Even when choosing free or affordable AAC apps you’ll want to consider the features that will best match that individual’s needs. This list is not intended to imply that a free or inexpensive AAC app is always a good idea. An app that may be fine for short term use following a surgery or during a bout of laryngitis may not have the features needed for efficient longer term AAC use. Many of these apps have unique features that could be a helpful addition to an AAC user’s communication toolbox. Many AAC users pick and choose what communication tool best suits a situation.
- Free (some have IAPs, none include ads): 5
- Affordable ($1.99 to $17.99): 6
- Prices, availability & device/iOS compatibility were all checked in the USA App Store and website links were all working at the time this post was written (updated 11:30am CST on 7/12/21). Prices may vary outside the USA based on the exchange rate.
- Screenshots and descriptions are based on features available at the time of this post. AAC apps change frequently as updates are released.
- Some apps have IAPs (in app purchases) for additional features. So after you have installed those apps and purchased anything that you wanted be sure to adjust the settings on your iPad to prevent unintended purchases.
- Some of these apps may not be available for download on your device if you are not running the minimum required iOS.
- Most of the apps on this list are “iOS Universal”. Those can be used on an iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch. But you’ll need to consider vision and fine motor skills when using them on smaller devices.
- Some have an Android version available. I don’t know how well they work on that platform since I don’t own any Android devices but sharing in case you do and want to take a look at them.
- The app developer website links are included so you can read more about the features. Many also have the story behind why that app was developed. I love reading those stories 💕
Top 11 Free and Affordable iOS Text to Speech AAC apps:
1. Speech Assistant AAC by Ton Schalke, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/speech-assistant-aac/id1139762358, iOS Universal, iOS 10.0 or later, $17.99. Nice combo of typing & phrase buttons organized by categories. Edit by “long press”. Drag & drop to reorder phrase buttons. There are lots of customization options & programming can be backed up via iCloud, e-mail and AirDrop. Definitely worth the price. The app developer updates this app frequently. The most recent update was in July 2021. More info about the features: https://www.a-soft.nl. They also have a switch capable version for $18.99. Android version (with very basic features): https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=nl.asoft.speechassistant&hl=en
2. SayIt! – easy AAC by Owen McGirr, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/sayit-easy-aac/id1119303404,, iOS Universal, iOS 14.1 or later, $15.99. More info about the features: http://sayitaac.com. Has several settings options and offers switch access & scanning. A recent update added the option to use the iOS Keyboard as well as their own built it keyboard. This allows use of keyboard extension apps. It’s very helpful to now have a full paid version of this app without IAPs. The free version offers limited features for those who want to try it out before purchasing.
3. Talk For Me – Text to Speech by Darrin Altman, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/talk-for-me-text-to-speech/id975096888, iOS Universal, iOS 12.0 or later (but an older version can be downloaded if you previously got the app), FREE. Nice combo of typing & phrase buttons. You can save messages in the Archive and can customize several pages of phrase buttons. This was my “go to” app to use when I lost my voice but still needed to provide SLP services. More info about the features: https://www.mobiletouchtech.com/talk-for-me. The app developer typically updates the app at least once a year. The most recent update was in May 2021.
4. ClaroCom by Claro Software Limited, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/clarocom/id903818521, iOS Universal, iOS 9.0 or later, FREE. Nice combo of typing & phrase buttons. Phrases can be edited and are organized by scrollable lists in categories. Lots of setting options. The last update for this app was in January 2019. There is a paid version for $16.99 with more features. More info about the features: https://www.claro-apps.com/portfolio/clarocom/
5. Quick Type AAC by Digital Scribbler, Inc, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/quick-type-aac/id818079924, iOS Universal, iOS 9.0 or later, $1.99. Just typing (no phrase buttons). Has several voices and setting options, word prediction and a nice large pop up Yes/No button. Definitely worth the price. The last update for this app was in November 2017. More info about the features: https://digitalscribbler.com/quick-type-aac/. Android version: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.digitalscribbler.quicktype&hl=en
6. HandySpeech by Eric Zeiberg, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/handyspeech/id563600464, iOS Universal, iOS 8.2 or later, $2.99. Unique combo of handwriting to text to speech, also can type. Can save phrases and delete them but they can’t be edited, re-ordered or organized into categories. You can create shorthand shortcuts. Helpful for those who find writing easier than typing but still want voice output. It has very good handwriting recognition even when using your finger instead of a stylus. Definitely worth the price. The most recent update was in December 2020. More info about the features: http://www.ispeak4u.com
7. MyVoice – Tap or Type to Talk by John Ciocca, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/myvoice-tap-or-type-to-talk/id1111359925, iOS Universal, iOS 11 or later. $8.99. Unique combo of typing text to speech and handwriting to text to speech. Also has a Picture Talk section that has phrases with icons saved in categories. You can add your own custom phrases with pictures and that is synced in iCloud across devices on the same account. You can delete customized items but they can’t be edited, re-ordered or organized into categories. Additional assistive technology features include: Read Talk (uses OCR technology to take a picture, scan the text and read it aloud), Look Talk (use the camera to recognize an item and name it aloud – works best when there is only one item in view and you are close to it), Mirror Talk (I could see SLPs using that with adults post-stroke) and Word Talk (a random written word appears on the screen for the user to practice). Definitely worth the price. The most recent update was in June 2020. Read a feature story about the app developer in the App Store: https://apps.apple.com/us/story/id1437330451.
8. Text to Speech App by Georgi Zlatinov, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/text-to-speech-app/id1217484042, iOS Universal, iOS 10.0 or later, $1.99. Primarily designed to paste in text and have it read aloud but can also use as a Text to Speech app for AAC. The text is highlighted in red as it is read. It uses the iOS keyboard so you have the option of using keyboard extension apps on an iPad. Nice simple interface. Worth the price. The most recent update was in July 2019. You’ll need to read the description of features in the description for this app on the App Store since the app developer’s website doesn’t contain that info.
9. Text to speech – Talkie by Arctic Oudshoorn, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/text-to-speech-talkie/id1156128552, iOS Universal (iOS 9.0 or later), FREE. Unique combo of text to speech, save messages on buttons & a whiteboard. More info about the features: https://www.talkie-app.com. Android version: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=nl.tribble.talkie. The most recent update was in July 2021. That removed the option for the yellow background and the option to use it on an Apple Watch. It also fixed the ability to save to buttons and added a translation option.
10. Verbally by Intuary, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/verbally/id418671377, iPad only, iOS 8.0 or later, FREE. The voices in the free version are a little robotic but there are some options for keyboard placements. It uses it’s own keyboard so keyboard extension apps cannot be used with this app. There is a paid version with more features but it is pretty expensive ($99.99). More info about the features: http://verballyapp.com. Note: neither version has been updated since October 2015 so it’s unknown how much longer this app will work as Apple releases updated iOS.
11. AAC Bestie Text to Speech by Elephant Enterprises LLC, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/aac-bestie-text-to-speech/id1391136811, iOS Universal, iOS 11.0 or later, FREE with IAP for additional features. Requires a subscription if you want to customize any of the phrase folders, access more pre-stored phrase folders, backup / restore programming. Website with contact form if you have questions about features: https://www.aacbestie.com/hi. The most recent update was in July 2021.
Honorable Mention: Spoken – Tap to Talk AAC by Spoken Inc., https://apps.apple.com/us/app/spoken-tap-to-talk-aac/id1034487817, iOS Universal, iOS 11.0 or later, FREE (limited to 500 words, then requires subscription via IAP to keep access to high quality voices, personalized word prediction and saved phrases, $12.99 per month or $99.99 per year). The app has several nice features (can personalize word prediction, has options for Large Print, Dark Mode, Show Keyboard on Start, Speak each Word as Entered, Predict Using Past Speech) and several good voice options. They have chosen unique names for the voices but I recognized them from my other AAC apps. There are two US English voices: Dandelion (Justin, US male child voice) & Violet (Ivy, US female child). The app uses the iOS Keyboard so keyboard extension apps can be used. The only reason why this app isn’t higher on the list is you lose access to high quality voices, saved phrases and personalized word prediction after the “500 premium words” are used. Once I run out of words and see what the voices options and remaining features are, I may change the ranking based on what free features are available. The subscription price would exclude it from being included in this list.
More info: https://spokenaac.com
Unless otherwise indicated, the apps on the list above use the native iOS keyboard. When using those apps on an iPad, you may want to look at a variety of keyboard extension apps. Exploring alternative keyboards can be a game changer for making typing as a means of AAC accessible. Those apps would require a separate purchase. Scroll down to that section on this blog post: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2020/05/17/ios-apps-for-early-exploration-of-typing-specialized-keyboards-compiled-by-angela-moorad-ms-ccc-slp-founder-of-omazing-kids/. A couple are specifically for kids but the rest would be helpful for a wide range of ages.
And two free Text to Speech AAC apps primarily designed for use via head tracking:
- Vocable AAC by WillowRoot Apps, LLC., https://apps.apple.com/us/app/vocable-aac/id1497040547, iOS Universal, iOS 13.0 or later, FREE. Unique combo of typing via touch or head tracking. Primarily sharing it so folks who may need head tracking will know about it. I liked the phrase buttons. The keyboard area has been improved and is now much easier to use on an iPhone and iPad. I’m able to use the Head Tracking on my iPad 8th gen and iPhone 11. It took a little getting used to but could definitely see this being a helpful feature. More info about the features and a list of compatible devices: https://www.vocable.app. Android version: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.willowtree.vocable
2. Jabberwocky AAC by Swiftable LLC, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/jabberwocky-aac/id1438561966, iOS Universal, iOS 12.0 or later, FREE. Unique combo of typing via touch or head tracking. I found it a little difficult to use via touch. When trying out the head tracking, I found the QWERTY layout easier to use than the ABC layout). Primarily sharing it so folks who may need head tracking will know about it. More info about the features: https://www.jabberwockyapp.com/aac
7/12/21: Unfortunately the Sesame Talking Keyboard app by Sesame Enable has totally disappeared from the USA App Store (not even in the Purchased area: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/sesame-talking-keyboard/id1478544364, iOS Universal, iOS 9.0 or later. FREE. Unique combo of typing via touch or head tracking. Primarily sharing it so folks who may need head tracking will know about it. I tried out head tracking and it would take some practice to get good at typing with it but it is cool that it didn’t require such specific devices. More info about the features: https://www.sesame-enable.com.
There are several more expensive text to speech AAC apps with robust features. If you are considering those, I highly suggest an evaluation, feature match process & trial of options before purchasing or making purchasing recommendations.
The Ace Centre has a nice overview of options in several text-based AAC apps in this playlist on their YouTube channel:
How to find the AT Lending Library in your state: https://www.at3center.net/stateprogram. Many have iPads with AAC apps on them available for short term loan to help with the eval process. But you’ll need to check to see if yours is open and still loaning equipment out during the pandemic.
Another option for SLPs is to see this post for tips on how you can get free access to AAC apps, AAC app user groups, funding options & more: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2016/06/11/aac-tips-how-slps-can-get-free-access-to-aac-apps-aac-app-user-groups-funding-options-more/
Want to suggest an iOS text-based AAC app to be added to this list? The best way to reach me is via Facebook messaging over on my OMazing Kids page. I’m pretty picky so they need to be well designed apps and be transparent/honest about any IAPs or subscriptions and not have any ads. If it’s a free app, please send the link from the USA App Store so I can download and try it out. If it’s a paid app that’s priced at $19.99 or less in the USA App Store and you are the app developer, please send the link from the USA App Store so I can look at the info before you send a promo code. I want to make sure that one of my iPads is compatible in order to try it out.
It took me quite a bit of time to compile this list so please “tag” or mention OMazing Kids when sharing it on social media and do not copy/paste it onto other blogs or documents or upload it to servers. I have it available here on my blog and plan on keeping my blog up for the foreseable future.
Looking for Android AAC Apps? Head over to this post: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2020/12/01/android-aac-apps/. Includes sections for symbol-based & text to speech with robust and free/affordable options in each.
Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP, Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC
OMazing Kids AAC Consulting
Teachers Pay Teachers Store: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Omazing-Kids-Aac-Consulting
Personal Professional Facebook Page (linked to OMazing Kids): https://www.facebook.com/angela.moorad (adding “friends” who have a direct role in AAC or Assistive Technology – AAC / AT app or product developers, AAC / AT consultants, SLPs who specialize in AAC, other professionals who specialize in AAC or AT, etc.)
OMazing Kids Business Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsAAC/
AppPeeps Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OMazingKidsAppPeeps/