This post is focusing on Free and Affordable Symbol-Based AAC apps for iOS – iPad and iPhone, Android – Google Play and Amazon, Windows & Web Browsers…plus how to find Open Source Symbols.
If you’ve followed my OMazing Kids blog and social media sites for any length of time you know that I am a strong believer in starting with robust AAC instead of looking for “basic” or “starter” options and working up to something more robust.
(*** See the Feature Matching Chart for the Top 12 Robust iOS Symbol-Based AAC Apps for details about those apps: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Feature-Matching-Chart-for-the-Top-12-Robust-iOS-Symbol-Based-AAC-Apps-6867853. More info: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2022/01/29/updated-expanded-feature-matching-chart-for-the-top-12-robust-ios-symbol-based-aac-apps/ ***)
Under typical circumstances that would still be true… but the COVID-19 / Coronavirus pandemic has led to far less than “typical” circumstances. In many states the AT Lending libraries are either closed or not currently loaning out devices or iPads with AAC apps. In many areas, services are either on hold or being provided remotely via teletherapy.
I’ve seen an increase in posts from parents (or SLPs on behalf of parents) asking about free or affordable symbol-based AAC apps that they can be trying out at home in the midst of these less than ideal circumstances. So I felt compelled to share what I know in a blog post.
I am not implying that a free or inexpensive app is always the ideal way to meet most communication needs. But in the midst of a pandemic you make do with what you have.
You may need to use a combination of several apps and add it to existing communication such as True Object Based Icons (TOBIs), facial expressions, gestures, vocalizations, etc. That individual can then pick what methods work best for them in any given situation. We all use various modes of communication (words, gestures, emojis, texting, drawing, etc).
Even when choosing a free or affordable AAC app you’ll want to consider the features that will best match that individual’s needs.
- Free (some have IAPs, one has ads that can be blocked with Airplane Mode): 28 iOS, 9 Google Play Android, 1 Amazon, 1 Windows, 3 web browser
- Affordable ($14.99 or less): 9 iOS, 3 Google Play, 2 Amazon, 1 Windows, 1 web browser
FYI for iOS apps:
- 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 (3:00pm CST on 7/13/20). Prices may vary outside the USA based on the exchange rate. Apps may not be available in every country.
- Screenshots and descriptions are based on features available at the time of this post. AAC apps change frequently as updates are released.
- A few apps have the the ability to link buttons to videos & music. These work best when those are short and saved on that device. Trust me it’s worth the extra effort to save those onto the device to insure they will play immediately and consistently. YouTube videos are notorious for disappearing and you may not always have a WiFi connection. I’ve included emoji icons for film and/or music to indicate that on the main photo collage above and described in detail in the app descriptions below.
- Unless otherwise indicated, these apps do not include a way to back up / restore programming. That’s not necessarily a deal breaker if programming is simple and would be easy to redo. But if you plan on doing a lot of customizations to an app you’ll want to think about how much it would be worth to you to pay a little bit (or a little more) in order to have a way to back up your work.
- 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.
- If you decide that a particular app is a good match for that individual and you want to purchase the full version, I always recommend that you do so by purchasing the full version of the app directly in the App Store (if available) vs. upgrading a lite app via IAP. Trust me on this…. I’ve been burned more than once on trying to restore IAPs.
- Some of these apps may not be available for download on your device if you are not running the minimum required iOS.
- Many of these apps 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. A few of the apps on this list are “iPad only”.
- The app developer website links are included so you can read more about the features.
- If you truly want a child to learn that they can use an iPad or iPhone to communicate, then they will need to only use that particular device for that purpose. Ideally any other games or videos should be on a separate device. You’ll need to use Guided Access to lock the child into only using the AAC app. When an iPad or iPhone battery gets low it may turn off Guided Access. So be sure you have adjusted settings and have the device in Airplane Mode to prevent deleting apps, making purchases, making in-app purchases, accessing the internet, etc… Adult and older teen AAC users may be better equipped to make choices to navigate in/out of an AAC app to use a tablet for other purposes…. but I have not found that to be true for young children. If given an unlocked iPad or iPhone most would prefer to just watch videos or play with other apps. Locking them into the AAC app is intended to provide them the opportunity to learn the power of communication via AAC.
Free and Affordable iOS AAC apps
These are all apps that I have used and recommend:
- GoTalk NOW LITE by Attainment Company, Inc., https://apps.apple.com/us/app/gotalk-now-lite/id953164338, iPad only, iOS 9.0 or later, you can create one communication book with up to five pages, can have 1, 2, 4, 9, 16, 25, 36 or 49 buttons per page, FREE with IAPs for additional voices, additional symbol sets and pre-made communication books. There is no pre-made content included in this free version of the app. When using the free lite version of this app I just use one of the enhanced iOS voices and import my own pictures from the Camera Roll or use the in app option to search the internet for pictures. If I need to use a symbol for a particular button, I’ll either send one to import to that iPad’s Camera Roll via AirDrop or as an attachment in a text message or e-mail or will open up the PDF of a free manual communication board and take a screenshot.
There is not a way to backup programming in this free lite version of the app.
There is not an “official” or consistent way to import a board but I recently stumbled upon a backdoor way to import a single page board. This backdoor method didn’t work consistently but I was able to get a few of the single page boards that I created in GoTalk Now Plus to open up in the free lite app via a copy that was e-mailed or backed up on Google Drive. I was especially excited about being able to do this for the Core Board, a Big Red Round Button with High Contrast Rainbow Video And Upbeat Music for CVI, and a page for the Incredible 5 Point Scale. These all would take quite a bit of time to recreate. I have no idea why it didn’t work on all single page boards or on boards with more than one page (since the free app allows up to 5 pages). It’s too complicated to describe here and may not work for you but if you want to know how I did it feel free to send me a private message on my OMazing Kids Facebook page.
This is by far my favorite free lite AAC app due to it being fully functional, very easy to program, the ability to resize pictures within the button and have several pics on a button, options for colors on the page background, button background & button border, intuitive to use, the ability to link buttons to videos & music (works best when those are short and saved on that device vs. trying to play YouTube videos), how easy it is to hide/unhide buttons, the option to use recorded speech & text to speech, options for switch and scanning, lots of “settings” options, great in-app manual, can add a keyboard page (and since it uses the iPad iOS keyboard you would have the option of using 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 but most are very affordable. 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.), etc…. The app includes a free download of the GoTalk Now Image Library. The app developer does a great job keeping the app updated (Last update: January 2022). At some point in the future it would be nice if they updated the app to be iOS Universal so it could also work on an iPhone. The fact that they offer such a good free lite app is one of the main reasons the paid versions of this app are rarely on sale. I know I am not alone in my love for this app since one of the most frequent requests is from folks wanting to know if there is a free Android app or a free iPhone app like GoTalk NOW LITE. The answer to both of those is “No…. not with all these features.”. There are a few apps that offer the ability to make simple boards (see separate section below) but they are not nearly as full featured as this app. More info: https://www.attainmentcompany.com/gotalk-now-lite.
If you feel that GoTalk Now is going to be a good longer term AAC option for that individual, then I recommend considering purchasing the GoTalk Now Plus version of the app since it includes a large library of SymbolStix symbols, one pre-made communication book, you can have an unlimited number of communication books and pages, it includes several higher quality Acapela voices, you have access to their free Online Gallery of templates and items created/shared by others, you have a way to backup/restore programming, etc…. GoTalk NOW PLUS by Attainment Company
https://apps.apple.com/us/app/gotalk-now-plus/id742150885, $169.99. More info: https://www.attainmentcompany.com/gotalk-now-plus).
If you don’t want SymbolStix symbols or a premade communication book, then take a look at this version of the app: GoTalk NOW by Attainment Company, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/gotalk-now/id454176457, $99.99. More info: https://www.attainmentcompany.com/gotalk-now.
The GoTalk Start version of the app is NOT recommended since you are still limited to one book with 5 pages and don’t have a way to backup programming. I know it looks tempting for $19.99…. but the only thing you get that the free version doesn’t have is more Text to Speech voice options.
- ChatterBoards AAC by Paul Popiel, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/chatterboards-aac/id1133918740, iOS Universal, iOS 10.3 or later. Usually $12.99 -> currently FREE. The app developer does a great job of keeping the app updated. Last update: November 2020.
Easy to program, can copy/paste buttons, uses high quality iOS Text to Speech voices with the ability to adjust the rate/pitch/volume or record your own, includes a library of open source symbols and can import or take your own pics. I love that boards can be complex with folders and lots of buttons or they can be very simple (1 huge button that fills almost the entire screen and the whole area can be activated; 2 buttons, 3 buttons, etc.). You can set up “levels” in boards to only show a few buttons at a time and gradually unmask buttons. When you edit it gives you options for the number of rows (1 to 16) x number of columns (1 to 16). You can change the button color and the button border color. It even has a pre-made board with two large Yes/No buttons that can be edited. You can easily toggle back and forth between symbols and a typing board. This app uses its own unique keyboard so keyboard extension apps are not an option. Lots of TTS iOS voice languages: Arabic, Chinese (China mainland, Hong Kong, Taiwan), Czech, Danish, Dutch (Belgium, Netherlands), English (Australia, UK, Ireland, India, USA, South Africa), Finnish, French (Canada, France), German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil, Portugal), Romanian, Russian, Slovakian, South Korean, Spanish (Mexico, Spain), Swedish, Thai, Turkish. Can adjust rate & pitch.
It’s a huge plus that you can easily and reliably backup/restore and share boards. Great for those trying to support a family member or patient remotely. You can e-mail a copy of that board for the family or user to install on their device or for you to install across your own devices. I did that several times today between my iPad & my iPhone and it worked every time & included everything that I programmed (even recorded voice that I did on a board). You can also save and restore from Google Drive. It also showed DropBox as an option but I didn’t try that since I’ve pretty much maxed out my free DropBox account.
I just got this app a couple of weeks ago and am seriously LOVING how versatile it is. You’ll see it mentioned in every section of this post for that reason. More info about the app: http://chatterboards-aac.com
Another update: As of 2/3/22, Bridge Communication Pro is now called Bridge Communication and is priced at $2.99, most recent update: January 2022. Bridge Communication Lite has been renamed as Bridge Communication Builder has totally changed to be a blank template for those who want to build from scratch and is priced at $2.99, most recent update: January 2022 (*** Note: If you previously purchased this app and want to keep the previous format, do NOT install the update). Both versions of the app are iOS Universal + also work on an Mac Computer with an Apple M1 chip. Check out the Bridge Communication Users Group on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2091643344396290/?ref=share
Update: As of 10/22/20 the prices went back up on these two apps. I am leaving the info in this post since they were in the target price range at the time the post was written and the info about the features will be helpful to those considering these apps. Bridge Communication Lite is now $29.99 & Bridge Communication Pro is now $49.99. The app developer has indicated that they are working on an update that will make both iOS Universal so they will be able to work on an iPhone as well as an iPad.
- BRIDGE Communication Lite by Bioprism, Inc., https://apps.apple.com/us/app/bridge-communication-lite/id983660714, iPad only, iOS 9.3.5 or later, $4.99. A fabulous app at this price! I love the large buttons, that it comes with 1,200 preloaded vocabulary items, phrases & sentences, has SymbolStix symbols on brightly colored buttons, gives visual feedback when an item has been tapped, how easy it is to hide/unhide buttons, the ability to add new buttons using pictures from your Camera Roll, the option to add a video to a button, how easy it is to print pages from within the app, the option to toggle off/on the folder being named, has a good in-app instructions section, etc… The app also has a typing text to speech page that uses the iOS keyboard (but for some reason iOS keyboard extension apps don’t work within the app. That would be on my wishlist for a future app update). SLPs will also be interested in the unique “Articulation” section that can be toggled on/off within the app. It has 2,800 targets. I used it quite a bit and like how they have the targets organized. This app is used with the iPad in “portrait” orientation instead of the more common “landscape” orientation. The app developer does a great job keeping the app updated (Last update: May 2020). At some point in the future it would be nice if they updated the app to be iOS Universal so it could also work on an iPhone. More info: https://gobridgeapp.com.
- BRIDGE Communication Pro by Bioprism, Inc., https://apps.apple.com/us/app/bridge-communication-pro/id1358326786, iPad only, iOS 9.3.5 or later, $9.99. Definitely worth the additional $5.00 in price for all the extra features. Has the same content and features as the lite version + the following extra features: a library of SymbolStix symbols that can be accessed when editing or adding buttons, ability to edit the background color of folders and buttons, ability to add and edit folders and page, ability to add videos to buttons, ability to edit or remove default buttons, folders or pages, ability to back up/recover programming, etc.. It’s a plus that you can easily and reliably backup/restore boards. The backup/recover is done via their server vs. more traditional means (Google Drive, DropBox, AirDrop, e-mail, etc.). They don’t have a limit on how many e-mail accounts you can register within the app so that might be a possible means of doing remote programming. Last update: May 2020. See this chart on their website showing all of the extra features in this version of the app: https://gobridgeapp.com/app-features/
- MyTalkTools Mobile Lite by 2nd Half Enterprises LLC, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/mytalktools-mobile-lite/id376401959, iOS Universal + has some iMessaging capability, iOS 9.3 or later, FREE with IAP for additional features. Includes pre-made content and the ability to add your own. Includes 7 options for a pre-made starter board when setting up a new user: Adult Male lite (165 buttons – can edit any existing buttons but can’t add new ones), Adult Female lite (165 buttons – can edit any existing buttons but can’t add new ones), Child Male lite (130 buttons – can edit any existing buttons but can’t add new ones), Child Female lite (132 buttons – can edit any existing buttons but can’t add new ones), Blank Board (up to 20 buttons – build from scratch), Hospital Rehab (298 buttons – can edit any existing buttons but can’t add new ones) & Basic Starter (has 12 buttons among the linked boards – all can be edited, can add 8 more buttons). The board that you select also determines what voice will be used. Choose “Blank Board” if you want to build your own board or board set from scratch. This version of the app is limited to 20 buttons but those can all be on one board or be on separate linked boards. But if you edit one of the existing Adult or Child lite boards or the Hospital Rehab board you can replace existing items on buttons to have a board that is much larger than 20 buttons. I suggest looking through all the board options by setting up a new user for each board. Then decide which one is closest to what you want to reduce the amount of editing needed. You can layer a universal ‘No’ symbol over any button to show that an item isn’t currently available (the user can still tap the button to request it but the universal ‘No’ is a helpful visual cue). Option to have linked page as pop up vs navigating to a new page. Can add a video to a button. It plays full screen and you can exit the video player before it’s finished. There are quite a few settings options for this app. Go to the Settings area on your device and scroll down to find this app. If you have lots of apps like I do, you’ll need to wait a bit for that app list to fully show up. Last update: February 2019. More info: http://www.mytalktools.com/dnn/2/Home.aspx. The best way to learn about all the features is to read through the very detailed online Users Manual: http://na.createsend1.com/t/d-l-dutuhud-l-t/ (currently 229 pages) and the Quick Start PowerPoint: https://1drv.ms/p/s!Ajwvnq4o_JC4gb5SgwRoKgiNy5Yi7w. I’ve just recently discovered several features that have moved this app way up on my list. It’s not as intuitive as GoTalk Now Lite but has tons to offer for being a free lite app. I especially like the Hospital Rehab board and could see it being quite helpful in the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic. I don’t own a paid version of this app so I cannot comment on whether or not those are worth the price. They offer SLPs free access to their MyTalk Workspace online authoring tool: http://na.createsend1.com/t/d-l-dutjiut-l-o/. There is also an Android version (see list below).
The most unique part of this app is the option to use it within iMessaging text messaging and that you can sync your page with the free “workspace” and then sync it with another device. I used a blank template to create a 4 x 5 grid and programmed it with phrases I might typically say when chatting via text message and used screenshots from another AAC app for the symbols. There isn’t a way to string together words to create a sentence within the iMessaging version of the app but a miniature version of the board you created appears in the iMessaging stickers area. Each button you tap is sent as a separate text message and is spoken aloud. If two users were both using this app then they would have a very basic symbol supported means of communicating via text. The LetMeTalk app also has the option to send a message with symbols but it’s done in a quirky way (see info above). The CoughDrop app is the only AAC option that I’ve seen that can send the text and symbols together in a cohesive message via iMessaging and e-mail (see info below).
It’s a plus that you can easily and reliably backup/restore boards from their MyTalk Workspace. But there is not a way to share boards with the free version of this app.
- SymboTalk – AAC Talker by Elad Elram, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/symbotalk-aac-talker/id1294023783, iOS Universal, iOS 9.0 or later, FREE, has an in-app purchase for Cloud Services: Share, Sync & Backup ($.99 per month). There is not a way to backup/restore programming without subscribing via IAP. Includes pre-made content and the ability to add your own. There are lots of grid size options, option for a high contrast black background, several language options that translate the entire app. Uses open source ARASAAC symbols and when editing you can search for symbols from an online library with more than 60,000 open source symbols including ARASAAC, Mulberry and Sclera. You can also import your own images. The app developer does a good job keeping the app updated. Last update: January 2022. More info: https://www.symbotalk.com. Facebook SymboTalk Users Support Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/symbotalk. YouTube channel playlist with “how to” videos: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLWu0uf__iyiFeEnPIEU9I8zW2HL4lpK0s . There is also an Android version (see list below) and can also be used online. The ability to use an online web-based version looks helpful to SLPs doing therapy via distance learning / teletherapy. Scroll down towards the end of this post for more FREE open source web-based AAC options.
- LetMeTalk by AppNotize UG (haftungsbeschraenkt), https://apps.apple.com/us/app/letmetalk/id919990138, iOS Universal, iOS 8.0 or later, FREE. Includes pre-made content and the ability to add your own. Several language options. Uses open source ARASAAC symbols and when editing you can search for symbols from a library. A message with symbols can be sent via text message and e-mail. The words in the message are in a list when sent via e-mail. When sent via text, the symbols appear one at a time and then the words afterwards. Cool to discover this but still not quite ideal for symbol supported communication via text and e-mail. There are several options for button sizes. The app uses scrolling instead of “next page” buttons when there are more buttons to see than can fit on the screen. The number of buttons that can fit on the screen without needing to scroll will depend on the size setting you choose for the sentence bar, the size of your device’s screen & whether you are using the app in Landscape or Portrait orientation. There is a gap between buttons (can be helpful in preventing misactivations but is wasted screen real estate for those who have a refined ability to touch specific buttons). You can change the border color on buttons but not the background color of the page. The app is pretty easy to program once you play around with it for a bit. There are several unsecured links in the app and the “parental control” setting didn’t do anything so be sure to use this app in Airplane Mode after getting it set up. The app indicates that you can “share” profiles as a way to share pages and back up programming. I was able to send a profile via e-mail and back it up to Google Drive but then was NOT able to open those files on any of my devices. It’s been almost 2 years since the app has been updated so my guess is there must be a glitch…. just something to keep in mind. There isn’t a reliable way to backup/restore programming. Although the app is available on iOS, Google Play & Amazon since it’s not a web-based app you cannot share programming across platforms. Last update: August 2018. More about the app: http://www.letmetalk.info. There are also Android versions – Google Play & Amazon (see list below). *** Update 2/3/22: The Android version and the website both seem to be missing ***
- Alexicom AAC by Alexicom Tech LLC, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/alexicom-aac/id395122088, iOS Universal, iOS 9.0 or later, FREE (Update 2/3/22: price now 99 cents). Includes pre-made content and the ability to add your own. You can create new pages and set the number of rows, number of columns & pic width. FYI…. if you tap on the “info” area and scroll all the way to the bottom there is a list of “pic width” numbers that work best with various combinations of rows & columns. You can use 1 row, 1 column, 600 pic width to have the one large button but the outer portions of that button did not activate when tapped. Only the area taken up by the picture can be activated. I wish there was a way to resize pictures within the button to fill up the whole button or more of the button. The interface takes some getting used to and it always takes me a bit to figure out how to program but once I get going then it’s not too difficult. I highly suggest recording your own speech since the text to speech voice quality isn’t great for buttons that you create. The voice quality is okay in the pre-made content. It may not be the most intuitive app to program or use but it’s one that has been around since 2010 and has a good track record of being updated. It’s reassuring that it’s unlikely that this AAC app will disappear like so many others have over the past few years. The app settings include the option to toggle on iCloud backup but I couldn’t figure out how you restore programming. It would be nice if there was a way to back up to Google Drive or DropBox and to share pages that have been created without needing a subscription. Their website indicates that with an Alexicom Pro subscription you can access all of Alexicom Tech’s AAC page sets, use on-line editing tools, and publish your pages onto any device through the free Alexicom AAC app ($9.99/mo or $96/yr.). I haven’t tried that out so I can’t comment on how well it works. The app developer does a good job keeping the app updated. Last update: June 2021. More info: https://www.alexicomaac.com/#free-app. YouTube tutorial videos: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2vmcfulDlVvI8cqfCN2MHw. There is also an Android version (see list below). This app developer also has several apps specifically designed for adults in medical situations. Those are all currently free. And they have several “Elements” apps currently priced at $19.99 each. Some include SymbolStix symbols & some include real photos: https://www.alexicomaac.com/#elements-apps.
- Tap Chat | AAC Speech Boards by Apollo Studios, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/tap-chat-aac-speech-boards/id1350503290, iOS Universal, iOS 10.1 or later, basic features are FREE. Includes pre-made content and the ability to make a copy of an existing board and edit the buttons with their symbols or your own picture, edit the text and to record the messages or use text to speech. There are 2 adult and 2 child voices to choose from. There is not a traditional way to back up / restore boards but the website indicates they are saved in the cloud. There is a library of boards that others have created and made public to browse through. You can create a copy of any of those and then edit them to meet your needs. If you don’t want your board shared be sure to keep it set as “private” (default setting). Using more than one device? Simply log in with your Tap Chat account and your boards will load onto it. A subscription is required for more features and full customization. Last update: June 2018. More info: http://www.tap.chat. There is also an Android version (see list below). Since the website indicates that these are “cloud based boards” then you may be able to share boards across platforms. I don’t have any Android devices to try that out.
- CommBoards by Dana Fridman, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/commboards/id1522541894, iPad only, iOS 9.3 or later, $14.99 (Update 2/3/22: price now $19.99). Includes pre-made content and the ability to add your own. This app developer just released the iOS version of this app in July 2020 (most recent update: March 2021). It’s one that I’ve seen for Android on the Google Play App Store so it’s cool to finally be able to try it out. There is not currently a way to backup programming but the app developer indicated that they plan to add that soon and will be updating the app frequently. More info: http://commboardsapp.com. There are also Android versions – Google Play & Amazon (see list below).
- Grid Player by Sensory Software International, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/grid-player/id456278671, iOS Universal, iOS 7.0 or later, FREE. Includes pre-made content in four grid sets: Symbol Talker A, Symbol Talker B, Talking Photos and Text Talker Phrasebook. The content that is included is well designed and helpful. It may give you an idea of what to program in another app since you cannot edit or add your own content to this app unless you have one of their devices. Has two voice choices. Since the update was almost 4 years ago so I’m not sure how much longer this app will continue to work when a new iOS is released. More info: https://thinksmartbox.com/product/grid-player/. My guess is that they will be focusing on the much newer Grid for iPad app (there is a free version of that app but it only has a short trial and then requires a subscription). Last update: July 2016. More info: https://thinksmartbox.com/product/grid-player/.
- Sono Flex Lite by Tobii Dynavox LLC, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/sono-flex-lite/id463709444, iOS Universal, iOS 8.0 or later. FREE. Includes pre-made content. Cannot edit or add your own content. I do NOT recommend purchasing the full version of this app since it took quite awhile for the app developer to update it for iOS 11 and they have made it very clear that their focus is on the newer TD Snap AAC app. Last update: March 2018. More info: https://www.tobiidynavox.com/en-US/software/ipad-apps/sono-flex-for-ios-1/. They offer a free TD Snap Lite app but it only has voice output during the trial period: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/td-snap-lite/id1072799231, has several IAPs. ASHA certified SLPs – see my blog post about how you can get long term access to voice output in that and other robust AAC apps: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2022/01/29/how-slps-and-slts-can-get-access-to-the-top-12-robust-symbol-based-aac-apps/
- Widgit Go Basic by Widgit, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/widgit-go-basic/id864040731, iOS Universal, iOS 9.3 or later. FREE. Includes pre-made content. Cannot edit or add your own content. Would be most helpful for those living in the U.K. since the content cannot be edited. Widgit symbols are more commonly used there. I have used the following activity boards within this free app quite a bit: Simon Says, Shopping List (great to pair with toy foods and grocery store props), Story Planner (great as a visual support for teaching story elements) and Date Today (great for Calendar time since it includes days of the week, date (month/day) and weather). I do not own the full app so cannot comment on whether or not it is worth getting. Last update: March 2018. More info: https://www.widgit.com/products/widgit-go/index.htm?_route_=widgitgo. (Not AAC but thought it was worth sharing …. I do own these Widgit apps and have found them helpful: Symbols2Write by Widgit, https://apps.apple.com/us/app-bundle/symbols2write/id931886845, unique symbol supported sentence creation bundle of 4 apps)
- Posco AAC by Bryan Keller, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/posco-aac/id545435661, iOS Universal + Apple Watch, iOS 8.0 or later, watchOS 2.2 or later, $4.99. Uses open source ARASAAC symbols. Includes pre-made content and the ability to add your own. Buttons can be reordered. Can use recorded voice or text to speech. Can add pics saved on your Camera Roll or by taking a picture. The website is gone and the last update was over 4 years ago so I’m not sure how much longer this app will continue to work when a new iOS is released. Works fine on my iPhone 7 running iOS 13.5.1. Last update: May 2016. (*** Update 2/3/22: This app is missing from the App Store)
- InnerVoice Smart Communication by iTherapy, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/innervoice-smart-communication/id730856179, iOS Universal, iOS 11.4 or later, FREE. They have made some nice improvements in their last few updates. The avatar technology has greatly improved and I thought it was cool that I could import my Facebook avatar or any other pic to use in the app. The app is free now and the basic features are all free to use. Includes pre-made content. Cannot edit or add your own without purchasing the IAP (either $4.99 per month or one-time purchase of $99.99). The app developer does a good job keeping the app updated. Last update: November 2021. More info: https://innervoiceapp.com & https://innervoiceapp.com/support/ . (Update 2/3/22: They removed the option to create your own avatar from the free features. That either requires a subscription or purchasing the full app which is expensive at $99.99)
- Verbal Me by fishdog, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/verbal-me/id495853688, iOS Universal, iOS 9.0 or later, $6.99. Includes pre-made content and the ability to edit 25 “custom” button pages. Those customized boards also allow you to edit the name of the board, edit the button color, add a picture to the button and text. Uses text to speech with a male or female voice. The app developer does a good job keeping the paid version of the app updated. Last update: June 2021. More info: http://www.fishdog.net/verbal-me/ (free lite version: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/verbal-me-sampler/id504978876, limited content, only 4 pages can be edited and only two of those allow pictures to be added to the buttons – field of 2 choices and field of 6 choices. Last update for the free version: June 2021.)
- Verbal Me Español by fishdog.net, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/verbal-me-espa%C3%B1ol/id747621945, iOS Universal, iOS 8.0 or later, $3.99. Includes pre-made content (much less than the English version) and the ability to edit 10 “custom” button pages (can only add text to the buttons on these pages). But for the price it includes pre-made content and a text to speech keyboard that speaks the letter and complete word that could be helpful in an educational setting. Uses text to speech with a male or female Spanish voice. Last update: August 2017.
- See Me Talk by Kevin Hanasyk, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/see-me-talk/id590399460, iPad only, iOS 8.0 or later, $9.99. I love the unique look and feel of this app. Parts of it remind me of a PECS book. I like the unique symbols, love that the symbols are included if you print the sentence strip and how the app showcases what is being spoken from the sentence strip. It’s easy to program and much more affordable than the PECS iv+ app or any other “PECS-like” app. Includes pre-made content and the ability to add your own. Can search among pre-made and created content. Can edit and add categories & cards and re-order them. Uses text to speech with a male or female voice. Last update: September 2020. More info: https://www.seemetalkapp.com/features.
- Tom Taps Speak – AAC for Kids by Archmob Pte Ltd, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/tom-taps-speak-aac-for-kids/id805544185, iPad only, iOS 7.0 or later, FREE, IAPs for additional content and the ability to customize. Includes a lot of nice pre-made content. Cannot edit or add your own content unless you purchase the IAP. I don’t recommend purchasing any of the IAPs since the app hasn’t been updated since March 2015. I don’t know how well it will work with newer versions of iOS. More info: http://tomtaps.com/tom-taps-speak-2/.
- Card Talk by LITALICO Inc., https://apps.apple.com/us/app/card-talk/id1219854974, iOS Universal, iOS 8.0 or later, FREE. The App Store description mentions an IAP to unlock “All Functions” but the latest update indicates that you can create up to 200 additional cards without needing to purchase anything. Includes pre-made content and the ability to add your own. It’s easy to add your own cards with recorded speech. They are added to a folder called “Original”. You can limit the items shown by creating “decks” and choosing “deck” under “selectable cards” in the settings area. I did not find a way to back up programming or move the card that I added to one of the existing folders. The cards are a little larger when using the app with your iPad in “portrait” orientation. The app has 10 language options. Last update: May 2018. More info: https://app.litalico.com/cardtalk/index.html.
- AAC Expression Toolkit by Mina Makary, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/aac-expression-toolkit/id1308082746, iOS Universal, iOS 9.0 or later, FREE. Last update: October 2019. The description in the App Store mentions a free trial period and then a subscription but the website is missing so I was not able to find out details. Seemed odd since the app was updated fairly recently. I tapped “skip” on the Sign Up / Sign In screen and the app appears to include all basic content but would require a subscription to customize the app. Since the website is missing I would NOT suggest subscribing. I thought the Alexa page was cool. It gave me ideas on things to program in other AAC apps and examples of icons to use on those buttons.
- Leeloo AAC – Autism Speech App by DOYBLS, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/leeloo-aac-autism-speech-app/id1508952198, iOS Universal, iOS 9.0 or later, the basic app functions and content are FREE with IAP for subscription for more content and features. Unique interface and use of emoji style open source symbols. The colors used in the symbols are muted (what they describe as being “autism-friendly colors”). When you tap on a symbol another screen pops up with several emoji based phrases for that word pop up. You can search for words and phrases. The app includes a premade pack with Pandemic related vocabulary. Packs can be re-ordered on the home screen and deleted but I did not find a way to re-order buttons within a pack, a way to edit buttons, a way to edit phrases or a way to add your own decks, cards or phrases. It’s not clear from the app description whether or not a subscription adds these features or may just add extra pre-made symbol packs. There is a contact e-mail address on their website where you could ask before considering whether or not you want to subscribe. This new app was released in March 2021. More info: https://assistivecards.com/leeloo/. There is an Android version (see below).
- PAROL by Les Applications C, Inc, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/parol/id1472197509, iPad only, iOS 9.3 or later, FREE. Includes pre-made content and the ability to add your own. Has several additional features that are cool: an interactive pain scale (same content as the Doloris app that disappeared from the App Store several years ago), a visual timer, a visual sequence page, the ability to print a PDF of picture symbols, etc. Last update: August 2019. More info: http://parol-aac.com/en/parol/.
- PAROL Mini by Les Applications C, Inc, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/parol-mini/id1476818837, iOS Universal, iOS 11.0 or later, FREE. More info: http://parol-aac.com/en/parol-mini-en/. They also have a free app to make printed symbols using your own pictures and/or their symbol library: PictoMaker by Les Applications C, Inc, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/pictomaker/id1477449329, iOS Universal, iOS 10.0 or later, FREE. Last update: August 2019. More info: http://parol-aac.com/en/pictomaker-en/.
25. Added 2/3/22: Weave Chat AAC. https://apps.apple.com/us/app/weave-chat-aac/id1579129212 (iOS Universal, iOS 11.0 or later, FREE, last update: February 2022). This free app has some nice features including a Search, word endings and the ability to send messages with text and symbols (that only works with others who have this app installed, not over regular text messaging). It’s important to note that you have to provide quite a bit of personal info up front before you can even check out the app (year of birth, e-mail, mobile number, full name and set a password). Giving out that type of info can be risky. There is also an Android version. See more info on their website: https://www.weavechat.com.
Free & affordable iOS apps with one large button (like a BIGmack voice output communication aid – VOCA):
- iSpeak Button Collection by Goatella, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/ispeak-button-collection/id736740098, iOS Universal, iOS 9.0 or later, $5.99. A set of large round single buttons (one per page). Switch between buttons by swiping across the screen. Up to 15 buttons. The color of the button can be customized (twelve different color choices) and a picture or text can be added to the button. Last update: May 2017. More info: https://goatella.com/index.php/special-education/ispeak-button-collection. They also have a iSpeak Button single button app for $3.99 (can change the button color and add text, cannot add a picture) but for only $2.00 more this is the better bargain (up to 15 single buttons & the ability to add a picture or text to each button). It’s much more affordable and easier to use than any of the TapSpeak Button apps. This app developer also has an iSpeak Sequences app (can change the button color and add text, cannot add a picture) & a Touch Switch app, iOS Universal, iOS 6.0 or later, $4.99. I love using this app as an adapted way to activate music and videos. Last update: May 2017. More info: https://goatella.com/index.php/special-education/touch-switch)
- Smooth Talker AAC by Pretorian Technologies, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/smooth-talker-aac/id1032679182, iPad only, iOS 10.0 or later, usually $12.99 (*** This app has been free since 4/20/20 but have no way to know how much longer it will be free ****). Last update: December 2018. (*** Update 2/3/22: This app is missing from the App Store)
One or two buttons are shown on-screen and may be round or square. Buttons can be made to change color from one message to the next and each button can be replaced with a photo on a message by message basis (direct from the camera or from the gallery). You can also add text to any button or photo. Unfortunately you cannot add a photo to one of their round colored buttons or have text on a square button that is above the picture. My work around for this is to import a screenshot of one of the round buttons into my Wishboard app, add a symbol on top of it and then save it to my Camera Roll to use in this app. I have also imported a screenshot of a button from the GoTalk Now app where I have a picture with the text on top. Several mode options: Sequential, Random (with repeats), Random (no repeats), Choice, Conversation, Auditory Prompt. Switch capable via iOS Switch Control.
Instruction guide: http://www.pretorianuk.com/downloads/app_instructions/smoothtalker_app.pdf. Additional info on their website: https://www.pretorianuk.com/smooth-talker-app.
- PlayButton by Aardustry LLC, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/playbutton/id472870128, iOS Universal (iPhone & iPad), iOS 12.0 or later, FREE, single button (cannot add a picture to it so not a “symbol-based AAC app” but sharing since I used it so much). I love the huge green “play button”. The activation area is very large (almost the entire screen). Last update: June 2021. The option to toggle on “Record Lock” is found in the device Settings area. Scroll down to find this app. That allows a recorded sound to be locked & hides the record buttons. More info: http://www.aardustry.com/early-childhood-development/playbutton.html.
- Talking Button by Masanori Kubota, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/talking-button/id1267894987, iOS Universal, iOS 10.3 or later, FREE, set of three single button pages (blue, red, chartreuse) and the number in the same color in the top left corner (can edit the text below each button or toggle text off, cannot add a picture to the buttons so not a “symbol-based AAC app” but sharing since I used it quite a bit). Switch between buttons by swiping across the screen. Last update: August 2017.
- ChatterBoards AAC by Paul Popiel (see info above). This versatile app can be super simple. I love that you can program a board with 1 huge button that fills almost the entire screen and the whole area can be activated. To do this select 1 row & 1 column when programming a board. Lots of other features and you can backup/restore & share programming. Read the first section above for all the info.
Free & affordable iOS apps to make very simple choice boards:
- Make a Choice – AAC Buttons by pkclSoft, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/make-a-choice-aac-buttons/id1295966224, iOS Universal, iOS 9.3 or later, $4.99. A fabulous app for the price! Simple to program & use. I love the plain black background and numerous color options for buttons. A picture can be added to buttons. Voice can be recorded or use Text to Speech. Can backup / restore programming & share boards. Can print boards. The app developer does a good job keeping the app updated. Last update: November 2021. More info: http://www.pkclsoft.com/wp/ & https://edshelf.com/tool/make-a-choice-aac-buttons/.
- ChatterBoards AAC by Paul Popiel (see info above). This versatile app can be super simple. I love that you can program a board with 1 huge button that fills almost the entire screen and the whole area can be activated. I love that you can program a board with 1 huge button that fills almost the entire screen. Can also have 2 buttons (1 row, 2 columns or 2 rows, 1 column), 3 buttons (1 row, 3 columns or 3 rows, 1 column), 4 buttons (2 rows, 2 columns), etc. when programming a board. Lots of other features and you can backup/restore & share programming. Read the first section above for all the info.
- ChoiceBoard – Creator by Techno Chipmunk Innovations Inc
https://apps.apple.com/us/app/choiceboard-creator/id453988580, iOS Universal, iOS 9.0 or later, $1.99. The programming is a little quirky (be sure to tap the check mark that all the items are “correct” answers if you are using this for communication, be sure to tap on “remove audio” to remove other sound effects, toggle off randomization, be sure to tap “save” and “done” when editing) but I like that you can change the background color and love how the selected item is then enlarged to fill the entire screen. Can add a picture, video, music and recordings to buttons. I’ve also used this app to create receptive language activities and as an adapted means to play favorite music or videos. Those play from music and videos saved on that device. There is not a way to stop the music or video from continuing to play to the end without exiting the app. You can share boards via e-mail and back up to Google Drive. Last update: September 2018. More info: http://technochipmunk.com. (free lite version: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/choiceboardcreatorlite/id1172621557, worth looking at before buying but there is no way to backup programming and limits what you can create).
- Choice Boards by Lukasz Wroczynski, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/choice-boards/id1059544273, iPad only, iOS 9.3 or later, FREE. Pretty easy to program. There is no border around buttons. The page background is white. A board either has the option for 6 or 12 buttons but can leave some blank. No option to change color of board background or button color. No way to backup programming. This app is used with the iPad in “portrait” orientation instead of the more common “landscape” orientation. Last update: October 2017. More info: https://choiceboards.wordpress.com.
- SoundingBoard by AbleNet, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/soundingboard/id390532167, iOS Universal, iOS 12.0 or later, FREE with IAPs for additional content. Includes pre-made content and the ability to add your own. This is one of my least favorite AAC apps but am including it on this post since others seem to like it. It works on an iPhone so I occasionally use it on that. I don’t find this app intuitive to program and don’t care for the app interface. I don’t like how you keep adding buttons instead of being able to see and choose a grid layout and don’t have the option to use a larger grid and leave some buttons unused or hidden (like you can in the GoTalk Now Lite app). Can have from 1-20 buttons per page, can drag to reorder buttons, can edit & delete buttons (but no way to temporarily hide/disable buttons like you can in the GoTalk Now Lite app), can link pages, can backup and share boards, has three background color choices (black, yellow, white) and option for switch scanning use. I haven’t found a way to program the app to open to a home board. There are several unsecured links so be sure to toggle off the ability to make IAPs and use in Airplane Mode. The app also collects user data and there doesn’t appear to be a way to opt out. Last update: November 2021. More info: https://www.ablenetinc.com/soundingboard.
Simple Yes/No button apps with voice output (only one app has symbols & can be edited… the rest do not have symbols and cannot be edited):
- ChatterBoards AAC by Paul Popiel (see info above). Yes this versatile app is being mentioned in every section. It even has a pre-made board with two large Yes/No buttons (on left: green “yes” with check mark symbol & on right: red “no” with an X symbol). The fabulous thing is you can edit everything so if you want different symbols (or want to remove the symbols), want different button colors, want different button border colors, want a top/bottom orientation, want smaller buttons with blank space in between, want a specific high quality iOS voice (several male & female voices to choose from), etc… it’s all possible in this app. I just got this app today and am seriously LOVING how versatile it is. And you can share programming with other users (a huge plus for those trying to support a family member or patient remotely). Currently FREE. See the first section above for more info.
- YesNo – questions made simple by Owen McGirr, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/yesno-questions-made-simple/id1264635165, iOS Universal, iOS 9.0 or later, FREE. Last update: February 2020. Appears to use the iOS voice but I could figure out a way to get the app to speak with a male voice. Each rectangular area takes up ½ of the screen. Green “yes” on top / Red “no” on bottom.
- Yes or No Communication by Ross Atkin, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/yes-or-no-communication/id1269155698, iOS Universal, iOS 8.0 or later, FREE. Last update: August 2017. Appears to use the iOS voice but I could figure out a way to get the app to speak with a male voice. Each rectangular area takes up ½ of the screen. Green “yes” on top / Red “no” on bottom.
- Yes/No from I Can Do Apps by I CAN DO APPS, LLC, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/yes-no-from-i-can-do-apps/id635649909, iOS Universal, iOS 7.0 or later, FREE. Last update: September 2015. I don’t know how well it will work with newer versions of iOS. Female recorded voice. I like the wide gap between buttons.
- Yes / No Button Free by Lakeside Llama LLC, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/yes-no-button-free/id593299519, iOS Universal, iOS 8.0 or later, FREE. Last update: October 2016. Has ads but you can block them by putting the device into Airplane Mode before opening the app. I toggle on “simple sounds” & “green yes button” in the settings. The voice output is recorded and randomized among gender and occasionally includes a younger sounding (but not childlike) voice. I like the round buttons on a high contrast black background.
FYI for Android apps:
I’ve also seen several posts and comments from parents (or SLPs on behalf of parents) who don’t have an iPad but are asking what AAC apps they can try with their child at home on an Android tablet.
Here are a few Android AAC apps to look at in the Google Play App Store. I am recommending these based on my experience using the iOS version (since I don’t own any Android devices) and reading the reviews.
- Prices & availability were all checked in the USA Google Play App Store and/or Amazon App Store and website links were all working at the time this post was written (3:00pm CST on 7/13/20).
- Many app developers who have an app on both platforms advise folks to get the iOS version of their app since it has more features and/or is updated more frequently. So these apps may not have all of the features you would see in the iOS version.
- I am only including one app that showed up as having ads (based on the description in the Google Play App Store and/or Amazon App Store) and I was able to block those ads in the iOS version by using my iPad in Airplane Mode. It’s the only Yes/No app that also had an iOS version that I have.
- Look at the “Requires Android” section in the app description for each app to determine device compatibility. Some “free” apps are only free for a trial period and then would require an in-app purchase to be able to continue using the app.
- If you truly want a young child to learn that they can use an Android tablet to communicate, then they will need to only use that particular tablet for that purpose. Ideally any other games or videos should be on a separate device. You’ll need to use an app to lock the child into “kiosk mode” so they can only use the AAC app (like Guided Access on an iPad). This one is free and has good reviews: SecureME – Android Kiosk Launcher Lockdown Pro: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.unfoldlabs.secureme. I was not able to find anything similar on the Amazon App Store so I suggest researching this if you plan on using a Kindle Fire tablet for AAC. Adult and older teen AAC users may be better equipped to make choices to navigate in/out of an AAC app to use a tablet for other purposes…. but I have not found that to be true for young children. If given an unlocked tablet (or iPad) most would prefer to just watch videos or play with other apps. Locking them into the AAC app is intended to provide them the opportunity to learn the power of communication via AAC.
Free and Affordable Android AAC apps that I recommend based on having used the iOS version. See more info about in each of these in the iOS section above:
- Cboard: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.unicef.cboard, FREE app & FREE web-based AAC that can be used across platforms. See more details below. More info: https://www.cboard.io.
- SymboTalk – AAC Talker: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.elelad.comboard&hl=en_GB, the app is FREE but has an in-app subscription purchase for Cloud Services: Share, Sync & Backup. More info: https://www.symbotalk.com.
- LetMeTalk – Free AAC Talker: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=de.appnotize.letmetalk&hl=en_GB, the app is FREE but the description indicates there are in-app purchases (not sure what they are for). Also on the Amazon App Store: https://www.amazon.com/AppNotize-UG-haftungsbeschränkt-LetMeTalk-Talker/dp/B00I9JEEEM/. More info: http://www.letmetalk.info
(Update 2/3/22 – the Android version and website are both missing)
- Alexicom AAC for Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.me.alexicomaac&hl=en_GB, FREE. More info: https://www.alexicomaac.com/#free-app
- Tap Chat | AAC Speech Boards: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tapchat, FREE. More info: http://www.tap.chat. Update 2/3/22: The Android version of the app is missing
- MyTalkMobile: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.MTA.MyTalkMobile, the app is free but the description indicates there are in-app purchases (not sure what they are for); More info: http://www.mytalktools.com/dnn/2/Home.aspx. See detailed info above regarding what I like about the iOS version of this app. I have no way to know if there is a “messaging” component in the Android version of this app.
- Leeloo AAC – Autism Speech App for Nonverbal Kids: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.dreamoriented.leeloo, FREE with IAP for subscription for full content and all of the features. See more info above.
- CommBoards – AAC Speech Assistant: Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.shmoontz.commboards, $14.99. Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Shmoontz-Apps-CommBoards-Speech-Assistant/dp/B07H89GXRW, $14.99. See more info above.
9. Added 2/3/22 Weave Chat AAC, FREE, requires personal info to set up. See info above and link on their website
Affordable Android app with one large button (like a BIGmack voice output communication aid – VOCA) that I recommend based on having used the iOS version:
- iSpeak Button by Goattella, https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.goatella.ispeak, $3.99 (there is also an Android version of the Touch Switch app for adapted access to music & videos: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.goatella.touchswitch, $4.99). See more info above. (Update 2/3/22: Both of these Android versions are missing)
Free Android app to make very simple choice boards:
- Photo Communicator AAC Lite: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.portset.photocommunicatorlite&hl=en_GB, FREE (more info: http://www.talkingtablet.com/photo.htm ). This one isn’t available on the iPad so I have no idea how good it is but looked worth trying since it’s free.
Simple Yes/No button Android app with voice output (doesn’t have symbols & cannot be edited):
- Yes / No Button Free by Lakeside Llama LLC, https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.lakesidellama.yesnobutton, FREE. Has ads. See info in iOS section above. I have no idea whether or not there is something similar to “Airplane Mode” on Android devices that could be used to block the ads.
Free web-based AAC open source options (can be used online and some offer an offline option, may work across platforms):
- AsTeRICS Grid – open source web-based AAC: https://grid.asterics.eu/#welcome. Has the option to set up offline users. Uses voices available on that device or platform. On my iPad the iOS voices showed up as options. The editing is different from what I’m used to so there is a learning curve to get up to speed. Just beginning to explore this option.
- CBoard – open source web-based AAC: https://www.cboard.io. Cboard works on modern browsers and is available on a wide variety of platforms, including desktops, tablets and mobile phones. Offline support is available on Google Chrome (desktop & Android). There is an Android app (see above). Support for up to 33 languages (vary by operating system). Uses open source Mulberry Symbols. More info about features (vary by operating system): https://www.cboard.io/help/#Features & info about how to program and use it: https://www.cboard.io/help/. FYI…. you’ll want to do some editing if you are in the USA. Several of the items are named differently here (ex: biscuit -> cookie, ice lolly -> popsicle, chips -> fries, crisps -> chips, etc.). Voice output might only be available when online.
- OptiKey – open source Windows eye-tracking and communication tool: http://www.optikey.org, https://github.com/Optikey/Optikey/wiki. Optikey is an assistive on-screen keyboard which runs on Windows. It is designed to be used with a low cost eye-tracking device to bring keyboard control, mouse control and speech to people with motor and speech limitations, such as people living with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) / Motor Neuron Disease (MND). Includes support for the CommuniKate symbol communication boards. More info: https://github.com/Optikey/Optikey/wiki/Support-for-CommuniKate-boards & http://communikate.equalitytime.co.uk. CommuniKate is designed for people who rely heavily on the environment or context in order to communicate effectively but understand concepts and language used in conversation and during everyday activities.
4. Free Speech (added 7/5/21): http://app.freespeechaac.com (open source, currently only web-based. See this post for the story behind it: http://app.freespeechaac.com/about & https://www.bbc.com/news/av/disability-57515272). Website: http://freespeechaac.com
Affordable web-based AAC open source option (can be used in a web browser online and works in apps across multiple platforms – iOS, Android, Amazon Kindle, Windows):
- CoughDrop – open source cloud-based AAC: https://www.mycoughdrop.com. They offer a free 2-month trial. After that it’s either a monthly subscription (currently $6.00 per month). Info about other pricing options: https://www.mycoughdrop.com/pricing. They often offer a 50% off discount on the Lifetime Subscription fee in April (Autism Acceptance month) & October (AAC Awareness month). They frequently add new board options and do a good job of keeping the app updated. This is the only affordable AAC option that I’ve seen that can send the text and symbols together in a cohesive message via iMessaging and e-mail.
iOS app: CoughDrop by CoughDrop, Inc., https://apps.apple.com/us/app/coughdrop/id1021384570, Last update: January 2022
Android app: CoughDrop AAC, https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.mycoughdrop.coughdrop
Amazon Kindle app: CoughDrop AAC, https://www.amazon.com/CoughDrop-Inc-AAC/dp/B01BU8RUEY/
Windows: You can install CoughDrop as a Windows desktop app on your computer or Windows device. CoughDrop on Windows has some eye-tracking integrations that will help it work better with more devices. Please make sure to download the right version for your operating system. https://www.mycoughdrop.com/download
Web Browser: CoughDrop is a web-first application, and should work with many modern web browsers.
See this for more open source cloud and web-based AAC – not all of the ones listed on the website are free: https://www.openaac.org/aac.html. More about the Open AAC movement: https://www.openaac.org/participate.html
Other higher priced AAC options that can send both symbols & text as a cohesive message: Avaz (in iMessaging and e-mail) and the Clicker Communicator apps (as a PDF either by AirDrop or e-mail. MyTalkTools is the only AAC app that I’ve seen that actually has an iMessaging app component where the app works within iMessaging… but each symbol is messaged separately.)
Sources for symbols and photos to customize AAC apps:
- https://lessonpix.com/tryItNow (very affordable at $3.00 per month)
- take your own photos
- search for pictures online
- take screenshots of symbols in free printable manual communication boards or from other AAC apps
- if you are artistic you could even draw your own symbols and import them
Want to suggest a free or affordable symbol-based iOS 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 $14.99 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. I’ll also consider adding an Android AAC app if it has an iOS version available that I can try out.
There are several more expensive symbol-based 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. Or at least find a way to try out apps to see if they may work for that individual before purchasing.
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/.
Looking for free and affordable Text to Speech AAC apps? Check out this post: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2020/06/11/top-10-free-and-affordable-ios-text-to-speech-aac-apps-list-compiled-by-angela-moorad-ms-ccc-slp-omazing-kids/
Looking for free & affordable big text apps that may be helpful when trying to communicate while wearing a mask? Check out this post: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2020/06/20/10-free-affordable-big-text-apps-list-complied-by-angela-moorad-ms-ccc-slp-omazing-kids/
A hybrid combo of symbols and text to speech app for use in the ICU: Communicare ICU by Communicare OU, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/communicare-icu/id1506614986, iPad only, iOS 9.0 or later, FREE. More info: https://communicare.life.
See this post for more AAC apps for communicating about pain & medical situations: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2016/06/11/aac-tips-how-slps-can-get-free-access-to-aac-apps-aac-app-user-groups-funding-options-more/
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.
It took me quite a bit of time to compile this list so please 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 foreseeable future.
Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP, Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC
AppPeeps Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OMazingKidsAppPeeps/
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