Important info about the Blue2 and Hook+ switch interfaces

The Hook+ switch interface has been discontinued…

Sharing for those who might have been in the process of recommending a Hook+ switch interface. I reached out to AbleNet Inc. on Facebook Messenger to ask if an updated version is in the works since the current model was discontinued and received the following reply: Unfortunately we do not have a new version of Hook+. We developed Hook+ under the MFI guidelines of Apple. MFI allowed us to do cool things like not need a battery, have it auto-configure Switch Control the first time Hook+ was used with a device, and use the Lightning connector. However, being part of MFI also had its downside. We were at the mercy of Apple for approval and these approval cycles typically took about 12-months to complete. What we found is that every 2- to 3-years, Apple would update a component that we were using, which forced us to go through an approval cycle with Apple as well as go through all of our global regulatory tests again. These redevelopment cycles became a burden on the product and we had to make a hard decision and sunset Hook+ about 6-months ago.

It does look like Apple is slowly moving to supporting USB C across all of their iPads and iPhones. This may open up the opportunity for a product like Hitch to receive an update in the future so that it uses USB C and could potentially be used with iPad and iPhone. Updates to Hitch is not a project that we’ve started, but one that has been on my mind for a while as more and more devices move to USB C.


Some users are having connectivity issues with the Blue2 Bluetooth Switch Interface

Sharing for those who are exploring using the Blue2 switch interface. I heard from two members in the GoTalk Now AAC & GoVisual Scene Apps – Ideas and Sharing Facebook group today that they are having connectivity reliability issues with it. I haven’t had any issues with my Blue2 but reached out to AbleNet Inc. to find out more info. Here is a screenshot of the reply that I received.


For those using a screen reader here is the text contained in the screenshots above:

Tuesday, 6/28/22, 6:59am CDT

Angela:

Hi – I’m an AAC SLP and have frequently recommended your Blue2 switch interface as a good option for those needing switch scanning access in the GoTalk Now AAC app. But a member in my GoTalk Now AAC & GoVisual Visual Scene Apps – Ideas and Sharing Facebook Group: https://bit.ly/GoTalkNowAACappGroup just shared the following info: “OMazing Kids the Blue2 is having major connectivity challenges and I would not recommend it at this time. I’ve had to replace 4 this past year (all covered under warranty). They each stopped connecting. Hopefully AbleNet figures out the issue soon but I wouldn’t want anyone who needs it for communication stuck in this situation.” What is the status of this issue being resolved?

Also, I noticed that the Hook+ is no longer available and I had been recommending it as a good option for AAC apps that don’t have their own built in switch scanning settings. Is a new version of that in the works?

Thanks!
Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP, OMazing Kids AAC Consulting

Ablenet (9:54am CDT):

Hello Angela, thank you for reaching out. We have thousands of users globally who are successfully using Blue2 every day. There are a small number of users who have experienced a bug where Blue2 stops pairing with their device. This bug only impacts a small number of users who are using the latest release of Blue2 (the version that includes left and right mouse clicks). We have a plan in place to immediately ship those affected a new Blue2 as soon as we learn they are experiencing the bug.

We have been actively pursuing a solution to the bug. However, the one challenge we have run into is that we have been unable to replicate the bug in a controlled setting to help understand what the root cause of the bug is.

Angela:

Interesting. Do you think it’s a hardware issue within the Blue2 itself or a software issue related to that particular AAC app or maybe the version of iOS on that device?

Ablenet:

We’ve gone down a lot of different paths trying to figure it out, but it has occurred on different operating systems and different devices. What we do know is that as soon as we re-install the firmware the bug goes away. Users have then gone weeks and months before experiencing it again.

Angela:

Gotcha. How odd. I have a Blue2 and haven’t had any issues but I’ve had it for a couple of years. When was the latest version of the Blue2 released?

Ablenet:

I believe we started shipping the latest 4th Generation Blue2 around November 7, 2019

Angela:

Interesting. I just checked. That’s the one that I have. Thankfully I haven’t had any issues with mine. If someone encounters this issue what is the best way for them to report the issue and get a new one shipped to them?

Ablenet:

One of our guiding principles is new products, better products and recently we kicked off a development project that focuses on a new model of Blue2 that will be released mid-next year. We are revisiting this product and the model will receive a complete redesign.

Angela:

Cool! I’d be glad to help do product testing when you get to that point


I have already tried the AeroSwitch by PRC-Saltillo. They sent me one to try for a month. It’s the only option for using the in-app switch scanning settings in that company’s AAC apps. Info about my experiences with that switch interface can be found in my Feature Matching resources. A brief video: https://youtu.be/hyJj4_pcIy0. Additional videos are included in the Feature Matching resources.


This evening I messaged Inclusive Technology to see if I can borrow an iSwitch + Smoothie Switch & the Cosmos Switch in order to try them out in all of the AAC apps. I’ll keep you posted. Since the Blue2 that I have isn’t having any issues I really can’t justify investing in purchasing other switch interfaces right now.


I’d love to hear what wired and wireless Bluetooth switch interfaces others are using and whether they are reliable and durable. Feel free to message me via Facebook messaging over on my OMazing Kids page: https://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsAAC/


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

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Updated AAC Feature Matching Charts & Bluetooth Switch Interface Compatibility (AeroSwitch and Blue2)

I’ve been getting quite a few requests for info about which Bluetooth switch interfaces will work for specific AAC apps.

So I borrowed an AeroSwitch from PRC-Saltillo and then did trials with it and my Blue2 (AbleNet).


This video has general info:


More in-depth info about exact settings that I used and the steps involved can be found in the most recent updates for the Feature Matching Charts on 3/21/22. If you purchased them on TPT be sure to download the new PDFs for the latest info. Ko-fi subscribers can find the links on today’s post.

• Symbol-Based: https://bit.ly/SymbolBasedAACapps. More info: https://bit.ly/SymbolBasedAACblogpost

• Text-Based: https://bit.ly/TextBasedAACapps. More info: https://bit.ly/TextBasedAACblogpost

There is also a chart for Visual Scene Display apps.

Want to compare features in all kinds of AAC Apps? All three charts are available individually or in a bundle for a reduced price: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2022/02/28/three-feature-matching-resources-for-aac-apps-comparing-features-in-aac-apps/


There are now three rows dedicated to info about switch access (one row about which apps offer their own in-app settings to support switch scanning access vs. those that rely solely on iOS Accessibility to do this), one row for which apps the AeroSwitch worked for (including the very specific settings needed to accomplish that), and one row for which apps can be used with the Blue2.

For the symbol-based apps, there are four more specific videos that are “unlisted” and can only be viewed by those who have the link provided in the Feature Matching Chart. Those have more specific info and show the AeroSwitch being used in the LAMP Words for Life app on an iPad, being used on the TouchChat with WordPower app on an iPad, and one about the Blue2 and which apps it will and will not work in. For the text-based apps, there is one “unlisted” video about using the AeroSwitch with the Dialogue AAC app.

The symbol-based app chart has also been updated to include some basic info about the features new Proloquo + Proloquo Coach subscription-based apps as compared to Proloquo2Go. One isn’t “better” than the other. Like any AAC the best fit will depend on the specific needs of that AAC user and those supporting them.


Have questions? The best way to reach me with any questions is via messaging on the OMazing Kids Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsAAC/. That way AAC related messages don’t get lost among the spam in my e-mail.


Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP, Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC, OMazing Kids AAC Consulting

Boardmaker v6 on a Windows Tablet with External CD Drive (plus info about using a Bluetooth mouse to model on an AAC app on an iPad)

You may be an AAC SLP if the top three deciding factors on replacing a glitchy aging laptop are “Can it run Boardmaker v6, Grid 3 and TD Snap for Windows?” 🤓


Since I couldn’t get any confirmation that these could work as expected on Windows 11, I ended up getting a Windows 10 tablet and an external CD drive. Once Boardmaker is open, the CD drive can be removed. I have Boardmaker v6, Grid 3, TD Snap, CoughDrop, Cboard, etc. all set up and they are working well.


I did quite a bit of research and comparison of features and costs. I read lots of reviews. I wanted something small and affordable. I rarely use a laptop these days since I can do almost everything on my iPad or iPhone so this will suite my needs. This particular one had really good reviews on Amazon. It has a 10.1” screen, a built-in stand, comes with a keyboard cover that’s similar to an Apple Smart Keyboard and a stylus, and has Windows 10:


(Be sure to decline upgrading to Windows 11 during setup)


I found the perfect vintage Vera Bradley carrying bag to fit it. A Tablet Hipster in Olivia Pink from 2013. I bought it in excellent condition for a bargain on Poshmark.



  • I already had a Dell Bluetooth travel mouse that doesn’t require a USB receiver. This is the same mouse that I use to model on AAC apps on an iPad. If you search on Amazon for a Bluetooth Mouse that can work on an iPad they should also work for this since those don’t require a USB receiver.

If an iPad is on iOS 13.4 or later, you can use a Bluetooth mouse or trackpad to model. It’s a way to model AAC or demo any apps without having to touch the iPad screen. Here’s a video:

How to set up the Accessibility settings for Pointer Control: https://support.apple.com/en-bh/HT211008. Tip: You need to have your Bluetooth mouse or trackpad paired with that iPad in order for Pointer Control to show up as an option in the Accessibility settings.

I have also used this cool Bluetooth remote control that has a tiny trackpad for modeling and demos of apps: TNP Bluetooth Remote Control for iPad iPhone – Trackpad Media Presenter for iOS Mac Android Tablet PC – Wireless Camera Shutter, Media Button, Presentation Clicker, iPad Air Pro, MacBook Pro Mini M1, https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B098NBYR6P/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_i_ABY4J6PTJQ52EM8XBF8Q?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1

This worked in every AAC app and other apps that I’ve tried so far 😊


This is just one of many tools that I use to create things with symbols. I use LessonPix – Custom Learning Materials (which is fabulous but can’t be used to create or print PODD books), iESLp App, Twinkl Symbols app, Global Symbols website, AbleNet Inc.’s SymbolOverlay app, Tools2Talk + app, Niki Talk’s Search on ARASAAC app, the PictoMaker app, ProxTalker Pro app, etc…

I don’t have any plans to subscribe to Boardmaker 7. Everything that I see indicates that it’s still a hot mess and there’s no reason for me to pay for a subscription since I have a way to use Boardmaker v6 and have lots of other ways to create things with symbols.


Note: I would not recommend this Windows tablet for use as an AAC device since there isn’t a protective case available and the speakers aren’t the greatest. I probably wouldn’t recommend any Windows tablet for that purpose unless it’s one built for rugged use. I’m just using Grid 3, TD Snap, CoughDrop and Cboard on it to try out features compared to what’s available on those on an iPad. I also wouldn’t recommend this Windows tablet for writing reports or completing paperwork. The screen and keyboard are pretty small for those labor intensive types of things.


Disclaimers:

  • I have no way to know how long this particular Windows tablet will ship with Windows 10 installed vs. the Windows 11 operating system. It’s always wise to look closely at specs and reviews when purchasing any tech.
  • I also have no way to know if Boardmaker v6 will work on Windows 11 or not but it sounded pretty iffy.
  • I am not liable for any purchasing decisions that others make. Just sharing what works for me

Have questions? The best way to reach me with any questions is via messaging on the OMazing Kids Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsAAC/. That way AAC related messages don’t get lost among the spam in my e-mail.


Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP, Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC, OMazing Kids AAC Consulting

RadSounds – Cause and Effect App (direct touch and switch accessible)

The RadSounds – Cause and Effect app has a Momentary SwitchPlay option that can be used to only play the music while the screen is being touched or switch is being pressed.

It also has a Timed option to allow music to play without having to hold down the switch or touch the screen the whole time.

Surprisingly the app works on the latest iOS (iPadOS 15.3.1) even though it’s been quite awhile since the app has been updated.


Demo video:


The iPad-only app is very affordable (has been priced at $1.99 in the USA App Store since 9/15/17): https://apps.apple.com/us/app/radsounds-cause-effect/id420977569.


Have questions? The best way to reach me with any questions is via messaging on the OMazing Kids Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsAAC/. That way AAC related messages don’t get lost among the spam in my e-mail.


Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP, Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC, OMazing Kids AAC Consulting

How to Video: Creating a Visual Scene page in GoTalk Now

How to Video: Creating a Visual Scene page in GoTalk Now, https://youtu.be/hGPMNVLJo0c


Want more info about ways to use Visual Scene Displays or Video Visual Scene Displays? This recorded webinar from ISAAC has several case studies / examples: https://isaac-online.org/english/webinars/archived-webinars/bridging-research-to-practice-with-visual-scene-displays/


Join the GoTalk Now AAC App – Ideas and Sharing Facebook group: https://bit.ly/GoTalkNowAACappGroup

(I’m not affiliated with the app developer… just sharing tips on how to use this fabulous app 😊)


Have a question? The best way to reach me is via Facebook messaging over on my OMazing Kids page: https://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsAAC/


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

YouTube: https://youtube.com/user/amoorad1

Ko-Fi: https://ko-fi.com/omazingkidsaac

OMazing Kids AAC Consulting Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsAAC/

AppPeeps Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OMazingKidsAppPeeps/

GoTalk Now AAC App – Ideas and Sharing Facebook Group: https://bit.ly/GoTalkNowAACappGroup

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/omazingkidsaac

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/amoorad

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/OMazingKids/

Linktree: https://linktr.ee/amoorad1

Using the GoTalk Now App as Adapted Access to Play Songs

One of my favorite uses for the GoTalk Now app by Attainment Company, Inc. is to create boards to use as an adapted means of access to play music.

This video shows how to create a music player board (play/pause, next song, previous song), how to create a song board with buttons to play specific songs, and using the Expanded Quick Buttons as a means to comment or request and as a means to go between the two boards (instead of swiping or using paging buttons)


Join the GoTalk Now AAC App – Ideas and Sharing Facebook group: https://bit.ly/GoTalkNowAACappGroup


Want the link to find the app and info about the $10 sale on 10/10/21? See this blog post: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2021/10/08/reminder-gotalk-now-10-app-sale-on-10-10-21/

(I’m not affiliated with the app developer… just a huge fan of this app 😊)


Have a question? The best way to reach me is via Facebook messaging over on my OMazing Kids page: https://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsAAC/


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

YouTube: https://youtube.com/user/amoorad1

Ko-Fi: https://ko-fi.com/omazingkidsaac

OMazing Kids AAC Consulting Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsAAC/

AppPeeps Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OMazingKidsAppPeeps/

GoTalk Now AAC App – Ideas and Sharing Facebook Group: https://bit.ly/GoTalkNowAACappGroup

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/omazingkidsaac

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/amoorad

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/OMazingKids/

Linktree: https://linktr.ee/amoorad1

Fundable iOS-Based AAC Devices

Wanting to get a bundled iPad with a robust AAC app in a durable case funded as a “dedicated” SGD (speech generating device) / DME (durable medical equipment) through Medicaid or insurance?

There are several companies that offer locked/managed/dedicated iOS based devices with a variety of iOS AAC apps as an option. You’ll need to contact each company’s funding department to find out if they are in-network for the funding sources that you are considering. This varies state-by-state:

Logan Tech: Might be an option depending on your state & funding source: https://logantech.com/pages/funding-2019


Several companies that sell traditional SGDs also offer iOS-based devices:

PRC:

Saltillo:

Those outside of the USA can check with these branches of the PRC company:

Smartbox:

Tobii Dynavox:


See this post for info about how to find your local vendor rep: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2021/02/14/how-to-find-info-about-aac-at-companies-and-local-vendor-reps/


If a particular company has a waiting list to borrow a loaner device to trial then you may want to also check with the AT Lending Program in your state.

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.


Another “bundled” option is the Talk Tablet. Based on my experience, that app is not very intuitive to program or to use but I am sharing the info here in case anyone is looking for a less expensive alternative in situations where a funding source isn’t available. Their website is geared towards private pay but be sure to compare the cost of what they offer vs. just putting together your own by buying an iPad, AAC app & case: https://gusinc.com. The iOS version of the app: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/talktablet-pro-autism-aphasia/id1436382584 (+ extra cost of adding a high quality voice via in-app purchase)



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

{Note: This video is a couple of years old so be sure to check with Oklahoma AbleTech about the current process and requirements}

Oklahoma Able Tech: https://www.ok.gov/abletech/# & great info here: https://www.okabletech.org/at-discovery/speech-communication/

Device Loan Program: https://www.okabletech.org/guide-to-all-services/device-loan-program/

SoonerStart Early Intervention Collaboration: https://www.okabletech.org/community/soonerstart-collaboration/

PreK-12: https://www.okabletech.org/education-services/at-services-for-pk-12/

Another source that I’ve had good success with for funding an iPad with a robust AAC app in a durable case here in Oklahoma is the New Voices grant through Ability Connections Oklahoma: https://www.acok.org  (the funding comes and goes on this grant. See their Facebook page for updates: https://www.facebook.com/abilityconnectionoklahoma/).

If you are in Oklahoma, also check out the AAC Funding Guide: https://www.okabletech.org/resources/at-funding-guide/ (those outside of Oklahoma should ask the AT Lending Program in your state if they have a similar resource)

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

  • It is best practice to do an AAC eval, feature matching & trial of options. It is important to try out any device and app with the potential user before making a purchasing recommendation or decision. This is also important when using any extra hardware (keyguards, switches, switch interfaces, carrying straps, stands, mounts, etc…) to support AAC use. Many funding sources require documentation regarding a certain number of options being considered and trialed. It is wise to get as much information as you can before you start the process.

 

  • The funding department for the company selling the devices should provide info regarding what’s needed. Read through the definition of “medical necessity” and all the required elements for purchase of a speech generating device (SGD) as durable medical equipment (DME) for that insurance company and/or Medicaid in your state. This will give you both verbiage to include in your report and a checklist of all the bases you need to cover.

 

  • Once you start the funding process you have to be willing to do what it takes under very short timeframes when they request additional video or ask for an addendum for additional information. If you don’t meet their very short timeframes then the request may automatically be denied and you may have to start all over. If you get a denial, find out why and submit an appeal.

 

  • There are many reasons why one would consider a traditional SGD vs. an iPad or any other tablet with an app: durability, warranty, tech support, built-in switch ports for scanning, eye gaze access, etc… (see more info at: https://bit.ly/3sUNINw)
  • But there are many folks who may not have a funding source for a traditional SGD. And there are things about having AAC on an iPad or iPhone that make it a great option for particular users.

 

  • There are situations where you may need to consider an Android tablet instead of an iPad. I recently received info about that platform having many more voice options compared to the iOS voices or voices within AAC apps on an iPad. In some instances an Android tablet may be the only option for voice output in a particular language. An example of this is Vietnamese. Which explains why the Vietnamese version of Avaz & Talk Tablet are only offered on that platform. CoughDrop can be translated into that language but only has access to a Vietnamese voice on the Android platform. See info about Android AAC apps on this post: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2020/12/01/android-aac-apps/

Resources:

Three Feature Matching Resources for AAC Apps (comparing features in AAC apps): https://omazingkidsllc.com/2022/02/28/three-feature-matching-resources-for-aac-apps-comparing-features-in-aac-apps/
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AAC Funding: Jumping Through Hoops & Proving Accuracy: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2018/02/14/aac-funding-jumping-through-hoops-proving-accuracy/


Disclaimer: I assume no liability for device or app purchases and am not making patient-specific recommendations.


The best way to reach me with any questions is via messaging on the OMazing Kids Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsAAC/. That way AAC related messages don’t get lost among the spam in my e-mail


Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP, Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC, OMazing Kids AAC Consulting

{AAC Tips} How SLPs can get FREE access to AAC apps, AAC app user groups, funding options & more! (2021)

{AAC Tips} How SLPs can get FREE access to AAC apps, AAC app user groups, funding options & more! (2021 Edition)

I’m doing a simplified version of this blog post. Each section will now be a separate blog post and then will be listed alphabetically and linked here. The focus continues to be on iOS AAC apps but there will also be some linked posts about AAC options on other platforms (Android, Windows, Amazon Kindle Fire, etc.).  

An AAC eval should include consideration and trials of traditional SGDs. You can contact your local AAC vendor reps for training and to borrow an SGD for short term loan.

A good AAC eval should also include consideration of features uniquely available in AAC apps but folks don’t often know how to get access to those. So I continue to feel the need to share info about that to help my fellow speechies build a better equipped AAC toolbox. I retired from clinical practice and am now doing AAC consulting.

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

Android AAC Apps: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2020/12/01/android-aac-apps/

How to Get Access to the Top 12 iOS Symbol-Based AAC Apps (1/29/22): https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/How-to-Get-Access-to-the-Top-12-iOS-Symbol-Based-AAC-Apps-TPT-Freebie-6869004 

How to Get Access to the Top 13 iOS Text-Based AAC Apps (2/9/22): https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/How-to-Get-Access-to-the-Top-13-iOS-Text-Based-AAC-Apps-TPT-Freebie-7741826

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FREE app, doesn’t have voice output until you activate it via the process described in the posts below: Snap + Core First by Tobii Dynavox LLC, https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/snap-core-first/id1072799231?mt=8

Update 8/24/20: Set up a free MyTobiiDynavox account and go through the steps to verify your status: https://www.mytobiidynavox.com/#/morestuff/professionals. Look on their website and Facebook group for current resources. Their website changes frequently so if any links are not working do a search on their website or ask in their group.

See these posts for info about how to activate the free voice output in the free version of the app: 

1/13/21: See this video on the Tobii Dynavox Technical Support YouTube channel regarding how to fix the voice output if it’s not speaking: https://youtu.be/dE4Zkr6ev5w

11/22/20 Updated post about how SLPs can activate voice output in the free version of the Snap Core First AAC app

https://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsYoga/photos/a.433610663356611.117461.174264525957894/1643765069007825/?type=3&theater

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Update 11/10/20: Snap PODD & Snap Gateway have been added and SLP’s with a verified MyTobiiDynavox for Professionals account can access both for free within the Snap Core First app. See step by step tips on how to access these on this post: https://www.facebook.com/174264525957894/posts/3622621321122180/

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They also have this free companion app filled with videos, tutorials and tips. It’s a very large app so make sure you have plenty of free space and a strong WiFi connection before downloading: Pathways for Core First by Tobii Dynavox LLC, https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/pathways-for-core-first/id1187433636?mt=8

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Update 11/5/20: Sharing for anyone who has the Tobii Dynavox Core First mini book PDFs bookmarked. Those have moved to this link: https://www.tobiidynavox.com/software/content/core-first-books-and-lessons/

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Tobii Dynavox has an official Facebook group for users and several of their staff are quick to answer questions & troubleshoot issues: https://www.facebook.com/groups/tobiidynavoxcommunity/?fref=ts

How to sync between the Indi & an iPad:

https://m.facebook.com/groups/127748650590859?view=permalink&id=1779827495382958&_rdr&hc_location=ufi

Training info & videos: https://www.tobiidynavox.com/support-training/snap-core-first/

Free PDFs of printable versions of the core pages in Core First are available in all grid sizes: https://www.tobiidynavox.com/support-training/downloads/snap/printable-core-first-communication-boards/

(Note:  Editable versions are available in Boardmaker Online by typing Core First into the Search All Activities box.)

Updated 8/24/20: Thinking Outside of the Box: Two Creative Uses for Snap Core First – https://omazingkidsllc.com/2020/08/23/thinking-outside-of-the-box-two-creative-uses-for-snap-core-first/

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keep going

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

How to get codes for AAC apps: The process for doing this is a little different for each app. I always start by contacting that developer via Facebook messaging on their FB page for that app. If I don’t get a response there, then I look on their website for an e-mail address or to see if they have a formal process for requesting a copy of the app. This info can be difficult to find so dig a little. It takes some time but is well worth it.  I am a SLP at a non-profit facility that does tons of AAC evals and purchasing recommendations. I have been able to get most of the main AAC apps and therefore have lots of options to trial during AAC evals. Feel pretty tech-geeky spending evenings and weekends doing this but it’s worth it to have access to lots of AAC options that then result in good AAC matches for the kids I serve.

Update 8/24/20: I am now retired but am staying up to date on features in AAC apps in case I decide to do some consulting work and so I’ll be equipped in case any family members ever need AAC.
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Here is an alphabetical list of AAC apps that I have gotten by going through this process and the way(s) I contacted those app developers. I hope I haven’t left anyone off the list. If I have, feel free to send me a message. There is not room to keep all the AAC apps loaded on my iPad at the same time so I rotate them on/off based on my patient’s needs. Most AAC apps are very large so I always suggest that SLPs get an iPad with the largest memory you can afford. Even with two 128GB iPad Airs, I am still constantly playing the “app shuffle” where I delete apps to make room to install others. I will be updating this list as I get new AAC apps:

  • aacorn & aacorn+ (Facebook messaging)
  • AAC Genie (Facebook messaging)
  • AlphaTopics (Facebook messaging)
  • Avatalker (Facebook messaging)
  • Avaz Pro (combo of Facebook messaging & e-mail)
  • BridgeBuilderAAC (Facebook messaging)
  • Click ‘n Talk & Talk’n Photos (Facebook messaging)
  • Clicker Communicator with SymbolStix & Clicker Communicator with PCS (Facebook messaging)
  • CoughDrop (the app developer contacted me)
  • Custom Boards (Facebook messaging)
  • GoTalk Now Plus by Attainment Company (combo of Facebook messaging & e-mail)
  • GoVisual Scene Maker by Attainment Company (e-mail)
  • Grace – Picture Exchange for Non-Verbal People (the app developer contacted me)
  • Grid for iPad by Smartbox Assistive Technology (combo of Facebook messaging & e-mail)
  • iESLp (combo of Facebook messaging & e-mail)
  • image2talk (Facebook messaging)
  • InnerVoice (Facebook messaging)
  • LAMP Words for Life (combo of Facebook messaging & e-mail. The key was to reach out to the app developers John & Cindy Holloran directly. I spent over a year with no success contacting PRC. You have to go through LAMP trainings prior to getting a code. Updated 8/24/20: new link to application: https://aacapps.com/partners/apply)
  • Make a Choice – AAC Buttons by pkclSoft (received a promo code after helping to beta-test this new app)
  • Mighty AAC (got it while it was free)
  • My First AAC (e-mail)
  • Niki Talk, Niki Talk + Tweet, Niki Music (adapted way to play music) & Niki Video (adapted way to play videos) (Facebook messaging)
  • PECS Phase III & PECS IV+ (e-mail – I had helped coordinate bringing a PECS workshop to our facility so that definitely helped)
  • Picture AAC (Facebook messaging)
  • Predictable, Scene & Heard & ChatAble (combo of Facebook messaging & e-mail)
  • Proloquo2Go & Proloquo4Text (AssistiveWare provides a free copy of the iOS and Mac versions of their AAC apps to Speech-Language Pathologists who conduct AAC evaluations on a case-by-case basis. Because they get a limited number of codes, they typically have a waiting list and prioritize requests based on caseload and geographic location. To request getting on that waiting list, SLPs can e-mail support@assistiveware.com. This same process applies to their simPODD app but it provides SLPs with a 1-year subscription (doesn’t include printing) and they will need to request access to simPODD each year).
  • Say Some More AAC Plus (combo of Facebook messaging & e-mail)
  • SayIt! (text to speech) (Facebook messaging)
  • See Me Talk (combo of Facebook messaging & e-mail)
  • simPODD (e-mailed AssistiveWare at support@assistiveware.com – received a free One Year Digital subscription – cannot print)
  • Snap Scene (it took multiple attempts to finally get connected with the right person at Tobii Dynavox to get a code for the full version)
  • So Much 2 Say (Facebook messaging)
  • Speak For Yourself (Facebook messaging)
  • Talk Tablet US (contacted this e-mail address: gusinc@me.com. Updated 8/24/20: That version of the app is no longer available for purchase. Instead they have a TalkTablet LITE – Eval Version for $1.99 and a Pro paid version. I don’t have either of those)
  • Tools2Talk+ (combo of Facebook messaging & e-mail)
  • Total Talk (e-mail) (Update 8/24/20: the app disappeared for several months from the App Store and then a revamped version relaunched as Talk Suite Pro)
  • TouchChat HD with WordPower (contacted my local Saltillo rep via e-mail. Find your rep: https://saltillo.com/reps. A word of advice… You really need the version that includes WordPower)
  • Verbal Me & Verbal Me Español (website contact form)

keys to success

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

  • Sono Flex (the free lite version has some interesting features but can’t make purchasing recommendations off that for the full app. The app has not been updated since 2014 so it will be interesting to see if still exists after iOS 11 is released. Updated 8/24/20: they finally updated that app in March 2018 but have made it clear that their focus is on updates and support for their Snap Core First app)

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Other AAC apps that I have and use:

  • 2Talk – AAC (got it while it was free)
  • AAC Expression Toolkit
  • Alexicom AAC (free. They also have several different paid apps. The app developer has indicated that they have purposefully released several apps specific to certain ages, genders & symbol types to keep the app sizes small and affordable. They will be adding info to their website to help SLPs and parents figure out which app might be best suited to a particular user. Update 8/24/20: This app developer also has several apps specifically designed for adults in medical situations.)
  • BRIDGE Communication – both the Lite and Pro versions (bought both when it they were on sale, it has some cool articulation pages built into it, can add video clips to buttons, several other unique features, has a Spanish option in the settings, has SymbolStix symbols, has a history of being updated frequently, price is very affordable for an app with this many features)
  • CanTunes (free, music choice boards, adapted means of accessing music on your iPad)
  • CardTalk (free & got the IAP to unlock all functions while it was free)
  • ChatterBoards AAC
  • ChoiceBoard – Creator
  • Choice Board Maker
  • Choice Boards
  • CommBoards
  • Communicate Easy
  • Communication Adventure – An app for communication training for caregivers of children with complex communication needs
  • CoreVoice – AAC Core Board
  • EESpeech Basic
  • Emergency Chat
  • Flip Writer AAC (and the Flip Writer Pocket iPhone version)
  • FreeVOCA
  • GoTalk Now Lite (free, has good features for a lite app. Often recommend it as an option while we are working on getting other options in place)
  • Grid Player
  • iHear PECS: Animals (bought it, a bargain for $1.99)
  • iSpeak Button Collection (bought it, $5.99, large full screen round button (looks similar to a BigMack), swipe screen to see the next button, up to 15 buttons)
  • Leeloo AAC – Autism Speech App
  • LetMeTalk
  • MenuAssist (free)
  • MyTalkTools Mobile Lite
  • PAROL (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.)
  • PAROL Mini
  • PhotoVOCA (had gotten an older version while it was free… then was able to udate to the new version for free)
  • PictoMaker
  • Picture Card Maker PLUS (got it while it was free. The app developer is in the process of releasing a major update for it)
  • PlayButton (free, https://appsto.re/us/WZ2lC.i. This FREE app is one of my faves for use as a single message VOCA. The activation area is very large (almost the entire screen). I use Guided Access to lock the “record” button to prevent accidental activations during use. Update 8/24/20: They added a place in the iPad Settings for this app to toggle off the recording button)
  • Posco AAC
  • Quick Type AAC (bought it, a bargain for $1.99)
  • Smooth Talker AAC
  • Sono Flex Lite
  • SoundingBoard (free)
  • Sorenson BuzzCards (type and show, no voice output, designed for hearing impaired to use to quickly communicate with those who don’t know sign)
  • Speak – Text to Speech
  • Spell Better – Literacy Support (includes text to speech)
  • Spuble – creating live speech bubbles (very unique voice to text app that transcribes what a person says so another person can read it on the screen)
  • SymboTalk – AAC Talker
  • TalkBoard Free
  • Talk For Me – Text to Speech
  • Talking Button by Masanori Kubota (got while it was free)
  • Tap Chat
  • TapSpeak Button Plus (won it in a giveaway on PrAACtical AAC)
  • Tom Taps Speak – AAC for Kids
  • Touch Switch (bought it, $4.99, play any music downloaded onto your iPad with full screen round button. Also plays eye catching animations. Really more for “cause & effect” but thought it was worth mentioning)
  • Verbally (free)
  • Voice4u TTS
  • Whiteboard – nothing more, nothing less
  • Widgit Go Basic
  • YesNo – questions made simple
  • Yes or No Communication
  • Yes/No
  • Yes / No Button Free

There are several other AAC apps that I have gotten when they were free for a day or two. When I see one, I download it to try out before deciding if it is worth sharing on social media. There are some apps in the App Store that claim to be AAC but are so poorly designed that I chose not to post about them.

Updated 8/24/20 – AAC apps for communicating about pain & medical situations:

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Updated 8/24/20: Keyboard Extension Apps: It may be helpful to consider using a keyboard extension app that would make the iOS iPad Keyboard easier to use with features that are special needs friendly.

FYI… There are a few AAC apps that use the iOS iPad Keyboard and therefore would allow for a keyboard extension app to be used. Examples include: Speak for Yourself, Proloquo2Go, Mighty AAC, ChatAble, Proloquo4Text, Predictable, Voice4u TTS, QuickType, Flip Writer, HandySpeech and several other text-to-speech (TTS) AAC apps. Exploring alternative keyboards can be a game changer for making typing as a means of AAC accessible. You may also want to explore accessibility features in the iPad settings (https://support.apple.com/guide/ipad/get-started-with-accessibility-features-ipad9a2465f9/ipados), styluses, adapted styluses, keyguards, external Bluetooth keyboards, etc. Take a look at Lauren S. Enders’ well organized Pinterest boards for ideas: https://pin.it/TWn9w6P (styluses: https://pin.it/t4cy8XV; keyboards & keyboard cases: https://pin.it/NydPTE8). I highly encourage you to collaborate with an Occupational Therapist and/or Assistive Technology Specialist when exploring AT options for the iPad. Some of that equipment is pricey so you want to make good decisions that fit that individual child’s needs. You may want to try things out in order to make those decisions. Check with the AT Lending Library in your state: https://www.at3center.net/stateprogram. Many have iPads, specialized apps and AT equipment available for short term loan to try out before making purchasing recommendations.

Updated 8/24/20: See this post for my top 10 free and affordable Text-to-Speech AAC apps: 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/

Updated 8/24/20: See quite a bit of info about features in free and affordable symbol-based AAC apps + info about Android versions of apps on this post: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2020/07/13/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-list-compiled-by-angela-moorad-ms/
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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.).

* 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.

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. 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.)

iOS app: CoughDrop by CoughDrop, Inc., https://apps.apple.com/us/app/coughdrop/id1021384570, Last update: April 2020

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

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Sources for symbols to customize AAC apps:
* https://www.opensymbols.org
* http://www.arasaac.org/index.php
* https://mulberrysymbols.org
* https://www.sclera.be/en/picto/overview
* https://icons8.com/icons/set/open-source
* https://www.flaticon.com
* https://openmoji.org/library/
* https://emojiisland.com/pages/free-download-emoji-icons-png
* https://www.joypixels.com
* https://connectability.ca/visuals-engine/
* https://touchchatapp.com/apps/touchchat-windows-editor
* https://www.prentrom.com/prc_advantage/free-software-download-pass
* https://www.pictoselector.eu
* https://www.senteacher.org/print/aac/
* 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

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What are my “favorite” AAC apps? I have several based on the features available in them. I know the list above looks overwhelming and I did not get these apps all at the same time. So here is some advice as to where to start in your quest to acquire AAC apps. If I had to narrow down the list to the top 10 robust AAC apps that stay loaded on my iPad all the time and have been a good match for several patients that I serve… they are (list updated 8/24/20 – subject to change as apps are updated with new features and other apps are released):

  • Avaz Pro
  • Clicker Communicator with PCS (and the version with SymbolStix)
  • CoughDrop
  • GoTalk Now Plus
  • Grid for iPad
  • LAMP Words for Life
  • Proloquo2Go
  • Snap Core First
  • Speak for Yourself
  • TouchChat HD with WordPower

I think of these as the most common tools in my AAC toolbox (like a hammer, pliers, saw, tape measure, drill, level, screwdriver & wrench are common tools at home). The rest are still very important “specialty” tools in my toolbox. They are fabulous for meeting less common and very specific needs. Think of an Alan Wrench. Not something you use very often but when you need one it is the only tool that will meet that need. And sometimes the best solution is a combination of several tools. Remember…. Good builders pick tools based on the task.

Feature Matching:

So I bet you are thinking “oh my goodness… how on earth can I learn about all the features to do a feature-match with so many options?”. The apps I have listed above are just the tip of the iceberg. There are hundreds.

Updated 8/24/20: 

The best way to keep up to date on the features in AAC apps is to have access to them and use them frequently. You can also gain helpful info in the user groups for apps on Facebook, videos released by the app developer and several resources listed below:

This is one of the most current resources that I’ve seen that lists features in AAC apps & devices: https://cpb-ca-c1.wpmucdn.com/learningnetwork.setbc.org/dist/0/896/files/2019/05/Whos-It-For-DRAFT-May-1-2019.pdf.

The app wheels by Call Scotland are very helpful and were updated in 2020:

iPad Apps for Complex Communication Support Needs: 

https://www.callscotland.org.uk/downloads/posters-and-leaflets/ipad-apps-for-complex-communication-support-needs/

(they also have a version for Android apps but it is older – last updated in 2018: https://www.callscotland.org.uk/downloads/posters-and-leaflets/android-apps-for-complex-communication-support-needs/)

iPad Apps for Learners with Complex Additional Support Needs:

https://www.callscotland.org.uk/downloads/posters-and-leaflets/ipad-apps-for-learners-with-complex-additional-support-needs/

See additional resources at: https://www.callscotland.org.uk/downloads/posters-and-leaflets/ & be sure to follow them on social media to see when updates are made (https://www.facebook.com/CALLScotland1983/ & https://twitter.com/CALLScotland?s=12, https://twitter.com/gxmcneill?s=12).

SET BC Supported AAC Device Comparison Chart April 2019 (their documents only include info on the apps and devices that they use but is still a helpful example and fairly recent): https://bit.ly/31qPo42. They also have a Feature Matching: Linear and Auditory Scanning (February 2019): https://bit.ly/32nIP1E & SET BC AAC Software/Apps with Visual Scenes: Comparison Chart (February 2019): https://bit.ly/3jcykF1

FYI…. features change rapidly as apps are updated or companies release new devices. So as soon as any resource list like these are published it likely already has something outdated in it.

But finding fairly recent documents like these at least gives a good starting point when comparing options in a feature match process. Tip: If a document you find online isn’t dated be sure to look at the iOS requirements listed in the features. There are VERY old charts that date back to iOS 4 that I saw that are totally outdated and are not an accurate or fair depiction of those apps.

FYI 2: I haven’t found any document that contains info on every AAC app or device so it’s important to research and consider ones that may not be on a particular list.

This Feature Match Comparison Chart from the Oklahoma Assistive Technology Center is helpful: https://bit.ly/3hs27cl

A Feature Matching Checklist by Jill Senner & Matt Baud: http://www.talcaac.com/SGD%20Features%20Checklist.pdf & several other great resources: http://www.talcaac.com/download.html. They have great Add-On Social Pages for use with Core Vocabularies: http://www.talcaac.com/pages.html

These two archived webinars by Lauren S. Enders are fairly recent and helpful:

AAC APPS: Considerations for Selecting, Customizing, & Getting Started – Part 1 – Lauren Enders (May 15, 2019) – includes 6 robust folder-based AAC apps (Proloquo2go, TouchChat HD with WordPower, Grid for iPad, Clicker Communicator, Avaz Pro & Snap Core First)

Webinar: https://youtu.be/cr9K1oTwpF8

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Slides: http://bit.ly/EndersAACAppsPart1

http://bit.ly/EndersAACAppsPart1
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AAC APPS: Considerations for Selecting, Customizing, & Getting Started – Part 2 – Lauren Enders (May 15, 2019) – includes 2 robust motor-plan based AAC apps (LAMP Words for Life & Speak for Yourself), 1 robust cloud-based app that’s a mix of folder-based with influences of motor-planning (CoughDrop), plus info about other types of AAC apps (including a nice overview of unique ways to use the GoTalk Now app)

Webinar: https://youtu.be/uTcfOouEi6o

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Slides: http://bit.ly/EndersAACAppsPart2

http://bit.ly/EndersAACAppsPart2
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Also this archived presentation by Christine Baudin: Comparing & Contrasting 5 Common Robust AAC apps – TouchChat with WordPower (focusing on 108 & 20 location page sets), Proloquo2Go (focusing on 7×11 grid), Snap Core First (focusing on 8×10 grid), LAMP Words for Life (84 location) & Speak for Yourself (120 location) – 2018 AAC in the Cloud

https://presenters.aacconference.com/videos/UXpNelFURTQ=

Unfortunately the AAC Ferret app that had been so helpful in searching for apps by specific features no longer exists. Word is the app developer ran into funding issues. Even if you still have that app loaded on your iPad, it no longer works. That app truly was a fabulous tool. My hope is that maybe it will reappear one day or that someone else will develop a tool like that.

My next “go to” resource used to be Jane Farrall’s website with her AAC app lists (http://www.janefarrall.com/aac-apps-lists/). Unfortunately she took that part of her website down since she no longer had time to keep updating it and the lists were outdated. It used to have several amazing lists:

  • Symbol/Picture apps – These are apps that have symbol based pages but don’t make text-to-speech available to the person who uses AAC.
  • Symbol & Text Based apps – These are apps that have symbol pages and make text-to-speech available to the person who uses AAC.
  • Text Based apps – These are apps that make text-to-speech available to the person who uses AAC or that have text only communication pages.

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Funding

Funding:

Wanting to get a bundled iPad with an AAC app in a durable case funded as a “dedicated” SGD through Medicaid or insurance? Your best bet is to check with the funding departments at these companies. They all offer iOS based devices with a variety of AAC apps as an option:

Ablenet: https://quicktalkerfreestyle.com

ACCI: https://www.acciinc.com/dedicated-acci-choice-communicators/

Forbes: https://www.forbesaac.com/proslate-series

Lincare AAC: https://www.lincareaac.com/

Talk to Me Technologies: the Wego A series of devices: https://www.talktometechnologies.com/pages/wegoa

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

Oklahoma Able Tech: https://www.ok.gov/abletech/# & great info here: http://okabletech-atdiscovery.org/at-discovery/speech-communication/

Another source that I’ve had good success with for funding an iPad with a robust AAC app in a durable case here in Oklahoma is the New Voices grant through Ability Connections Oklahoma: https://www.acok.org  (the funding comes and goes on this grant. See their Facebook page for updates: https://www.facebook.com/abilityconnectionoklahoma/).

If you are in Oklahoma, also check out the AAC Funding Guide: http://fundingguide.okstate.edu/

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

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

Why do many AAC apps cost so much? Drives me a little nuts when I see unkind comments regarding pricing of well designed AAC apps. Where else would we demand that something be put on sale or even worse demand that it should be free? Really?! The well designed robust AAC apps are a bargain even at full price if you stop to really think about being able to get a “voice” for a patient for a tiny fraction of the cost of traditional SGDs. It has been a game-changer and allowed many parents to be able to no longer have to wait on a SLP to be the decision maker / gatekeeper. Many parents post about “going rogue” in buying an iPad, AAC app & durable case for their child after being told they weren’t “ready” for that. News alert…. the old school mentality of there being a “hierarchy” that a child has to go through to “prove” they are “ready” for robust AAC is antiquated. Not saying that every AAC app or SGD is a good match for every child but I am saying that the days of kids with very complex needs being stuck with just a single message VOCA or a few PECS symbols have to end. See this presentation from Jane Farrall: http://www.janefarrall.com/lets-communicate-plenary-presentation-at-qaselcon16/ , this post about “What is “Beginning” AAC?“: http://www.janefarrall.com/what-is-beginning-aac/, and this powerful post on the Uncommon Sense Blog’s Facebook page: http://bit.ly/230RT5r.
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start
What about parents who want to try out AAC options? I highly recommend that you pursue an AAC eval with a SLP who has expertise in this area. Many larger school districts have an AAC team. But don’t feel that you have to wait if you are a parent who has been told “no” and want to proceed on your own. It may just be a little trickier to determine what the best AAC option will be for your child since most parents don’t have unlimited resources to buy several AAC apps to try. All states in the USA are supposed to have an Assistive Technology Lending Library program where parents & professionals can borrow AAC devices, iPads with AAC apps & other AT for short-term trial. It’s a great way to try various options out before making purchasing decisions. There are lots of great AAC devices and apps. It’s important to do a good feature-match and trial of options. Find the AT Lending Library in your state: https://www.at3center.net/stateprogram

The AT Program in your state may also know of SLPs who do AAC evals and funding resources specific to your area.

You can also search for AT Reuse programs: http://www.passitoncenter.org/reuse_locations.php)

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

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

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

Update 8/24/20: See Lauren’s new AAC Boot Camp Infographic: https://www.facebook.com/LaurenSEndersMaCccSlp/posts/2257606171044020?__tn__=H-R)

You may also see me “tag” Carole Zangari from PrAACtical AAC for the same reasons. http://praacticalaac.org/

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{AAC Assessment} “Just like driving a car, when you’ve been doing AAC assessments for a long time, you almost don’t have to think about the details of what you are doing.  I automatically pull out the devices and apps, YouTube, iPad, snack, bubbles and wind-ups, and start playing.  Unfortunately, it is less than helpful to tell people new to AAC to just play with students and watch what they do. In an effort to describe our process, I created a data sheet to break down the steps, and typed up the procedures and suggested apps.”  This post by Vicki Clarke from Dynamic Therapy Associates Inc on PrAACtical AAC is full of awesome tips for AAC assessment! I was excited to get new ideas for several apps that I already had and was inspired to buy an app that’s been on my “wish list” for awhile. I will also confess to buying the hippo toy pictured. It’s been on my “wish list” for awhile too (gotta love shopping on Amazon with free shipping). 😉

http://praacticalaac.org/praactical/aac-assessment-corner-with-vicki-clarke-aac-skills-assessment-for-direct-selectors/

Also: http://praacticalaac.org/praactical/aac-assessment-corner-by-vicki-clarke-is-aac-feature-matching-still-relevant/

Inspired to read more? Check out her other featured posts: http://praacticalaac.org/?s=vicki+clarke

Also check out her fabulous YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/patientmovies, Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dynamic-Therapy-Associates-Inc/120054654686483, Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/aacchicks/ & Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/AACchicks

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conflicting one way signs

What’s the best AAC approach? What’s the best dedicated speech generating device? What’s the best case? What’s the best ______….. Several times a week I am either asked this question or I see it posted in one of the many AAC Facebook groups I follow. Occasionally it seems to end up in a rather heated debate of ______ vs. ________. Even arguments over core vs. fringe vocabulary. For a balanced approach in use of core & fringe vocabulary, check out this fabulous post on PrAACtically AAC: http://praacticalaac.org/praactical/the-baby-the-bathwater-and-core-vocabulary/. This is counterproductive. Although there are key best practices when considering AAC options, there is not any one best AAC option (or one best therapy approach, or one best anything) when it comes to best meeting individual needs. I have added a lot of tools to my toolbox over my 26+ year career as a speech-language pathologist. There have been pivotal moments where new tools were added that forever changed my perspective. Although shiny new tools may be exciting they did not replace the old tried & true tools. The exciting thing about tools is that you can use them together to build & repair. Would it make sense to ask “What’s better…. a hammer or a drill? a saw or a tape measure? a wrench or a flashlight? Of course not. Each tool has it’s specific purpose. You select the tool based on what job you need to accomplish.
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Have questions? The quickest and most reliable way to reach me is via Facebook messaging on my OMazing Kids page. Thank goodness it seems to be immune from spammers unlike my e-mail.
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Are you an AAC app developer? I’d be more than glad to help beta test your app and then post about it when it is released for sale. I don’t charge a fee. Just would need a free promo code for the full version of that AAC app so I can add it to my toolbox. I never post about apps that I haven’t tried out first. Oh and a word of advice to app developers… state run facilities and schools have difficulty with in-app purchases or subscription-based apps as do potential funding sources such as Medicaid or insurance companies. So you will have a wider audience if you also offer a full paid version of your AAC app.

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I am asked pretty frequently for my thoughts on AAC app development. Here is my advice:

  • Any new AAC app needs to support robust communication for a wide variety of functions. There are already lots of simple choice making apps on the market.
  • Take a good look at the major AAC apps on the market and determine what specific features your new app would offer that are not already available.
  • Do lots of beta testing to insure the app is intuitive / easy to use. Even with the best intentions some AAC apps never take off. An example is Total Talk. It has several unique features but is not very intuitive to use and they initially only let you pick one voice (that has since changed but they lost the initial momentum that comes with a new app release). (Update: 8/24/20 – It was nice to see the Total Talk app revamped and relaunched as “Talk Suite Pro”. The app has some unique features so hopefully it will make it this time)
  • You only should offer an AAC app that is truly worth having and meets needs. There are several free or very cheap AAC apps on the market. But you rarely see them mentioned or recommended because they are so poorly designed.
  • Determine what platform you will develop the app for (iOS or Android). It’s very rare for app developers to be able to tackle both platforms and do it well. Most AAC app developers stick with the iOS platform because it is uniform and thus easier and less costly to develop apps for.
  • Beyond the initial costs of developing the app, make sure that you also have a very well thought out long term plan and finances for supporting and keeping an AAC app updated. I’ve received numerous messages on my OMazing Kids page from parents and therapist with very heartbreaking stories of AAC users losing their voice when iOS 11 came out. Several small AAC app developers had not updated those apps in almost 5 years. It’s one thing to lose a favorite game or therapy app but a whole different thing to lose an AAC app.

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Updated 12/1/20 – Links to other AAC posts:

* 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.

* 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: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2020/07/13/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-list-compiled-by-angela-moorad-ms/

* Free and affordable Text to Speech AAC apps: 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/

* Free & affordable big text apps that may be helpful when trying to communicate while wearing a mask: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2020/06/20/10-free-affordable-big-text-apps-list-complied-by-angela-moorad-ms-ccc-slp-omazing-kids/

* Game Apps & AAC: why these need to be on separate devices: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2016/07/31/game-apps-aac-why-these-need-to-be-on-separate-devices/

* Over 100 Free & Affordable Apps + Boom Cards to Target AAC Core Vocabulary: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2020/07/22/over-100-free-affordable-apps-boom-cards-to-target-aac-core-vocabulary-list-compiled-by-angela-moorad-ms-ccc-slp-omazing-kids/

* FREE app + PDF with 8 pages of FREE printables to target Core Vocabulary, Articulation & Rhyming: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2020/07/17/free-app-pdf-with-8-pages-of-free-printables-to-target-core-vocabulary-articulation-rhyming-created-by-angela-moorad-ms-ccc-slp-omazing-kids/

* Review & Comparison of Features in Digital PODD iPad apps (simPODD, Grid for iPad and PODD with Compass) …. plus tons of PODD resources: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2018/01/10/i-have-something-to-say-about-podd/

* Spanish AAC Apps, Devices & Resources (Hablo con CAA): https://omazingkidsllc.com/2018/02/25/spanish-aac-apps-devices-resources-hablo-con-caa/

* Apps & Websites to Create Materials with Symbols on an iPad & iPhone: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2020/08/25/apps-websites-to-create-materials-with-symbols-on-an-ipad-iphone-list-compiled-by-angela-moorad-ms-ccc-slp-at-omazing-kids/

* The iPad & the SLP in 2020 and Beyond: Interactive PDF Resource List of iOS apps, Boom Cards, Teachers Pay Teachers materials, Teletherapy Resources and Online Resources – organized by goal areas, themes and topics (includes AAC & Assistive Technology sections): https://omazingkidsllc.com/2020/11/29/the-ipad-the-slp-in-2020-and-beyond-interactive-pdf-resource-list-of-ios-apps-boom-cards-teachers-pay-teachers-materials-teletherapy-resources-and-online-resources-organized-by-goa/

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Updated 8/24/20:

📥 Want to suggest iOS AAC apps to be added to this post? The best way to reach me is via Facebook messaging over on my OMazing Kids page.

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 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 or iPhone is compatible in order to try it out.

If you see info or links that need to be updated on this post, feel free to send me a Facebook message on my OMazing Kids page.

Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP, Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC
Facebook: https://bit.ly/2Si6k7Y
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Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/OMazingKids/
Blog: http://omazingkidsllc.com

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{please ignore any ads that may appear below. This is a free blog and I don’t have any control over ads nor do I profit from them}

How to Get Access to the Top 10 iOS Symbol-Based AAC Apps (updated 5/13/21) – compiled by Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP, OMazing Kids AAC Consulting (part of a larger feature matching chart)

*** See this new post for the most current info & a major update: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2021/07/20/feature-matching-chart-for-the-top-11-robust-ios-symbol-based-aac-apps/ ***

https://youtu.be/OFecdvc7A4Y

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/How-to-Get-Access-to-the-Top-11-iOS-Symbol-Based-AAC-Apps-TPT-Freebie-6869004

How to Get Access to the Top 10 iOS Symbol-Based AAC Apps (updated 5/13/21)

  • This chart contains information that was confirmed with each app developer to insure accuracy.
  • It is part of a much larger feature matching chart.

The feature matching chart is available on my Teachers Pay Teachers store: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Feature-Matching-Chart-for-the-Top-10-iOS-Symbol-Based-AAC-Apps-6867853

  • Inclusion in the “Top 10” was based on features, long term availability in the App Store, good history of being updated, having patients who benefited from using the app, gathering data from app recommendations from SLPs who have expertise in AAC, etc. The list was purposefully limited to the top 10 in order to keep it manageable for updates as apps continue to add features in the future. I plan on maintaining and updating the chart for the foreseeable future to help meet the need for current and comprehensive info to be used in feature matching. Inclusion of particular apps is subject to change based on features and an ongoing track record of support and updates. The purpose of this chart isn’t to name a “best” app since the “best” AAC for that individual is the combination of options (variety of apps, SGDs, no-tech, etc.) that meets their needs at that moment in time. This chart is not intended to imply that any app not on this list is not well designed or serve a very important function.

Get the free 1-page PDF: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/How-to-Get-Access-to-the-Top-10-iOS-Symbol-Based-AAC-Apps-TPT-Freebie-6869004 (this is a permanent freebie on my TPT Store)


Looking for info about how to get access to digital PODD options? Head over to this post and scroll down to that section: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2018/01/10/i-have-something-to-say-about-podd/

The best way to reach me with any questions is via messaging on the OMazing Kids Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsAAC/

Terms of Use:

  • You may not copy any part of this document (including the content, layout, format, ideas or design) and reproduce it or distribute it as your own work.
  • Please do not copy/paste this info onto other blogs or save this PDF in any online groups or files. Instead, feel free to share the post from my blog or social media sites or the link to my TPT store.

I assume no liability for app purchases and am not making patient-specific recommendations.

This document was the sole idea and creation of Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP, OMazing Kids AAC Consulting, OMazing Kids, LLC, all rights reserved. © 2021 and beyond.
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Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP, Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC OMazing Kids AAC Consulting

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How to Find Info About AAC & AT Companies (and local vendor reps)

The Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) has a nice directory of AAC & AT Companies. It’s quite helpful when you are searching for info but may not know the name of a particular company: https://www.atia.org/about-atia/membership-directory/. I browse through there frequently to see what’s new.

It’s important to connect with the local vendor reps / consultants for your area. They can provide free training, help you access devices for short term loan, help connect you with their funding department for questions about how to navigate through that process, etc.

Once you navigate to a particular company’s website it can take a little digging to find your local vendor rep / local consultant. So here are links to where you can find that info for companies selling AAC speech generating devices:


There will be separate post with contact info for AAC app developers & a separate post with info about AT Lending Programs in the USA. Your state’s AT Lending Program can be a good option for borrowing equipment for short term loan (especially when you need to try items from a company that doesn’t have a loaner program or what you need isn’t currently available)


Have a question? The best way to reach me is via Facebook messaging over on my OMazing Kids page: https://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsAAC/


Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP, Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC, OMazing Kids AAC Consulting