Are you a parent or caregiver who wants to try out AAC options for your child? I highly recommend that you pursue an AAC eval (including feature matching and trial of options) with an SLP who has expertise in this area.
This is not meant to put up a roadblock or to “gate keep”. I like to compare it to decisions made regarding wheelchairs. Could you just go pick one out and buy it? If you had the money, sure. But it may not be the best “fit” for that person.
But don’t feel that you HAVE TO wait.
Unfortunately it’s still common to see comments from parents and caregivers who have been told “no”, “only after we try _____”, or “only after they demonstrate ________ skills”, etc.
Another reality is not every parent or caregiver will have access to this type of evaluation. This may be even more challenging in the midst of the pandemic despite the best efforts of SLPs to provide these services remotely.
It may just be a little trickier to determine what the best AAC option will be for your child since many parents don’t have unlimited resources to buy several AAC apps to try.
If your child is a Gestalt Language Processor, be sure to also read the section specifically related to Gestalt Language Processing & AAC at the end of this post.
Affordable AAC: Amazon Fire vs. Android vs. iPad: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2022/08/13/affordable-aac-amazon-fire-vs-android-vs-ipad
Affordable Pocket-Sized Android AAC: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2022/09/20/affordable-pocket-sized-android-aac/
Navigating Through AAC App Options: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2022/08/19/new-resource-navigating-through-aac-app-options-recorded-webinar-interactive-handout/
A series of three videos comparing AAC options across four platforms: Apple iOS, Android Google Play, Amazon Fire & Windows:
* Comparison of voice loudness and quality for AAC: iPad, Samsung Android, Amazon Fire & Windows (4:20):
* Considerations for AAC on Different Platforms: iPad, Android, Amazon Fire & Windows (6:17):
* A look at AAC options across platforms: Windows, Amazon Fire, Android Google Play, Apple (12:55):
Affordable and Free AAC apps & AAC-Related Apps (iOS, Android Google Play, Amazon Fire, Windows + a few Web-Based options)
This resource was inspired by the frequent requests that I receive for info about less expensive options and for info about apps for devices beyond just the iPad. Everything featured in this chart is priced under $10: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Basic-Feature-Chart-for-Affordable-and-Free-AAC-apps-AAC-Related-Apps-8327157
Important to note:
I am not implying that a free or inexpensive app is always the ideal way to meet most communication needs. But these can be helpful to use until an AAC eval can be completed, a more robust option can be purchased, to meet a short term need or as a secondary tool to offer features that might not be available in their main AAC app, etc.
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
Here are some resources that can help you make informed AAC purchasing decisions prior to purchasing more expensive AAC apps:
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. Find the AT Lending Library in your state: https://www.at3center.net/stateprogram
Even if your state’s program isn’t loaning out equipment due to the pandemic they might have the option to do a short term loan of the software/app.
The AT Program in your state may also know of SLPs who do AAC evals and funding resources (including grants) specific to your area.
You can search for AT Reuse programs: http://www.passitoncenter.org/reuse_locations.php
You can learn about AAC apps by joining the various AAC user groups on Facebook and watching free webinars on the company’s website or YouTube channel.
- Avaz: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1404976513132058/?ref=ts&fref=ts
- CoughDrop: https://www.facebook.com/groups/CoughDropUsers/
- Clicker Communicator: https://www.facebook.com/groups/Clicker.Communicator/?fref=ts
- GoTalk Now – informal networking via the “GoTalk Now AAC App – Ideas and Sharing” group that I started on 9/29/21: https://bit.ly/GoTalkNowAACappGroup
- Grid for iPad / Grid 3 (Smartbox Community): https://www.facebook.com/groups/smartboxcommunity/
- LAMP Words For Life: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1541091616125345/?ref=ts&fref=ts (if you use an Accent SGD, also check out this group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/491906254326527/)
- Proloquo2Go for Parents: https://www.facebook.com/groups/241684205905600/?ref=ts&fref=ts
- Proloquo & Proloquo Coach (subscription-based app duo): https://www.facebook.com/groups/381836780082796/?ref=share
- simPODD: https://www.facebook.com/groups/AssistiveWaresimPODD/
- Speak for Yourself: https://www.facebook.com/groups/273873326092019/?ref=ts&fref=ts
- Talk Suite Pro: https://www.facebook.com/groups/talksuite
- Tobii Dynavox: https://www.facebook.com/groups/tobiidynavoxcommunity/?fref=ts
- TouchChat: https://www.facebook.com/groups/touchchatapp/?ref=ts&fref=ts (NovaChat & ChatFusion users: https://www.facebook.com/groups/novachat)
And there are several parents that share info about their child using AAC:
Get connected with other parents or caregivers who are using AAC. There is a growing community of very empowered parents on Instagram and Facebook:
Here are links to a few:
Lilly’s Voice: https://instagram.com/lillysvoice?igshid=OWIwZGQxYWY=
See even more of her posts on: https://instagram.com/afriendforlillybug?igshid=OWIwZGQxYWY=
Craftin with Grafton (a grandmother supporting AAC use for her grandson): https://instagram.com/craftin_with_grafton?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y=
Graciella Blooms: https://instagram.com/graciellablooms?igshid=OWIwZGQxYWY=
Stims and Stones: https://instagram.com/stims.and.stones?igshid=OWIwZGQxYWY=
Hold My Words:
A Star in Her Eye
Uncommon Sense Blog:
A great recorded webinar that Dana did “Getting Started with Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) for Your Child”: https://www.ctdinstitute.org/library/2015-12-15/getting-started-alternative-and-augmentative-communication-aac-your-child
We Speak PODD:
You can see the pricing history for any iOS app on the App Sliced website (gives you an idea of the pattern of when it goes on sale): https://appsliced.co. Many AAC apps tend to go on sale in the USA in April (Autism Awareness / Acceptance Month) and in October (AAC Awareness Month).
I have several free resources available on Teachers Pay Teachers:
- Comparison of Proloquo2Go & Proloquo + Proloquo Coach AAC Apps: https://bit.ly/3uOlm86
- Let’s Talk About GoTalk … so many different AAC options: https://bit.ly/3xlxA9o
- Resource Roundup: AAC in Early Intervention: https://bit.ly/EarlyAACuse
- Resource Roundup: Gestalt Language Processing & AAC: https://bit.ly/GLPandAAC
- Resource Roundup: PODD: https://bit.ly/PODDresources
- Tech Tips: AAC & “Screen Time”: https://bit.ly/3LUIlFB
- Tech Tips: Installing iOS Apps on Multiple Devices: https://bit.ly/39BIzmN
- Tech Tips: Troubleshooting iPad Sound Problems: https://bit.ly/37npSCN
I also offer several very affordable AAC resources on Teachers Pay Teachers: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Omazing-Kids-Aac-Consulting/Order:Price-Asc
- AAC – a quick introduction (+ case studies & resources) – Webinar and Handouts: https://bit.ly/3Dq8pDJ
- GoTalk Now: a visual guide to getting started (+ more): https://bit.ly/3GXx59C
- Grid for iPad: a visual guide to getting started: https://bit.ly/3npoTah
- LAMP Words for Life App: a visual guide to getting started: https://bit.ly/LAMPWFLvisualguide
- Proloquo2Go: a visual guide to getting started: https://bit.ly/3IrOVT2
- TD Snap: a visual guide to getting started: https://bit.ly/3qRuXdQ
- TouchChat with WordPower: a visual guide to getting started: https://bit.ly/3NTFMnt
Gestalt Language Processing & AAC
I’ve received lots of messages from parents asking what the “best” AAC app is for Gestalt Language Processors. I wish there was a simple answer for this but there isn’t.
Of the thousands of AAC users that I’ve worked with each one had unique needs. For some it was the language(s) that app needed to support, the method of access (tapping to select, drag and release to select, switch scanning, head tracking, eye gaze, etc.), how many navigational hits it took to get to a word, the sensory aspects (type and color of symbols, voice options), etc… This was in addition to unique features that might be helpful for GLPs.
That’s why it’s important to consider the bigger picture of all of their needs and hopefully try a few AAC options before making a purchasing decision.
If you are a parent and don’t have access to an SLP to help you navigate the AAC app options, feel free to message me on my OMazing Kids AAC Consulting Facebook page. I’m glad to answer basic questions about AAC apps and share links to unlisted YouTube videos related to those apps.
Why are those videos unlisted? Those particular videos were created as part of my in-depth feature matching resources that are primarily designed for SLPs and other professionals. Of course anyone can purchase them but they might be way too much info and overwhelming for those just getting started with AAC. I don’t want parents to feel like they have to purchase that type of resource just to see the videos.
So parents please message me if you’d like to see a video about a particular AAC app. I answer quickly on my Facebook page.
I’m not currently offering in-depth virtual AAC consultation or coaching but may consider doing that at some point in the future.
Have questions? Feel free to send me a private message on my OMazing Kids AAC Consulting Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsAAC/).
I have over 30 years of experience in AAC, have used almost every iOS AAC app in the USA iTunes (Apple) App Store, Android AAC apps, Amazon Fire AAC apps, Windows AAC apps + lots of AAC-related apps. I am always glad to share what I know about the features in these apps and refer you on to where you can get good / accurate additional info.
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
OMazing Kids AAC Consulting Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsAAC/
AppPeeps Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OMazingKidsAppPeeps/
GoTalk Now AAC & GoVisual Visual Scene Apps – Ideas and Sharing Facebook Group: https://bit.ly/GoTalkNowAACappGroup