Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP. Over 30 years experience in AAC. OMazing Kids AAC and app consulting. Creator of 5 AAC Feature Matching resources (https://bit.ly/5aacFeatureMatchingResources). Includes info about unique features to support Gestalt Language Processors
Updated resource: Basic Feature Chart for Affordable and Free AAC apps & AAC-Related Apps (iOS, Android Google Play, Amazon Fire, Windows + a few Web-Based options). Now also includes info about apps available for Chromebook.
Decisions about when and how to secure devices need to be made based on individual needs, age of the user, how long they have been using AAC, etc… The needs of a young child first learning how to use AAC are very different from the needs of an older teen or adult who uses tech to multitask.
I would never hand a young child a totally unlocked / unsecured iPad, tablet, smartphone, laptop or any other tech that then could access all of the internet. There are several reasons why that could be very risky.
You also need to consider financial risks. Several years ago I had a patient who had run up over $1,000 in credit card charges making app purchases and in-app purchases on the parent’s unsecured iPad. Fortunately they were eventually able to get it refunded but that’s not always the case.
There are ways to choose how secure a device needs to be by using a combo of options. It doesn’t have to be “all or nothing”.
And there are a few important settings to adjust in order to prevent the AAC app (or any other apps) from being deleted. This is also where you need to toggle off the ability to download apps and the ability to make in-app purchases. Be sure to set a strong password.
Use Screen Time alongside Guided Access to provide even more control.
If you have a Samsung Android tablet, also look at Samsung Kids as a way to create a secured area where you can add any combination of apps:
Can use the included My Camera to take pictures and videos and then view them within My Gallery. The included Bobby’s Canvas app has a fun drawing area. Exiting Samsung Kids is secured with a PIN. More info: https://www.samsung.com/us/apps/samsung-kids/
The YouTube Kids app (https://bit.ly/3O0FpIT) or the Video Collections app (https://bit.ly/3zEuW1k or on Samsung Galaxy Store: https://bit.ly/3zGG7q7 ) can be used as a way to save links to specific YouTube videos or channels. Adding one of these apps within the secured Samsung Kids area would allow Gestalt Language Processors to access videos as part of their communication system in a secured way.
Windows: Set up a single-app kiosk on Windows 10/11: https://bit.ly/3Ocxdo3 (applicable for Windows 10 Pro, Enterprise, and Education & Windows 11. Unfortunately you can not set Kiosk mode for Windows 10 Home edition (the operating system on my AWOW AiBook 10 Windows tablet / mini laptop: https://bit.ly/3IJRBf8).
It has been a pleasant surprise to discover how many of my Android AAC and AAC-related apps can be installed via the Google Play App Store and used on my Pixelbook Go Chromebook.
Of course a Chromebook is not my top pick for an AAC device but I get pretty frequent questions about AAC options for it.
Here are some AAC apps that you *might* be able to use on a Chromebook while working towards getting that student a more portable & durable AAC device. The most robust apps are denoted in bold with an (*)
Note: These all work on my Pixelbook Go. These apps may or may not be an option for your model of Chromebook. The Google Play App Store shows compatibility info. It seems to vary quite a bit depending on the type and brand of device.
• Acapela TTS (this is where you can purchase high quality Acapela synthesized voices. It was cool that the voices that I had already purchased were also available for use on my Chromebook without having to repurchase them. They worked within several AAC apps. I wish Apple offered this type of option for purchasing voices.)
• AAC Keyboard with Friends
• All the FeelZzz
• AsTeRICS Grid
• Avaz (*)
• Card Talk
• CoreVoice (*)
• CoughDrop (*)
• Deaf Note
• Emergency Chat
• I Can Communicate!
• Kids Story Builder
• Niki Talk
• Passy-Muir Trach Tools
• Patient Communicator
• Search on ARASAAC
• Speak It
• Speech Assistant AAC (*)
• Talking Button
• Twinkl Symbols
• Weave Chat
• Yes / No Button
• YesNo AAC
Most of these are affordable or free apps. Info about them and links can be found in the Basic Feature Chart for Affordable and Free AAC apps & AAC-Related Apps (iOS, Android Google Play, Amazon Fire, Windows + a few Web-Based options): https://bit.ly/BasicAffordableAACchart.
In depth info about the Android versions of Avaz, CoreVoice, CoughDrop and Speech Assistant AAC can be found in the Feature Matching Chart for Robust Android AAC Apps (Android Google Play & Amazon Fire):https://bit.ly/RobustAndroidAACappChart.