto.re/us/JN3NF.i, $24.99

  • Assess a variety of word/sentence types at 4 increasing levels of complexity
  • Generate clear, professional reports at the touch of a button and print via email for intervention planning and inclusion in client’s records.
  • I like the option of being able to see the content included by e-mailing yourself a blank copy of the report & the detailed in-app instructions.
  • Create multiple client profiles including thumbnail photos
  • Select US or UK vocabulary options
  • Select US or UK audio options
  • Real voice (not synthesized)
  • Save an assessment part-way through and return at a later date
  • Select start and end point based on your clients language levels
  • Trial items in demo mode to allow the student/client to become familiar with the assessment format
  • Include/exclude reward system featuring our entertaining alien, Splingo
  • Include/exclude the written sentence to assist comprehension, or for use as a reading comprehension assessment

Includes a variety of word and sentence types at four different levels of complexity:

  • 1 main word – object nouns, person nouns, location nouns, verbs, prepositions, size adjectives, color adjectives and attribute adjectives
  • 2 main words – seven different sentence types e.g. object-person, adjective-object etc
  • 3 main words – seven different sentence types, e.g. adjective-object-location, person-action-location etc
  • 4 main words – seven different sentence types, e.g. object-preposition-adjective-location, person-action-preposition-location

My wish for a future app update would be an option for a PDF version of the report. It would also be fun to get to build Splingo’s rocket or something similar at the end of the assessment or when it is paused to resume later.
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Disclaimer: I received these apps via promo codes from the developer. No compensation was received to review them and my opinions are strictly my own.
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Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist
Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC – inclusive wellness & educational activities for kids of all abilities
Home E-Mail: amoorad1@juno.com
Facebook Messaging for OMazing Kids: https://www.facebook.com/messages/17426452595789
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsYoga
AppPeeps Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OMazingKidsAppPeeps/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/amoorad
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/amoorad1
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/OMazingKids/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/110305433538768736741
Boardmaker Share: http://www.boardmakershare.com/Community/FriendsProfile/10916/Angela-Moorad
Blog: http://omazingkidsllc.com
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Angela Moorad is the founder of OMazing Kids, LLC and is an ASHA certified & licensed pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and Kids Yoga Teacher with over 26 years experience working in a variety of settings (early intervention, schools, teletherapy & a nonprofit pediatric rehab hospital for children with developmental disabilities). She is an app beta tester for educational & therapeutic app developers and loves sharing info about great apps, products, books & toys to use with kids of all abilities.
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{please ignore any ads that may appear below. This is a free blog and I don’t have any control over ads nor do I profit from them}

{Book Reviews} Superhero Instruction Manual & Diana’s White House Garden

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{Book Reviews} Superhero Instruction Manual & Diana’s White House Garden

I love using great picture books in my work as a SLP! I’m pretty sure I have well over a thousand of them now. I have them all stored by themes and have fun swapping out my book basket at work with a fresh theme every couple of weeks. Here are two new books:

Superhero Instruction Manual by Kristy Dempsey. I have several patients with a high interest in superheroes so this is sure to be a fave. I love the quirky illustrations and funny storyline.

http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/235819/superhero-instruction-manual-by-kristy-dempsey-illustrated-by-mark-fearing/
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Diana’s White House Garden by Elisa Carbone. I love the old fashioned feel of this book and that it’s based on a true story. Would be a great addition to any history lesson on FDR and the WWII era. Also would fit with a garden theme or even a patriotic theme.

http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/315223/dianas-white-house-garden-by-elisa-carbone-illustrated-by-jen-hill/
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Disclaimer: I received these books from the publisher to review. No compensation was received to review them and my opinions are strictly my own.
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Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist
Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC – inclusive wellness & educational activities for kids of all abilities
Home E-Mail: amoorad1@juno.com
Facebook Messaging for OMazing Kids: https://www.facebook.com/messages/17426452595789
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsYoga
AppPeeps Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OMazingKidsAppPeeps/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/amoorad
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/amoorad1
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/OMazingKids/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/110305433538768736741
Boardmaker Share: http://www.boardmakershare.com/Community/FriendsProfile/10916/Angela-Moorad
Blog: http://omazingkidsllc.com
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Angela Moorad is the founder of OMazing Kids, LLC and is an ASHA certified & licensed pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and Kids Yoga Teacher with over 26 years experience working in a variety of settings (early intervention, schools, teletherapy & a nonprofit pediatric rehab hospital for children with developmental disabilities). She is an app beta tester for educational & therapeutic app developers and loves sharing info about great apps, products, books & toys to use with kids of all abilities.
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{please ignore any ads that may appear below. This is a free blog and I don’t have any control over ads nor do I profit from them}

{App Review} Tools2Talk+: an affordable way to access PCS symbols

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{App Review} Looking for an affordable way to access Mayer-Johnson PCS symbols to make communication boards, PECS symbols or visual supports? Tools2Talk+ is a brand new app designed by SLPs from Scope. Create communication aids with PCS symbols, Compic symbols or your own photos. There are nearly 100 different page layouts options available, including 81 grids and 14 templates. Print or share via email. Use “chat mode” to have a button spoken with one of the text to speech iOS voices.

Key Features:

  • Over 20,000 PCS symbols (PCS Classic & PCS ThinLine)
  • Over 1,500 Compic symbols
  • Add your own images to cells via the iPad camera or images saved on your Camera Roll
  • Use the boards on your iPad with text to speech via iOS Voices with adjustable rate in Chat Mode
  • Print boards
  • Email boards in PDF
  • Customize cell color, cell font, page background color and more. Love the option to set a default font, font size & font color!
  • Undo/Redo options to fix mistakes quickly
  • Edit multiple cells at the same time (love this feature!)
  • Change the board configuration in edit mode
  • Drag and drop cells to different positions on the board
  • Easily navigate using the dropdown menu in chat mode
  • In-app user guide

App Store link: https://appsto.re/us/tYUeab.i

Special intro pricing: $47.99 (USA App Store) – pricing varies in other countries based on the exchange rate. An affordable option to get access to PCS symbols compared to the subscription rate for Boardmaker Online (starts at $99 per year) or Boardmaker software (starts at $399).

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Tip: Want to use a PCS symbol in one of your other AAC apps? Use this app. Make a 1×1 template, add the PCS symbol you want and delete the label text. Then take a screenshot on your iPad. It will save it to your Camera Roll. Crop that pic and then import it from your camera roll into most AAC apps. Some AAC apps do best with a square pic so I usually crop my pics accordingly.

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I’m LOVING this app as a way to finally be able to make printable communication boards, PECS & visual supports with the PCS symbols many of my patients are accustomed to without having to sit at a computer or pay for an online subscription! While this app is not as full featured as the Boardmaker software I use on a computer, it’s the perfect solution when I want to make a few simple things while sitting in the comfy spot on my sofa in the evening or in the middle of a session where I have my iPad but don’t have access to a computer. Seriously cool to be able to create a simple visual support with parent input in the middle of a session and e-mail it to the parent right there. I even used the app to quickly make some minimal contrast pairs in the middle of a session and then used them in chat mode on my iPad with that patient. A busy SLP’s dream come true!

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Video with a few tips:

 

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I have just a few wishes for a future app update to make the app even better:

  • add a freestyle option where buttons of various sizes can be placed anywhere on the page rather than being limited to a grid. I have a patient with limited hand mobility that I want to try symbols in an arch with an empty spot for her hand to rest underneath. It would be awesome to create this type of configuration in this app!
  • make the symbol search more efficient. For example, when I searched for the pronoun “I” it was not at the top of the list…. had to scroll down pretty far to find it. I also noticed a few instances where a particular symbol did not come up as available in a search by the whole word but then did when just the first couple of letters were entered.
  • make the spoken text automatically adjust when editing the symbol on a button. I found that it still spoke whatever the original symbol text was. I was able to fix it by then editing the spoken text but it would be nice to not have to do that extra step.
  • add option to create specific size symbols. I often make 1.5″ x 1.5″ or 2″ x 2″ symbols for PECS books. It would be great to know what size symbols are being made in this app when I will be printing them.
  • include the PCS High Contrast symbol library.
  • add templates for overlays for common mid-tech AAC devices. For example, we still use various sizes of the GoTalk AAC devices at the hospital where I work so it would be cool to be make paper overlays for those.

FYI… the previous version of this app that contained SymbolStix symbols is no longer available in the App Store. If you have that app be sure to back up your iPad with iTunes on your computer so you will still have it in the event of the app being deleted or your iPad having to be restored to factory settings.

UPDATE: If you previously purchased the original app and then lost it because it was not installed on your iPad at the time the app was removed from the App Store, please contact the company at the e-mail address (circ@scopevic.org.au) listed in this comment on their Facebook page on 10/10/16:


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Disclaimer: I received this app via a promo code from the developer. No compensation was received to review it and my opinions are strictly my own.
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Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist
Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC – inclusive wellness & educational activities for kids of all abilities
Home E-Mail: amoorad1@juno.com
Facebook Messaging for OMazing Kids: https://www.facebook.com/messages/17426452595789
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsYoga
AppPeeps Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OMazingKidsAppPeeps/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/amoorad
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/amoorad1
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/OMazingKids/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/110305433538768736741
Boardmaker Share: http://www.boardmakershare.com/Community/FriendsProfile/10916/Angela-Moorad
Blog: http://omazingkidsllc.com
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Angela Moorad is the founder of OMazing Kids, LLC and is an ASHA certified & licensed pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and Kids Yoga Teacher with over 26 years experience working in a variety of settings (early intervention, schools, teletherapy & a nonprofit pediatric rehab hospital for children with developmental disabilities). She is an app beta tester for educational & therapeutic app developers and loves sharing info about great apps, products, books & toys to use with kids of all abilities.
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{please ignore any ads that may appear below. This is a free blog and I don’t have any control over ads nor do I profit from them}

{Book Review} With Any Luck, I’ll Drive a Truck by David Friend

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{Book Review} With Any Luck, I’ll Drive a Truck by David Friend

Bulldozers and back-hoes, pavers and plows, trailers and tractors–the world is filled with so many types of trucks! Imagine the fun you could have if you could drive them all! And what if you could bring your best friends along with you? Hop along for a thrilling ride! This playful romp is sure to delight truck lovers everywhere!

  • Age Range: 3 – 5 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool – Kindergarten
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books – Penguin Young Readers Group (June 14, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399169563
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399169564
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.4 x 10.8 inches

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Here’s what I love about this book

  • fun rhyming text in a large easy to read font
  • colorful detailed illustrations fill each 2-page spread. Every time I read this book, I find more fun things hidden in the details
  • full of lots of great vocabulary, descriptive words & actions
  • several opportunities for teaching prepositions (in, out, up, down, under, etc.)
  • includes lots of vehicles….. perfect for my patients who have a high interest in anything with a construction or transportation theme

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I’m excited to have my latest “read-play-talk” activity ready for several patients in OMazing Kids speech therapy tomorrow built around this book! The text is very inviting so kids will be motivated to request “read” as I pause and wait expectantly after each two page spread. I will also be targeting key vocabulary via aided language stimulation in the Speak For Yourself AAC app (go, drive, dig, spread, help, cat, cow, and most of the vehicles: crane, fire truck, fork lift, garbage truck, bulldozer, moving van, tanker, snowplow, tractor, cement mixer, dump truck, excavator/backhoe, combine, wrecking ball, flatbed trailer & semi truck). Then we will play with a toy dump truck and a set of colored balls to fill the back and dump out (more great opportunities for requesting colors & the vocabulary “in”, “out” & “go”). And a couple of the patients will get to play a construction themed app on my other iPad or do a coloring page for a couple of minutes as a reinforcer at the end.

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Available for purchase:

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Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review. No compensation was received to review it and my opinions are strictly my own.
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Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist
Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC – inclusive wellness & educational activities for kids of all abilities
Home E-Mail: amoorad1@juno.com
Facebook Messaging for OMazing Kids: https://www.facebook.com/messages/17426452595789
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsYoga
AppPeeps Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OMazingKidsAppPeeps/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/amoorad
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/amoorad1
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/OMazingKids/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/110305433538768736741
Boardmaker Share: http://www.boardmakershare.com/Community/FriendsProfile/10916/Angela-Moorad
Blog: http://omazingkidsllc.com
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Angela Moorad is the founder of OMazing Kids, LLC and is an ASHA certified & licensed pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and Kids Yoga Teacher with over 26 years experience working in a variety of settings (early intervention, schools, teletherapy & a nonprofit pediatric rehab hospital for children with developmental disabilities). She is an app beta tester for educational & therapeutic app developers and loves sharing info about great apps, products, books & toys to use with kids of all abilities.
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{please ignore any ads that may appear below. This is a free blog and I don’t have any control over ads nor do I profit from them}

{App Review} Speech and Language Warm-Ups by Super Duper Publications

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{App Review} Speech and Language Warm-Ups by Super Duper Publications

I have several tough-to-motivate patients with severe speech sound disorders who have been easily engaged with use of this new app. It is affordable and full of several great features. Speech & Language Warm-Ups targets following directions, breath support, production of individual sounds, and lip, tongue, and jaw movements. The Speech & Language Warm-Ups app includes:

  • 24 engaging activities
  • Video models of each exercise that can be enlarged or hidden
  • Audio of each poem (tap on the text to speak or pause)
  • Animated illustrations (tap on the pic to pause)
  • Ability to use built-in camera so student can view his/her own productions (can be enlarged or hidden). This allows you to customize the experience for individual patient needs. I had one patient who was very self conscious about being on screen but once I toggled the camera off he loved the app. All my other patients were in love with seeing themselves on the iPad… lol!
  • A full screen split screen can show either the camera and the animation at the same time or the camera and the video at the same time.
  • Ability to select specific exercises
  • Option to create sequences of activities
  • Quick Play option
  • Can be used in landscape or portrait orientation

Targeted Skills:

  • Hungry Cow — jaw and tongue mobility
  • Dog’s Tail — tongue mobility
  • Giraffe’s Neck — tongue mobility
  • Circle (Pinwheel) — tongue mobility
  • Scared Turtle — tongue mobility for “G” and “K” sounds
  • Toothbrush — tongue mobility
  • Clock — production of “T” sound
  • Snake — production of “S” sound
  • Zipper (Kangaroo) — production of “Z” sound
  • Tire — production of “F” sound
  • Fan — production of “TH” sound
  • Teacher (Rabbit) — production of “SH” sound
  • Scratch an Itch (Cat) — tongue mobility for “R” sound
  • Horse — tongue strength and coordination for “L” sound
  • Paintbrush (Mouse) — tongue mobility for “L” and “R” sounds
  • Lion — production of “G” and “R” sounds
  • Old Car — production of “K” sound
  • Thirsty Kid — production of “G” sound
  • Wind — breath support and control for “W” sound
  • Play a Song — velum closure and awareness of nasality in air flow
  • Make Friends — lip control for “R” and “S” sounds
  • Say Good-bye — lip strength and coordination for “P,” “B,” and “M” sounds
  • Balloon — lip closure, lip control, and air pressure
  • Mountain — breath control

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Wishes for a future app update (submitted via e-mail to the app developer on 6/8/16): For the activities that target specific speech sounds, it would be helpful to have the sound labeled on the top right colored corner of those cards to make it quicker to find a specific sound when working with a patient. This would be helpful both in the quick play and sequences areas. Currently that info is only found under the “?” button.

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I highly recommend this app! You could easily spend more than this on a printable of just the rhymes if such a thing even existed on TPT and this app has the rhymes, animated illustrations, video modeling and visual feedback like you would get in a mirror. It’s a perfect example of how an app can be better than the “old school” way of doing speech therapy. See this post for more about use of the iPad as a tool in your SLP toolbox: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2016/06/09/the-ipad-the-slp-toolbox/.

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App Store link: Speech & Language Warm-Ups by Super Duper Publications
https://appsto.re/us/OV2Aab.i, $3.99, iPad only, requires iOS 8.2 or higher
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Disclaimer: I purchased this app at full price and my opinions are strictly my own.
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Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist
Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC – inclusive wellness & educational activities for kids of all abilities
Home E-Mail: amoorad1@juno.com
Facebook Messaging for OMazing Kids: https://www.facebook.com/messages/17426452595789
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsYoga
AppPeeps Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OMazingKidsAppPeeps/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/amoorad
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/amoorad1
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/OMazingKids/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/110305433538768736741
Boardmaker Share: http://www.boardmakershare.com/Community/FriendsProfile/10916/Angela-Moorad
Blog: http://omazingkidsllc.com
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Angela Moorad is the founder of OMazing Kids, LLC and is an ASHA certified & licensed pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and Kids Yoga Teacher with over 26 years experience working in a variety of settings (early intervention, schools, teletherapy & a nonprofit pediatric rehab hospital for children with developmental disabilities). She is an app beta tester for educational & therapeutic app developers and loves sharing info about great apps, products, books & toys to use with kids of all abilities.
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{please ignore any ads that may appear below. This is a free blog and I don’t have any control over ads nor do I profit from them}

{AAC Tips} How SLPs can get FREE access to AAC apps, AAC app user groups, funding options & more!

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{AAC Tips} How SLPs can get FREE access to AAC apps, AAC app user groups, funding options & more!

I have seen no less than 10 posts in a variety of Facebook groups this week from SLPs asking about free lite versions of AAC apps worded in a way that it was clear that the person who posted it thought that was their only option for getting access to AAC apps to trial with patients / students. Of course any good AAC eval would also include consideration and trials of traditional SGDs. Most folks know to contact their local vendor rep to borrow a SGD (the info to find out who to contact is readily available on those companies websites) so that’s not really where the problem is. A good AAC eval should also include consideration of features uniquely available in AAC apps but folks don’t often know how to get access to those. So I felt a need to share info here to help my fellow speechies build a better equipped AAC toolbox. I guess the closer I get to retirement the more I feel compelled to share knowledge accumulated over my 26+ year career.

The problem is even if there is a free or low cost lite version of a particular AAC app, it is not the same as trialing the full featured app. How can you do a true feature-match when you don’t have all the features? Many SLPs see the prices in the App Store and assume they would have to personally purchase apps or try to get their facility or school to do so. Well unless you work in some mythical setting with unlimited funds or have a well established booming private practice, it’s unlikely that you would be able to afford very many AAC apps. Not saying they are overpriced. App developers have significant costs related to keeping robust AAC apps updated and paying licensing fees for high quality symbol sets and voices. So we shouldn’t expect these apps to be priced at the same level as other speech therapy apps or kids educational apps.

But I have good news! There is a way to get FREE access to the full version of many AAC apps but it will “cost” you some time and effort. If you’re willing to work a little, continue reading (I hope you are for the sake of the patient / students you serve).

Free access to the Tobii Dynavox Compass AAC app for SLPs: http://www.tobiidynavox.com/slp-app/. The upside is you have access to premium page sets too. The downside is it’s annoying that it only allows you to have one iPad logged on at a time. This does not lend itself well to AAC evals that may be done in a single appointment and you need to be able to trial on a full sized iPad and an iPad Mini. This would be such an easy fix Tobii Dynavox (in case you happen to read this post)… just allow 2 iPads to be logged in at a time. I’m guessing you set a limit to prevent SLPs from logging on from personal iPads for their full caseload and thus undermining the market for the paid versions of the app but a limit of 2 would be a good compromise.

keep going

But don’t stop there. You need more than 1 tool in your AAC toolbox. If you are a SLP that frequently does AAC evals and makes purchasing recommendations, then many other AAC app developers will provide you with a free promo code for their app so you would be able to trial it with patients.

How to get codes for AAC apps: The process for doing this is a little different for each app. I always start by contacting that developer via Facebook messaging on their FB page for that app. If I don’t get a response there, then I look on their website for an e-mail address or to see if they have a formal process for requesting a copy of the app. This info can be difficult to find so dig a little. It takes some time but is well worth it. I am a SLP at a non-profit facility that does tons of AAC evals and purchasing recommendations. I have been able to get most of the main AAC apps and therefore have lots of options to trial during AAC evals. Feel pretty tech-geeky spending evenings and weekends doing this but it’s worth it to have access to lots of AAC options that then result in good AAC matches for the kids I serve.
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Here is an alphabetical list of AAC apps that I have gotten by going through this process and the way(s) I contacted those app developers. I hope I haven’t left anyone off the list. If I have, feel free to send me a message. There is not room to keep all the AAC apps loaded on my iPad at the same time so I rotate them on/off based on my patient’s needs. Most AAC apps are very large so I always suggest that SLPs get an iPad with the largest memory you can afford. Even with two 128GB iPad Airs, I am still constantly playing the “app shuffle” where I delete apps to make room to install others. I will be updating this list as I get new AAC apps:

  • aacorn (Facebook messaging)
  • AAC Genie (Facebook messaging)
  • AlphaTopics (Facebook messaging)
  • Avatalker (Facebook messaging)
  • Avaz Pro (combo of Facebook messaging & e-mail)
  • BridgeBuilderAAC (Facebook messaging)
  • Click ‘n Talk & Talk’n Photos (Facebook messaging)
  • Clicker Communicator with SymbolStix & Clicker Communicator with PCS (Facebook messaging)
  • CoughDrop (the app developer contacted me)
  • Custom Boards (Facebook messaging)
  • GoTalk Now Plus (combo of Facebook messaging & e-mail)
  • iESLp (combo of Facebook messaging & e-mail)
  • image2talk (Facebook messaging)
  • InnerVoice (Facebook messaging)
  • LAMP Words for Life (combo of Facebook messaging & e-mail. The key was to reach out to the app developers John & Cindy Holloran directly. I spent over a year with no success contacting PRC. You have to go through LAMP trainings prior to getting a code)
  • My First AAC (e-mail)
  • Niki Talk, Niki Talk + Tweet, Niki Music (adapted way to play music) & Niki Video (adapted way to play videos) (Facebook messaging)
  • PECS Phase III & PECS IV+ (e-mail – I had helped coordinate bringing a PECS workshop to our facility so that definitely helped)
  • Picture AAC (Facebook messaging)
  • Predictable, Scene & Heard & ChatAble (combo of Facebook messaging & e-mail)
  • Proloquo2Go & Proloquo4Text (have to dig quite a bit to find this info on their website. E-Mail regarding their Resource Center program: support@assistiveware.com, http://www.assistiveware.com/support/faq/page/266)
  • Say Some More AAC Plus (combo of Facebook messaging & e-mail)
  • SayIt! (text to speech) (Facebook messaging)
  • See Me Talk (combo of Facebook messaging & e-mail)
  • So Much 2 Say (Facebook messaging)
  • Speak For Yourself (Facebook messaging)
  • Talk Tablet US (contacted this e-mail address: gusinc@me.com)
  • Tools2Talk+ (combo of Facebook messaging & e-mail)
  • Total Talk (e-mail)
  • TouchChat HD with WordPower (contacted my local Saltillo rep via e-mail. Find your rep: https://saltillo.com/reps. A word of advice… You really need the version that includes WordPower)
  • Verbal Me & Verbal Me Español (website contact form)

keys to success

The key is being persistent. If one contact method doesn’t work, then try another. Another key is building relationships on social media. I put quite a bit of time and effort into liking and sharing posts from app developers pages, announcing when they have app sales and even doing reviews and hosting giveaways for them on my blog and social media sites. Some app developers may require proof of you being a SLP (keep in mind that they may have received numerous requests for a free app from parents or AAC users). The other thing to keep in mind is that app developers only get a certain number of promo codes when they release an app or an update to that app. So if they currently don’t have codes, check back again later. Often good to ask right after an app has been released or it has been updated when they would have a fresh batch of codes.
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Despite numerous attempts, I have not yet been successful in getting access to the full versions of following AAC apps. Which means I can’t recommend them since I have no way to trial the full featured version during an AAC eval nor do I recommend them when therapists or parents ask about AAC options in the numerous Facebook groups that I participate in since I haven’t used them:

  • Snap Scene (the free lite version is cool so I have shared info about it but still can’t make purchasing recommendations for the full app)
  • Sono Flex (the free lite version has some interesting features but can’t make purchasing recommendations off that for the full app)
  • TapSpeak Choice AAC

If anyone has been successful in getting a promo code for access to the full versions any of these AAC apps, I would LOVE to hear details on how you accomplished that!
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Other AAC apps that I have and use:

  • Alexicom AAC (free. They have several other paid apps but I don’t have those)
  • BRIDGE Communication (bought it when it was on sale for $.99, it has some cool articulation pages built into it and has a Spanish option in the settings, currently priced free for a 30 day trial and then has the option to purchase through an in app purchase. They have exciting new updates in the works and should be releasing a full paid version of that app soon)
  • CanTunes (free, music choice boards, adapted means of accessing music on your iPad)
  • Choice Board Maker
  • Choice Boards
  • Communicate Easy
  • EESpeech Basic
  • Emergency Chat
  • Flip Writer AAC
  • FreeVOCA
  • GoTalk Now Lite (free, has good features for a lite app. Often recommend it as an option while we are working on getting other options in place)
  • iHear PECS: Animals (bought it, a bargain for $1.99)
  • iSpeak Button Collection (bought it, $5.99, large full screen round button (looks similar to a BigMack), swipe screen to see the next button, up to 15 buttons)
  • MenuAssist
  • PlayButton (free, https://appsto.re/us/WZ2lC.i. This FREE app is one of my faves for use as a single message VOCA. The activation area is very large (almost the entire screen). I use Guided Access to lock the “record” button to prevent accidental activations during use)
  • Quick Type AAC (bought it, a bargain for $1.99)
  • SoundingBoard (free)
  • Speak – Text to Speech
  • Spell Better – Literacy Support (includes text to speech)
  • Spuble – creating live speech bubbles (very unique voice to text app that transcribes what a person says so another person can read it on the screen)
  • TalkBoard Free
  • Talk For Me – Text to Speech
  • TapSpeak Button Plus (won it in a giveaway on PrAACtical AAC)
  • Touch Switch (bought it, $4.99, play any music downloaded onto your iPad with full screen round button. Also plays eye catching animations. Really more for “cause & effect” but thought it was worth mentioning)
  • Verbally (free)
  • Voice4u TTS
  • Whiteboard – nothing more, nothing less

There are several other AAC apps that I have gotten when they were free for a day or two. When I see one, I download it to try out before deciding if it is worth sharing on social media. There are some apps in the App Store that claim to be AAC but are so poorly designed that I chose not to post about them.
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What are my “favorite” AAC apps? I have several based on the features available in them. I know the list above looks overwhelming and I did not get these apps all at the same time. So here is some advice as to where to start in your quest to acquire AAC apps. If I had to narrow down the list to the top 8 robust AAC apps that stay loaded on my iPad all the time and have been a good match for several patients that I serve… they are (list subject to change as apps are updated with new features and other apps are released):

  • Avaz Pro
  • Clicker Communicator with PCS
  • Clicker Communicator with SymbolStix
  • GoTalk Now Plus
  • LAMP Words for Life
  • Proloquo2Go
  • Speak for Yourself
  • TouchChat HD with WordPower

I think of these as the most common tools in my AAC toolbox (like a hammer, pliers, saw, tape measure, drill, level, screwdriver & wrench are common tools at home). The rest are still very important “specialty” tools in my toolbox. They are fabulous for meeting less common and very specific needs. Think of an Alan Wrench. Not something you use very often but when you need one it is the only tool that will meet that need. And sometimes the best solution is a combination of several tools. Remember…. Good builders pick tools based on the task.
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Feature Matching: So I bet you are thinking “oh my goodness… how on earth can I learn about all the features to do a feature-match with so many options?”. The apps I have listed above are just the tip of the iceberg. There are hundreds. I have more great news! Jane Farrall has a fabulous website that she keeps updated with tons of info about the features in AAC apps. Check it out: http://www.janefarrall.com/aac-apps-lists/. You’ll see four links to different pages:

  • Symbol/Picture apps – These are apps that have symbol based pages but don’t make text-to-speech available to the person who uses AAC.
  • Symbol & Text Based apps – These are apps that have symbol pages and make text-to-speech available to the person who uses AAC.
  • Text Based apps – These are apps that make text-to-speech available to the person who uses AAC or that have text only communication pages.
  • Additions and Updates (http://www.janefarrall.com/aac-apps-lists/additions-and-updates/). This is an ongoing list added to each time she updates the list.

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Unfortunately the AAC Ferret app that had been so helpful in searching for apps by specific features no longer exists. Word is the app developer ran into funding issues. Even if you still have that app loaded on your iPad, it no longer works. That app truly was a fabulous tool. My hope is that maybe it will reappear one day or that someone else will develop a tool like that. In the meantime, Jane’s website and asking questions in AAC related Facebook groups are your best bet.
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Funding

Funding: We are fortunate in Oklahoma that Medicaid will consider funding an iPad with a robust AAC app in a durable case as a SGD / DME but they require us to try the full version of the app in order to do a complete feature-match, submit a video of the patient using it and extensive justification as to why that particular option us being recommended. Here in Oklahoma, we can only get funding once every 5 years for AAC (with very rare exceptions) so it’s very important to be able to get a good match for that individual’s needs. See details here: https://www.ok.gov/abletech/SoonerCare_Provider_of_Speech_Generating_Devices.html.

Another source that I’ve had good success with for funding an iPad with a robust AAC app in a durable case here in Oklahoma is the New Voices grant through Ability Connections Oklahoma: https://abilityconnectionoklahoma.org/services-2/.

If you are in Oklahoma, also check out the AAC Funding Guide (last updated in 2013): https://www.ok.gov/abletech/Publications/OK_Funding_for_AT/

This website has good info regarding potential funding sources: http://ectacenter.org/topics/atech/funding.asp

There are key times of the year that AAC apps tend to go on sale and I always share that info on my OMazing Kids Facebook page and in the AppPeeps group. Some app developers choose to do sales and others do not. When I have inquired about that, they reply that they feel their app is fairly priced given the ongoing costs related to keeping it updated and licensing fees for symbol sets and voices.

Why do many AAC apps cost so much? Drives me a little nuts when I see unkind comments regarding pricing of well designed AAC apps. Where else would we demand that something be put on sale or even worse demand that it should be free? Really?! The well designed robust AAC apps are a bargain even at full price if you stop to really think about being able to get a “voice” for a patient for a tiny fraction of the cost of traditional SGDs. It has been a game-changer and allowed many parents to be able to no longer have to wait on a SLP to be the decision maker / gatekeeper. Many parents post about “going rogue” in buying an iPad, AAC app & durable case for their child after being told they weren’t “ready” for that. News alert…. the old school mentality of there being a “hierarchy” that a child has to go through to “prove” they are “ready” for robust AAC is antiquated. Not saying that every AAC app or SGD is a good match for every child but I am saying that the days of kids with very complex needs being stuck with just a single message VOCA or a few PECS symbols have to end. See this presentation from Jane Farrall: http://www.janefarrall.com/lets-communicate-plenary-presentation-at-qaselcon16/ , this post about “What is “Beginning” AAC?“: http://www.janefarrall.com/what-is-beginning-aac/, and this powerful post on the Uncommon Sense Blog’s Facebook page: http://bit.ly/230RT5r.
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What about parents who want to try out AAC options? I highly recommend that you pursue an AAC eval with a SLP who has expertise in this area. Many larger school districts have an AAC team. But don’t feel that you have to wait if you are a parent who has been told “no” and want to proceed on your own. It may just be a little trickier to determine what the best AAC option will be for your child since most parents don’t have unlimited resources to buy several AAC apps to try. All states in the USA are supposed to have an Assistive Technology Lending Library program where parents & professionals can borrow AAC devices, iPads with AAC apps & other AT for short-term trial. It’s a great way to try various options out before making purchasing decisions. There are lots of great AAC devices and apps. It’s important to do a good feature-match and trial of options. Find the AT Lending Library in your state:

http://www.atconnects.com/at-act-programs/state-at-act-programs

http://www.ataporg.org/states.html. Also can look on: http://www.resnaprojects.org/allcontacts/statewidecontacts.html. The AT Program in your state may also know of SLPs who do AAC evals and funding resources specific to your area.

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AAC user groups on facebook
Need support with using an AAC app? Most app developers have a Facebook group for that app. I highly suggest joining these groups for an incredible amount of support from the app developers as well as other parents, therapists & teachers. Every group has it’s own “culture”. Some are very open to discussing any topic. Others are pretty strict about only posting info or questions directly related to that particular app. Here is a list of the Facebook app user groups:

I have suggested to the developers of the GoTalk Now app that a group be started but so far I’ve only seen a parent led one in Swedish. I have also suggested to the developer of the new Total Talk AAC app that they start a group. He was very open to the idea so I hope to see that soon.

There are also numerous other AAC-related Facebook groups. Again each having it’s own culture and dynamic. I’m not going to list all of those here…. but if you are a SLP, I definitely suggest joining the AAC for the SLP group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1539830846285663/. Also take a look at the 21st Century AAC Practitioners group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/475548015977014/. If you see me “tag” Lauren Enders in a post or comment, it’s because I know that she has a wealth on knowledge about AAC apps, cases, mounting options, etc. You should seriously follow her on Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/lasenders/. I also know that she will provide an unbiased opinion and always comments in a very supportive way. You may also see me “tag” Carole Zangari from PrAACtical AAC for the same reasons. http://praacticalaac.org/

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conflicting one way signs

What’s the best AAC approach? What’s the best dedicated speech generating device? What’s the best case? What’s the best ______….. Several times a week I am either asked this question or I see it posted in one of the many AAC Facebook groups I follow. Occasionally it seems to end up in a rather heated debate of ______ vs. ________. Even arguments over core vs. fringe vocabulary. For a balanced approach in use of core & fringe vocabulary, check out this fabulous post on PrAACtically AAC: http://praacticalaac.org/praactical/the-baby-the-bathwater-and-core-vocabulary/. This is counterproductive. Although there are key best practices when considering AAC options, there is not any one best AAC option (or one best therapy approach, or one best anything) when it comes to best meeting individual needs. I have added a lot of tools to my toolbox over my 26+ year career as a speech-language pathologist. There have been pivotal moments where new tools were added that forever changed my perspective. Although shiny new tools may be exciting they did not replace the old tried & true tools. The exciting thing about tools is that you can use them together to build & repair. Would it make sense to ask “What’s better…. a hammer or a drill? a saw or a tape measure? a wrench or a flashlight? Of course not. Each tool has it’s specific purpose. You select the tool based on what job you need to accomplish.
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Have questions? The quickest and most reliable way to reach me is via Facebook messaging on my OMazing Kids page. Thank goodness it seems to be immune from spammers unlike my e-mail.
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Are you an AAC app developer? I’d be more than glad to help beta test your app and then post about it when it is released for sale. I don’t charge a fee. Just would need a free promo code for the full version of that AAC app so I can add it to my toolbox. I never post about apps that I haven’t tried out first. Oh and a word of advice to app developers… state run facilities and schools have difficulty with in-app purchases or subscription-based apps as do potential funding sources such as Medicaid or insurance companies. So you will have a wider audience if you also offer a full paid version of your AAC app.
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Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist
Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC – inclusive wellness & educational activities for kids of all abilities
Home E-Mail: amoorad1@juno.com
Facebook Messaging for OMazing Kids: https://www.facebook.com/messages/17426452595789
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsYoga
AppPeeps Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OMazingKidsAppPeeps/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/amoorad
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/amoorad1
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/OMazingKids/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/110305433538768736741
Boardmaker Share: http://www.boardmakershare.com/Community/FriendsProfile/10916/Angela-Moorad
Blog: http://omazingkidsllc.com
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Angela Moorad is the founder of OMazing Kids, LLC and is an ASHA certified & licensed pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and Kids Yoga Teacher with over 26 years experience working in a variety of settings (early intervention, schools, teletherapy & a nonprofit pediatric rehab hospital for children with developmental disabilities). She is an app beta tester for educational & therapeutic app developers and loves sharing info about great apps, products, books & toys to use with kids of all abilities.
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{please ignore any ads that may appear below. This is a free blog and I don’t have any control over ads nor do I profit from them}

The iPad & the SLP Toolbox

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Super Duper artic flashcards, Fisher Price Puppy’s Home, Fisher Price Piggy Bank, Cranium Cariboo, PlayDoh, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, communication devices, TPT printable products. All very common items in the typical SLP toolbox. Nobody freaks out if you mention them. Nobody asks “Where’s the evidence based data?” for use of the “Cranium Cariboo” game or “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”. But mention use of an iPad in therapy and you will likely encounter a very different response.

I feel a need to write this post since I frequently see posts or comments in SLP Facebook groups about how they would “never” use an iPad in therapy (thanks in part to ASHA’s misguided assault on tech use in the past two BHSM campaigns). That’s unfortunate since those SLPs are truly missing an important tool in their toolbox. It would be like a home builder refusing to use an electric nail gun and only building homes by hand with a hammer and nails.

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Many high quality apps specifically designed by SLPs for SLPs allow you to do in-app data collection, look at data over time, e-mail reports, and swipe through stimulus cards rapidly which allows you to get in more reps. Plus many kids are highly motivated by anything presented on an iPad. Having most of the major robust AAC apps at my fingertips to try at any moment has been life changing for many of my patients (be watching for a post soon with tips on how to get free access to many AAC apps if you are a SLP that does frequent AAC evals and funding recommendations).

I use apps extensively in my work as a SLP. My iPads with high quality apps are by far one of the best tools in my speechie toolbox! I have seen countless patients who had meltdowns at the sight of traditional flashcards but when shown similar activities on an iPad are immediately engaged. I’ve also had kids who were so impulsive that flashcards were constantly either getting ripped or flying off the table. Of course I’ve also had patients who view the iPad as a “toy” but most learn that my main therapy iPad is for “work” or to be used as a “talker” (AAC device). When needed, I lock it into Guided Access and NEVER let anyone see the secret code to unlock it and almost always have a firm grip on one of the handles of the GripCase (any “builder” would be protective of their costly and important tools… right?). I also never leave my personal iPad laying around in a treatment room. It is always in my possession. By strictly following these “rules”, I have never had a cracked screen or had an iPad stolen. I have a second iPad in a different colored GripCase with high quality kids apps that kids can earn time playing for a couple of minutes at the end.

Of course I still use traditional flashcards, worksheets, toys, crafts, music, books, games, etc. as other “tools” in my well equipped speechie toolbox (my toolbox is overflowing with stuff… see my post on SLP Hoarders). Being a good “builder” of speech & language skills requires making good clinical judgements in selecting the right tools for the job in that moment.

I bought my first iPad in December 2012 with Christmas $$$ and quickly bought a second one the following February with birthday $$$ realizing that I needed one iPad to be an AAC and therapy device and another one with “fun” well designed kids apps that kids could request or work for as reinforcers (not fair to take away the “voice” of a patient while playing in language rich apps). A few months later I won an iPad Mini in a giveaway and it has been a valuable tool to trial AAC apps on a more portable sized “talker”.

Since 2012, I’ve only encountered two patients so far that I could not use the iPad in some way. Both had huge meltdowns over the iPad being locked into Guided Access that. So the iPad was not part of the tools I used with them. But for the hundreds of other patients in that I’ve seen in that timeframe, it has been a very important and highly valuable tool.

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Not sure how to find high quality apps? I invite you to join me over on my OMazing Kids Facebook page and in my AppPeeps Facebook group where I post frequently about apps (see links below).

I post most info about apps on Facebook as a picture post in an album specifically for apps. There are currently two of these albums. Feel free to browse through them to see what you may have missed but be aware that prices and availability may have changed.

This older one is “full” (since 1,000 is the max). https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.562317480485928.1073741841.174264525957894&type=3

All new posts are being put in album #2: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1039368119447526.1073741892.174264525957894&type=3

I also typically cross post in the AppPeeps to help insure folks see the posts.

A few tips:

  •  I only post about apps that I have actually downloaded and tried and only post about those that I see as being either helpful in therapy, classroom or to parents of kids with special needs. There are thousands of apps in the App Store so it can be difficult to find ones to best meet our needs as SLPs.
  • When you see me post about an app being free or on sale, I always verify the price in the USA App Store prior to posting about it. But unless an app developer has shared info about sale dates, I have no way to know how long an app will be free or reduced. So it’s always best to grab apps quickly and to verify the price before downloading. App prices often change at 10:00pm CST but can change at any time with no notice.
  • App prices vary in other countries depending on the exchange rate compared to the US dollar and apps may not be available in every country.
  • If you don’t have an iPad yet or don’t have the iOS updated to the level required for a particular app, you can still take advantage of app freebies, sales and giveaways via logging onto the App Store in iTunes on your computer. Those apps will then be available to download later from the cloud.
  • I only post about iOS apps since I don’t have any Android devices.
  • Many SLP apps & AAC apps are very large so I always suggest that you get an iPad with the largest memory you can afford. Even with two 128GB iPad Airs, I am still constantly playing the “app shuffle” where I delete apps to make room to install others.
  • It’s wise to make sure an app is still available in the App Store before you delete it from your iPad since apps occasionally are removed and you would have no way to reinstall it unless you had plugged your iPad into a computer and backed it up to iTunes (a process that I know I should do more frequently).
  • It’s wise to hold off on updating to the latest iOS until it has been out for awhile and the glitches have been worked out (learned that the hard way after one of my iPads “bricked” and had to be restored to factory settings – wiped clean. The process of reinstalling and organizing apps can be tedious and I lost a couple of apps that had not been backed up).
  • It’s wise to toggle off the setting to automatically download app updates. I always look first to see what the update entails.
  • I occasionally receive promo codes to give out in app giveaways. What are app “promo codes”? App developers receive a certain number of promo codes when they release or update an app. They often give these out as a way to help spread the word about their app. If you see a “code drop”, a code is not actually “yours” until you successfully redeem it in the App Store.
  • How do I redeem a promo code? Open the App Store on your iPad. Tap the ‘Featured’ tab on the bottom navigation bar. Scroll down to the bottom and tap the ‘Redeem’ button. Enter the Promo Code and tap the ‘Redeem’ button.
  • What is a “Universal” app? Apps with the “+” sign in the corner are Universal meaning they can work on an iPhone, iTouch or iPad. Sometimes older devices are no longer supported and app developers typically indicate that in the app description.
  • The cool thing about apps is that dependable app developers continue to improve apps over time based on the feedback that they receive from users and release updates to keep apps compatible with the latest iOS operating system. So if you see a glitch in an app or have a suggestion for an improvement, please let that app developer know via e-mail, the contact form on their website or Facebook messaging. Most are very appreciative of feedback from those of use using the product in the trenches. Where else can you purchase something, make suggestions and then get free updates for a product?
  • I usually avoid apps that have ads and in-app purchases since they are distracting to patients. Be sure to know how to adjust the settings on your iPad to prevent kids from making purchases & how to use it in “airplane mode” to block most ads.
  • Guided Access: If you will be using the iPad with kids, then Guided Access is your new BFE (Best. Feature. Ever!). It can be used to disable the home button and lock the child into an app. Especially critical if you will be using the iPad as an AAC device or using it in therapy with kids with poor impulse control. Here is the PDF guide that I share with families. It shows how to set it up step by step: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2015/12/30/how-to-use-guided-access-to-prevent-exiting-an-app-best-feature-ever/
  • How to free up memory on your iPhone or iPad: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2016/11/01/ios-hack-free-up-memory-on-your-iphone-or-ipad/
  • Game Apps & AAC: why these need to be on separate devices:
    https://omazingkidsllc.com/2016/07/31/game-apps-aac-why-these-need-to-be-on-separate-devices/
  • Some great tips & reminders: http://adventuresinspeechpathology.com/the-slps-ipad-resolutions-for-2017/
  • AAC apps and tips on how SLPs can get free access to trial them with patients: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2016/06/11/aac-tips-how-slps-can-get-free-access-to-aac-apps-aac-app-user-groups-funding-options-more/
  • Apps to target core vocabulary: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2016/10/01/appy-aac-awareness-month-favorite-apps-for-teaching-aac-core-vocabulary/
  • Save tons of time, ink & laminating film by saving PDFs of materials to iBooks. The open the document on your iPad for instant no-prep activities.

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Are you an iOS App Developer and would like help beta-testing an app or would like to have your apps featured on OMazing Kids? Feel free to contact me via Facebook Messaging on OMazing Kids (I check it much more frequently than e-mail).

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Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist
Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC – inclusive wellness & educational activities for kids of all abilities
Facebook Messaging for OMazing Kids: http://m.me/OMazingKidsYoga
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsYoga
AppPeeps Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OMazingKidsAppPeeps/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/amoorad
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/amoorad1
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/OMazingKids/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/110305433538768736741
Boardmaker Share: http://www.boardmakershare.com/Community/FriendsProfile/10916/Angela-Moorad
Blog: http://omazingkidsllc.com
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Angela Moorad is the founder of OMazing Kids, LLC and is an ASHA certified & licensed pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and Kids Yoga Teacher with over 26 years experience working in a variety of settings (early intervention, schools, teletherapy & a nonprofit pediatric rehab hospital for children with developmental disabilities). She is an app beta tester for educational & therapeutic app developers and loves sharing info about great apps, products, books & toys to use with kids of all abilities.
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{please ignore any ads that may appear below. This is a free blog and I don’t have any control over ads nor do I profit from them}