Posts Tagged ‘AAC’

Sight Word Readers & AAC

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Sight Word Readers & AAC

Sight word readers are a great way to target vocabulary for AAC users. They are usually short, repetitive and contain core vocabulary as well as seasonal or high interest vocabulary. Check out this FREEBIE on Teachers Pay Teachers: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Christmas-Sight-Word-Books-FREEBIE-399329

I currently have patients using Speak For Yourself, LAMP Words For Life & TouchChat so I am going to print symbols for the core vocabulary (has, get, on, can) from those AAC apps. I saved the PDF of the free sight word reader books in iBooks on my second iPad and will use the symbols with that while we use my main iPad or the patient’s device (for those who have one) as the “talker”. I’ll also do programming to add any seasonal fringe vocabulary that may not already be in the AAC apps.

See these posts for more free printable sight word readers:

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.Disclaimer: I believe in a “balanced” approach to AAC with a good mix of core vocabulary and fringe vocabulary customized to that child’s particular interests. See this post from PrAACtical AAC: http://bit.ly/1Ds1d4x

I’m so very tired of seeing posts in Facebook groups with heated debates between folks who are diehard “core only” and those who are “noun only”. Folks get so focused on defending their approach that they lose sight of what an individual AAC user may need or that AAC should be fun.

#AugComm #LiteracyForAll #AAC #SLPeeps
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Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist
Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC – inclusive wellness & educational activities for kids of all abilities
Facebook Messaging for OMazing Kids: http://m.me/OMazingKidsYoga
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsYoga
AppPeeps Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OMazingKidsAppPeeps/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/amoorad
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/omazingkids
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/amoorad1
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/OMazingKids/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/110305433538768736741
Boardmaker Share: http://www.boardmakershare.com/Community/FriendsProfile/10916/Angela-Moorad
Blog: http://omazingkidsllc.com
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Angela Moorad is the founder of OMazing Kids, LLC and is an ASHA certified & licensed pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and Kids Yoga Teacher with 27 years experience working in a variety of settings (early intervention, schools, teletherapy & a nonprofit pediatric rehab hospital for children with developmental disabilities). She is an app beta tester for educational & therapeutic app developers and loves sharing info about great apps, products, books & toys to use with kids of all abilities.

{FREE Apps} Turn your iPad, iPhone or iTouch into a single message VOCA

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Two great FREE apps that will turn your iPad, iTouch or iPhone into a single message VOCA (voice output communication aide). I’ve had a couple of patient’s parents ask about a way for their child to say “Trick or Treat”. Sharing these two apps again in case your child doesn’t have an AAC system, doesn’t have a way to say it in that system, etc… You may also want to consider adding a portable external Bluetooth speaker like the ION Clipster so your child can say it loudly enough among the crowds of other kids. Links to the apps & my post about this fabulous speaker are in the comments on this Facebook post:

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Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist
Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC – inclusive wellness & educational activities for kids of all abilities
Facebook Messaging for OMazing Kids: https://www.facebook.com/messages/17426452595789
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsYoga
AppPeeps Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OMazingKidsAppPeeps/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/amoorad
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/amoorad1
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/OMazingKids/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/110305433538768736741
Boardmaker Share: http://www.boardmakershare.com/Community/FriendsProfile/10916/Angela-Moorad
Blog: http://omazingkidsllc.com

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Angela Moorad is the founder of OMazing Kids, LLC and is an ASHA certified & licensed pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and Kids Yoga Teacher with over 27 years experience working in a variety of settings (early intervention, schools, teletherapy & a nonprofit pediatric rehab hospital for children with developmental disabilities). She is an app beta tester for educational & therapeutic app developers and loves sharing info about great apps, products, books & toys to use with kids of all abilities.

{Appy AAC Awareness Month}: Favorite Apps for Teaching AAC Core Vocabulary

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{Appy AAC Awareness Month}: Favorite Apps for Teaching AAC Core Vocabulary

I’m always looking for fun and motivating ways to target core vocabulary for my patients that are AAC users. I use a variety of toys, books, sensory activities & apps to provide lots of opportunities for practice in the short amount of time I have with them in OMazing Kids speech therapy each week. My iPad loaded with fabulous apps is one of the best tools in my SLP therapy toolbox!


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Here are some of my favorite iOS apps for targeting core vocabulary (listed in alphabetical order, prices were verified and all were available in the USA App Store at the time of this post. I have no way to know if these apps are available in other countries or what the prices would be if they are):

* BakingFun for Kids, $1.99, https://appsto.re/us/HZYAQ.i (free printable core vocab mini book to go with the app: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2014/08/25/core-vocabulary-app-of-the-week-free-printable-booklet-baking-fun-by-kujifun/)
* Bamba apps (my faves are: Ice-Cream, FREE, https://appsto.re/us/gkz-F.i & Wonderland, FREE, https://appsto.re/us/Frwzcb.i)
* Build A Truck – Duck Duck Moose, FREE, https://appsto.re/us/tSBYR.i
* Choo Choo Park, $.99 -> currently FREE, https://appsto.re/us/V2G_9.i (definitely worth grabbing all 6 of their apps while they are free. I rotate them on/off my iPad seasonally or based on themes)
* Dr. Panda apps (tons of great apps… some of my faves: Bus Driver, $2.99. -> currently on sale for $.99, https://appsto.re/us/JhJlS.i; Carnival, $2.99, https://appsto.re/us/KvVQ7.i; Bath Time,
$2.99, https://appsto.re/us/iek0bb.i; Daycare, $2.99, https://appsto.re/us/fuJuI.i & Swimming Pool, $1.99, https://appsto.re/us/xKWM2.i)
* Frosby Picnic Camp, $1.99, https://appsto.re/us/1H16O.i
* Fuzzy House, $2.99, https://appsto.re/us/jPZBbb.i
* Let’s Make Friends – Play Toy, $2.99, https://appsto.re/us/Rvk-Q.i
* My PlayHome, $3.99, https://appsto.re/us/5fdnA.i (they also have Stores (https://appsto.re/us/slcXO.i), School (https://appsto.re/us/zL392.i) & Hospital (https://appsto.re/us/FAksbb.i) apps that are $2.99 each and the cool thing is the apps all link to each other so you can easily explore the town)
* Pepi Garage, FREE, https://appsto.re/us/a0Me9.i
* Pogg, $.99, https://appsto.re/us/L4HUt.i
* Sago Mini apps (lots of great apps…. some of my faves: Friends, FREE, https://appsto.re/us/61Qh0.i; Road Trip, $2.99, https://appsto.re/us/M1E7Z.i
* Science Museum Splash!, $.99, https://appsto.re/us/sfoDQ.i (very excited to see this app reappear in the App Store)
* Sharing with Duckie Deck, $2.99, https://appsto.re/us/la7qI.i
* Toca Boca apps (several great apps… some of my faves: Pet Doctor, $2.99, https://appsto.re/us/HnSkW.i, Tea Party, $2.99, https://appsto.re/us/Kogsz.i & Train, $2.99, https://appsto.re/us/JM5fF.i)
* Wheels on the Bus HD by Duck Duck Moose, FREE, https://appsto.re/us/kg7kw.i

For older kids & teens, I also use a variety of sports-themed and game apps (ex: Streetball Game, $2.99, https://appsto.re/us/Vv80bb.i; Galaxy Bowling, $3.99,
https://appsto.re/us/FwitA.i; Air Hockey by Acceleroto, $.99, https://appsto.re/us/LrAdr.i, Sprinkle Junior, $1.99, https://appsto.re/us/KB7sC.i, Thinkrolls Logic Puzzles Bundle – 2 apps, $5.99, https://appsto.re/us/sr_0db.i)
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Tips: Apps come and go frequently in the App Store. New apps are released. Sometimes older apps disappear while they are being updated. Sometimes they never reappear. So it’s always wise to periodically back up your iPad by plugging it into a computer logged into your iTunes account. This insures you won’t lose any apps that may disappear from the App Store. I originally got most of these apps by grabbing them quickly when they were free for a day or two. Watch my OMazing Kids Facebook page and AppPeeps Facebook group where I share these as “free app alerts”. Others I got on sale or via doing app reviews.

The main thing I look for when searching for apps to use for targeting core vocabulary for AAC users in therapy sessions are open-ended play apps that are intuitive, have large engaging graphics, are ad-free, have the option to toggle off any background music or it is very subtle (not over stimulating) while still leaving on any sound effects or voiceovers and any outside links are well hidden behind a parental gate.
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Of course these apps must be on a separate iPad from their “talker” so you can “talk” while playing


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I use these apps to target the same core vocabulary that I would with a “real” toy or activity. Think of it as the “virtual” version of that. I lock the “play” iPad into the app that I have selected by enabling Guided Access. If the child is using an iPad as their “talker”, then it is also locked into their AAC app via Guided Access.


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Need ideas for how to target core vocabulary? I’m LOVING the Core Word 5-Minute Fillers on the NEW AssistiveWare Core Word Classroom website. Here’s a screenshot of the one for Mr. Potato Head.

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You could use these ideas with a “real” Mr. Potato Head or the app version (Mr. Potato Head – Create & Play: School Edition by Originator Inc., $4.99, https://appsto.re/us/Y6JCI.i)

http://coreword.assistiveware.com – It’s only free for a short time while the website is in “beta” development so I’d suggest that you save any PDFs that you love.
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I also love this free resource from Saltillo (maker of NovaChat and ChatFusion SGDs & the TouchChat AAC app): https://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsYoga/photos/a.433610663356611.117461.174264525957894/1192093340841669/?type=3
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Other helpful resources:

Balanced AAC approach: http://praacticalaac.org/praactical/the-baby-the-bathwater-and-core-vocabulary/

Tons of great info: http://praacticalaac.org/?s=Core

Quick handout: http://www.handyhandouts.com/pdf/405_CoreVocabulary.pdf

Need help getting FREE access to AAC apps to trial with patients? Check out this post:

#SLPeeps #AAC #AidedLanguageStimulation #augcomm
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Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist
Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC – inclusive wellness & educational activities for kids of all abilities
Home E-Mail: amoorad1@juno.com
Facebook Messaging for OMazing Kids: https://www.facebook.com/messages/17426452595789
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsYoga
AppPeeps Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OMazingKidsAppPeeps/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/amoorad
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/omazingkids
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/amoorad1
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/OMazingKids/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/110305433538768736741
Boardmaker Share: http://www.boardmakershare.com/Community/FriendsProfile/10916/Angela-Moorad
Blog: http://omazingkidsllc.com
Angela Moorad is the founder of OMazing Kids, LLC and is an ASHA certified & licensed pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and Kids Yoga Teacher with over 26 years experience working in a variety of settings (early intervention, schools, teletherapy & a nonprofit pediatric rehab hospital for children with developmental disabilities). She is an app beta tester for educational & therapeutic app developers and loves sharing info about great apps, products, books & toys to use with kids of all abilities.

Game Apps & AAC: why these need to be on separate devices

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{Game Apps & AAC} Here is a perfect example of why an AAC app needs to be on a separate iPad from the “fun stuff”. Last week one of my patients earned 5 minutes of play time at the end of a session. We had already done a full session of aided language input and practice in using the TouchChat with WordPower AAC app. But I did not turn that off when I got out my secondary iPad with all the fun game apps… I always leave a “talker” out and available. This patient chose a basketball game and was having a blast shooting virtual hoops. But the true magic happened next. The game app has a variety of vehicles that go by on the street in the background. To be honest I hadn’t even noticed that they were there. He got so excited and spontaneously activated “groups” -> “vehicles” -> and then found the button for the vehicle that had just gone by in the app. It was fun to watch him go back and forth between shooting hoops and commenting on vehicles. I modeled use of social comments “sweet” & “awesome” when he made a great shot. If I only had one iPad, he would not have had the opportunity for this spontaneous language experience.

I just checked and the game app that we used is still currently FREE:
Streetball Game by Rodrigo Schmitt de Andrade
https://appsto.re/us/Vv80bb.i

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{FYI… yes this patient has his own NovaChat AAC device. Unfortunately the charging port is damaged so it has been shipped back for repairs. Glad I have TouchChat set up with the same pageset so we can continue to practice AAC use while his talker is being fixed during his inpatient admission at the hospital where I work as a SLP}
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Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist
Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC – inclusive wellness & educational activities for kids of all abilities
Home E-Mail: amoorad1@juno.com
Facebook Messaging for OMazing Kids: https://www.facebook.com/messages/17426452595789
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsYoga
AppPeeps Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OMazingKidsAppPeeps/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/amoorad
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/amoorad1
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/OMazingKids/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/110305433538768736741
Boardmaker Share: http://www.boardmakershare.com/Community/FriendsProfile/10916/Angela-Moorad
Blog: http://omazingkidsllc.com
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Angela Moorad is the founder of OMazing Kids, LLC and is an ASHA certified & licensed pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and Kids Yoga Teacher with over 26 years experience working in a variety of settings (early intervention, schools, teletherapy & a nonprofit pediatric rehab hospital for children with developmental disabilities). She is an app beta tester for educational & therapeutic app developers and loves sharing info about great apps, products, books & toys to use with kids of all abilities.
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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}

{Review} Bluebee Pals Pro

Bluebee Pals Pro

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{Review} Bluebee Pals Pro

I was excited to have the opportunity to test the upgraded version of the Bluebee Pals. I’ve been using them since April 2015 (see this post: http://bit.ly/2aAAsqO). Always fun to watch products evolve over time. Here’s what I love about the new Bluebee Pals Pros:

  • They are slightly larger, slightly heavier & fluffier
  • The sound output is louder with more noticeable mouth movement
  • The Bluebee Pal Pro tells you to connect it via Bluetooth, provides verbal feedback when it is connected and tells you when it needs to be charged
  • The process of connecting it to a device via Bluetooth is easier than before

The only slight glitch I noticed is that part of the word was left off when using it with an AAC app but this appeared to resolve after the first couple of activations. When doing a side-by-side comparison of the original and new Bluebee Pals, this was less noticeable with the new version.

Price: $64.99 each

Website: https://bluebeepals.com
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Side-by-side comparison:

Another fun use for Bluebee Pals is with music or music apps:

Singing “Sparrows”:

Singing “Take the Sun” in the Caspar Babypants Music Time! app
https://appsto.re/us/DGLdN.i

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See the power of using Bluebee Pals: 

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Quick instructional “how to” video:

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The company continues to be dedicated to getting Bluebee Pals into the hands of professionals working with kids with special needs. They have generously donated numerous Bluebee Pals to teachers, SLPs, OTs, etc… Check out their Bluebee Pals Ambassador program:

Ambassadors

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Follow them on social media for product updates: https://www.facebook.com/BluebeePals

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_1ePfSV9XWfg_rCtdU634A
https://www.instagram.com/bluebeepals/

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Disclaimer: I received free samples of the product to review. No compensation was received to review them and my opinions are strictly my own.
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Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist
Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC – inclusive wellness & educational activities for kids of all abilities
Home E-Mail: amoorad1@juno.com
Facebook Messaging for OMazing Kids: https://www.facebook.com/messages/17426452595789
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsYoga
AppPeeps Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OMazingKidsAppPeeps/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/amoorad
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/amoorad1
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/OMazingKids/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/110305433538768736741
Boardmaker Share: http://www.boardmakershare.com/Community/FriendsProfile/10916/Angela-Moorad
Blog: http://omazingkidsllc.com
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Angela Moorad is the founder of OMazing Kids, LLC and is an ASHA certified & licensed pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and Kids Yoga Teacher with over 26 years experience working in a variety of settings (early intervention, schools, teletherapy & a nonprofit pediatric rehab hospital for children with developmental disabilities). She is an app beta tester for educational & therapeutic app developers and loves sharing info about great apps, products, books & toys to use with kids of all abilities.
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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}

{App Review} Tools2Talk+: an affordable way to access PCS symbols

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{App Review} Looking for an affordable way to access Mayer-Johnson PCS symbols to make communication boards, PECS symbols or visual supports? Tools2Talk+ is a brand new app designed by SLPs from Scope. Create communication aids with PCS symbols, Compic symbols or your own photos. There are nearly 100 different page layouts options available, including 81 grids and 14 templates. Print or share via email. Use “chat mode” to have a button spoken with one of the text to speech iOS voices.

Key Features:

  • Over 20,000 PCS symbols (PCS Classic & PCS ThinLine)
  • Over 1,500 Compic symbols
  • Add your own images to cells via the iPad camera or images saved on your Camera Roll
  • Use the boards on your iPad with text to speech via iOS Voices with adjustable rate in Chat Mode
  • Print boards
  • Email boards in PDF
  • Customize cell color, cell font, page background color and more. Love the option to set a default font, font size & font color!
  • Undo/Redo options to fix mistakes quickly
  • Edit multiple cells at the same time (love this feature!)
  • Change the board configuration in edit mode
  • Drag and drop cells to different positions on the board
  • Easily navigate using the dropdown menu in chat mode
  • In-app user guide

App Store link: https://appsto.re/us/tYUeab.i

Special intro pricing: $47.99 (USA App Store) – pricing varies in other countries based on the exchange rate. An affordable option to get access to PCS symbols compared to the subscription rate for Boardmaker Online (starts at $99 per year) or Boardmaker software (starts at $399).

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Tip: Want to use a PCS symbol in one of your other AAC apps? Use this app. Make a 1×1 template, add the PCS symbol you want and delete the label text. Then take a screenshot on your iPad. It will save it to your Camera Roll. Crop that pic and then import it from your camera roll into most AAC apps. Some AAC apps do best with a square pic so I usually crop my pics accordingly.

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I’m LOVING this app as a way to finally be able to make printable communication boards, PECS & visual supports with the PCS symbols many of my patients are accustomed to without having to sit at a computer or pay for an online subscription! While this app is not as full featured as the Boardmaker software I use on a computer, it’s the perfect solution when I want to make a few simple things while sitting in the comfy spot on my sofa in the evening or in the middle of a session where I have my iPad but don’t have access to a computer. Seriously cool to be able to create a simple visual support with parent input in the middle of a session and e-mail it to the parent right there. I even used the app to quickly make some minimal contrast pairs in the middle of a session and then used them in chat mode on my iPad with that patient. A busy SLP’s dream come true!

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Video with a few tips:

 

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I have just a few wishes for a future app update to make the app even better:

  • add a freestyle option where buttons of various sizes can be placed anywhere on the page rather than being limited to a grid. I have a patient with limited hand mobility that I want to try symbols in an arch with an empty spot for her hand to rest underneath. It would be awesome to create this type of configuration in this app!
  • make the symbol search more efficient. For example, when I searched for the pronoun “I” it was not at the top of the list…. had to scroll down pretty far to find it. I also noticed a few instances where a particular symbol did not come up as available in a search by the whole word but then did when just the first couple of letters were entered.
  • make the spoken text automatically adjust when editing the symbol on a button. I found that it still spoke whatever the original symbol text was. I was able to fix it by then editing the spoken text but it would be nice to not have to do that extra step.
  • add option to create specific size symbols. I often make 1.5″ x 1.5″ or 2″ x 2″ symbols for PECS books. It would be great to know what size symbols are being made in this app when I will be printing them.
  • include the PCS High Contrast symbol library.
  • add templates for overlays for common mid-tech AAC devices. For example, we still use various sizes of the GoTalk AAC devices at the hospital where I work so it would be cool to be make paper overlays for those.

FYI… the previous version of this app that contained SymbolStix symbols is no longer available in the App Store. If you have that app be sure to back up your iPad with iTunes on your computer so you will still have it in the event of the app being deleted or your iPad having to be restored to factory settings.

UPDATE: If you previously purchased the original app and then lost it because it was not installed on your iPad at the time the app was removed from the App Store, please contact the company at the e-mail address (circ@scopevic.org.au) listed in this comment on their Facebook page on 10/10/16:


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Disclaimer: I received this app via a promo code from the developer. No compensation was received to review it and my opinions are strictly my own.
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Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist
Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC – inclusive wellness & educational activities for kids of all abilities
Home E-Mail: amoorad1@juno.com
Facebook Messaging for OMazing Kids: https://www.facebook.com/messages/17426452595789
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsYoga
AppPeeps Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OMazingKidsAppPeeps/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/amoorad
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/amoorad1
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/OMazingKids/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/110305433538768736741
Boardmaker Share: http://www.boardmakershare.com/Community/FriendsProfile/10916/Angela-Moorad
Blog: http://omazingkidsllc.com
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Angela Moorad is the founder of OMazing Kids, LLC and is an ASHA certified & licensed pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and Kids Yoga Teacher with over 26 years experience working in a variety of settings (early intervention, schools, teletherapy & a nonprofit pediatric rehab hospital for children with developmental disabilities). She is an app beta tester for educational & therapeutic app developers and loves sharing info about great apps, products, books & toys to use with kids of all abilities.
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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}

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

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

I have seen no less than 10 posts in a variety of Facebook groups this week from SLPs asking about free lite versions of AAC apps worded in a way that it was clear that the person who posted it thought that was their only option for getting access to AAC apps to trial with patients / students. Of course any good AAC eval would also include consideration and trials of traditional SGDs. Most folks know to contact their local vendor rep to borrow a SGD (the info to find out who to contact is readily available on those companies websites) so that’s not really where the problem is. 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 felt a need to share info here to help my fellow speechies build a better equipped AAC toolbox. I guess the closer I get to retirement the more I feel compelled to share knowledge accumulated over my 26+ year career.

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.

But I have good news! There is a way to get FREE access to the full version of many AAC apps but it will “cost” you some time and effort. If you’re willing to work a little, continue reading (I hope you are for the sake of the patient / students you serve).

Free access to the Tobii Dynavox Compass AAC app for SLPs: http://www.tobiidynavox.com/slp-app/. The upside is you have access to premium page sets too. The downside is it’s annoying that it only allows you to have one iPad logged on at a time. This does not lend itself well to AAC evals that may be done in a single appointment and you need to be able to trial on a full sized iPad and an iPad Mini. This would be such an easy fix Tobii Dynavox (in case you happen to read this post)… just allow 2 iPads to be logged in at a time. I’m guessing you set a limit to prevent SLPs from logging on from personal iPads for their full caseload and thus undermining the market for the paid versions of the app but a limit of 2 would be a good compromise.

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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.
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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 (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 (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)
  • 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 (have to dig quite a bit to find this info on their website. E-Mail regarding their Resource Center program: support@assistiveware.com, http://www.assistiveware.com/support/faq/page/266)
  • 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)
  • So Much 2 Say (Facebook messaging)
  • Speak For Yourself (Facebook messaging)
  • Talk Tablet US (contacted this e-mail address: gusinc@me.com)
  • Tools2Talk+ (combo of Facebook messaging & e-mail)
  • Total Talk (e-mail)
  • 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 versions of following AAC apps. Which means I can’t recommend them since I have no way to trial the full featured version during an AAC eval nor do I recommend them when therapists or parents ask about AAC options in the numerous Facebook groups that I participate in since I haven’t used them:

  • Snap Scene (the free lite version is cool so I have shared info about it but still can’t make purchasing recommendations for the full app)
  • Sono Flex (the free lite version has some interesting features but can’t make purchasing recommendations off that for the full app)
  • TapSpeak Choice AAC

If anyone has been successful in getting a promo code for access to the full versions any of these AAC apps, I would LOVE to hear details on how you accomplished that!
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Other AAC apps that I have and use:

  • Alexicom AAC (free. They have several other paid apps but I don’t have those)
  • BRIDGE Communication (bought it when it was on sale for $.99, it has some cool articulation pages built into it and has a Spanish option in the settings, currently priced free for a 30 day trial and then has the option to purchase through an in app purchase. They have exciting new updates in the works and should be releasing a full paid version of that app soon)
  • CanTunes (free, music choice boards, adapted means of accessing music on your iPad)
  • Choice Board Maker
  • Choice Boards
  • Communicate Easy
  • EESpeech Basic
  • Emergency Chat
  • Flip Writer AAC
  • 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)
  • 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)
  • MenuAssist
  • 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)
  • Quick Type AAC (bought it, a bargain for $1.99)
  • SoundingBoard (free)
  • 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)
  • TalkBoard Free
  • Talk For Me – Text to Speech
  • TapSpeak Button Plus (won it in a giveaway on PrAACtical AAC)
  • 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

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.
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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 8 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 subject to change as apps are updated with new features and other apps are released):

  • Avaz Pro
  • Clicker Communicator with PCS
  • Clicker Communicator with SymbolStix
  • GoTalk Now Plus
  • LAMP Words for Life
  • Proloquo2Go
  • 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.
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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. I have more great news! Jane Farrall has a fabulous website that she keeps updated with tons of info about the features in AAC apps. Check it out: http://www.janefarrall.com/aac-apps-lists/. You’ll see four links to different pages:

  • 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.
  • Additions and Updates (http://www.janefarrall.com/aac-apps-lists/additions-and-updates/). This is an ongoing list added to each time she updates the list.

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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. In the meantime, Jane’s website and asking questions in AAC related Facebook groups are your best bet.
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Funding

Funding: 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.ok.gov/abletech/SoonerCare_Provider_of_Speech_Generating_Devices.html.

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://abilityconnectionoklahoma.org/services-2/.

If you are in Oklahoma, also check out the AAC Funding Guide (last updated in 2013): https://www.ok.gov/abletech/Publications/OK_Funding_for_AT/

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: http://www.ataporg.org/states.html. Also can look on: http://www.resnaprojects.org/allcontacts/statewidecontacts.html. The AT Program in your state may also know of SLPs who do AAC evals and funding resources specific to your area.

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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:

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

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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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Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist
Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC – inclusive wellness & educational activities for kids of all abilities
Home E-Mail: amoorad1@juno.com
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Angela Moorad is the founder of OMazing Kids, LLC and is an ASHA certified & licensed pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and Kids Yoga Teacher with over 26 years experience working in a variety of settings (early intervention, schools, teletherapy & a nonprofit pediatric rehab hospital for children with developmental disabilities). She is an app beta tester for educational & therapeutic app developers and loves sharing info about great apps, products, books & toys to use with kids of all abilities.
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