Even when choosing free or affordable AAC apps you’ll want to consider the features that will best match that individual’s needs. This list is not intended to imply that a free or inexpensive AAC app is always a good idea. An app that may be fine for short term use following a surgery or during a bout of laryngitis may not have the features needed for efficient longer term AAC use. Many of these apps have unique features that could be a helpful addition to an AAC user’s communication toolbox. Many AAC users pick and choose what communication tool best suits a situation.
- Free (some have IAPs, none include ads): 5
- Affordable ($1.99 to $14.99): 5
- Prices, availability & device/iOS compatibility were all checked in the USA App Store and website links were all working at the time this post was written (9:00pm CST on 6/11/20). Prices may vary outside the USA based on the exchange rate.
- Screenshots and descriptions are based on features available at the time of this post. AAC apps change frequently as updates are released.
- Some apps have IAPs (in app purchases) for additional features. So after you have installed those apps and purchased anything that you wanted be sure to adjust the settings on your iPad to prevent unintended purchases.
- Some of these apps may not be available for download on your device if you are not running the minimum required iOS.
- Most of the apps on this list are “iOS Universal”. Those can be used on an iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch. But you’ll need to consider vision and fine motor skills when using them on smaller devices.
- Some have an Android version available. I don’t know how well they work on that platform since I don’t own any Android devices but sharing in case you do and want to take a look at them.
- The app developer website links are included so you can read more about the features. Many also have the story behind why that app was developed. I love reading those stories 💕
Top 10 Free and Affordable iOS Text to Speech AAC apps:
1. Talk For Me – Text to Speech by Darrin Altman, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/talk-for-me-text-to-speech/id975096888, iOS Universal, iOS 11.0 or later (but an older version can be downloaded if you previously got the app), FREE. Nice combo of typing & phrase buttons. You can save messages in the Archive and can customize several pages of phrase buttons. This was my “go to” app to use when I lost my voice but still needed to provide SLP services. More info about the features: https://www.mobiletouchtech.com/talk-for-me
2. ClaroCom by Claro Software Limited, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/clarocom/id903818521, iOS Universal, iOS 9.0 or later, FREE. Nice combo of typing & phrase buttons. Phrases can be edited and are organized by scrollable lists in categories. Lots of setting options. There is a paid version for $16.99 with more features. More info about the features: https://www.claro-apps.com/portfolio/clarocom/
3. Speech Assistant AAC by Ton Schalke, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/speech-assistant-aac/id1139762358, iOS Universal, iOS 10.0 or later, $14.99. Nice combo of typing & phrase buttons organized by categories. Edit by “long press”. Drag & drop to reorder phrase buttons. There are lots of customization options & programming can be backed up via iCloud, e-mail and AirDrop. Definitely worth the price. More info about the features: https://www.a-soft.nl. They also have a switch capable version for $15.99. Android version (with very basic features): https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=nl.asoft.speechassistant&hl=en
4. Quick Type AAC by Digital Scribbler, Inc, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/quick-type-aac/id818079924, iOS Universal, iOS 9.0 or later, $1.99. Just typing (no phrase buttons). Has several voices and setting options, word prediction and a nice large pop up Yes/No button. Definitely worth the price. More info about the features: https://digitalscribbler.com/quick-type-aac/. Android version: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.digitalscribbler.quicktype&hl=en
5. HandySpeech by Eric Zeiberg, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/handyspeech/id563600464, iOS Universal, iOS 8.2 or later, $2.99. Unique combo of handwriting to text to speech, also can type. Can save phrases and delete them but they can’t be edited, re-ordered or organized into categories. You can create shorthand shortcuts. Helpful for those who find writing easier than typing but still want voice output. It has very good handwriting recognition even when using your finger instead of a stylus. Definitely worth the price. More info about the features: http://www.ispeak4u.com
6. MyVoice – Tap or Type to Talk by John Ciocca, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/myvoice-tap-or-type-to-talk/id1111359925, iOS Universal, iOS 11 or later. $5.99. Unique combo of typing text to speech and handwriting to text to speech. Also has a Picture Talk section that has phrases with icons saved in categories. You can add your own custom phrases with pictures and that is synced in iCloud across devices on the same account. You can delete customized items but they can’t be edited, re-ordered or organized into categories. Additional assistive technology features include: Read Talk (uses OCR technology to take a picture, scan the text and read it aloud), Look Talk (use the camera to recognize an item and name it aloud – works best when there is only one item in view and you are close to it), Mirror Talk (I could see SLPs using that with adults post-stroke) and Word Talk (a random written word appears on the screen for the user to practice). Definitely worth the price. Read a feature story about the app developer in the App Store: https://apps.apple.com/us/story/id1437330451.
7. Text to Speech App by Georgi Zlatinov, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/text-to-speech-app/id1217484042, iOS Universal, iOS 10.0 or later, $1.99. Primarily designed to paste in text and have it read aloud but can also use as a Text to Speech app for AAC. The text is highlighted in red as it is read. It uses the iOS keyboard so you have the option of using keyboard extension apps on an iPad. Nice simple interface. Worth the price. You’ll need to read the description of features in the description for this app on the App Store since the app developer’s website doesn’t contain that info.
8. Text to speech – Talkie by Arctic Oudshoorn, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/text-to-speech-talkie/id1156128552, iOS Universal (iOS 12.0 or later) & Apple Watch (watchOS 5.0 or later), FREE. Unique combo of text to speech, save messages on buttons & a whiteboard. The “save to buttons” part of the app was a little glitchy. Worked best on my iPhone but that may have been due to it being on iOS 13.4.1 vs my iPad Mini 2 being on iOS 12.4.7. More info about the features: https://www.talkie-app.com. Android version: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=nl.tribble.talkie
9. Verbally by Intuary, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/verbally/id418671377, iPad only, iOS 8.0 or later, FREE. The voices in the free version are a little robotic but there are some options for keyboard placements. It uses it’s own keyboard so keyboard extension apps cannot be used with this app. There is a paid version with more features but it is pretty expensive ($99.99). More info about the features: http://verballyapp.com
10. AAC Bestie Text to Speech by Elephant Enterprises LLC, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/aac-bestie-text-to-speech/id1391136811, iOS Universal, iOS 11.0 or later, FREE with IAP for additional features. Requires a subscription if you want to customize any of the phrase folders, access more pre-stored phrase folders, backup / restore programming. Website with contact form if you have questions about features: https://www.aacbestie.com/hi
This customizable iPad Text to Speech AAC app is FREE:
PAROL+ by Les Applications C, Inc, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/parol/id1477060497. More info: http://parol-aac.com/en/home/
Honorable Mention: SayIt! – speak your mind by Owen McGirr, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/sayit-speak-your-mind/id1119303404, iOS Universal, iOS 11.0 or later, FREE. The limit of 14 characters (including spaces) means you can at least check it out for free but it wouldn’t really be functional for communication unless you purchase the IAP for a subscription or one time purchase to fully unlock the app for $17.99. More info about the features: http://enaboapps.com/sayit/. Has several settings options and offers switch access & scanning. It uses it’s own keyboard so keyboard extension apps cannot be used with this app. There are several unsecured links in this app.
Unless otherwise indicated, the apps on the list above use the native iOS keyboard. When using those apps on an iPad, you may want to look at a variety of keyboard extension apps. Exploring alternative keyboards can be a game changer for making typing as a means of AAC accessible. Those apps would require a separate purchase. Scroll down to that section on this blog post: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2020/05/17/ios-apps-for-early-exploration-of-typing-specialized-keyboards-compiled-by-angela-moorad-ms-ccc-slp-founder-of-omazing-kids/. A couple are specifically for kids but the rest would be helpful for a wide range of ages.
And three free Text to Speech AAC apps primarily designed for use via head tracking:
- Vocable AAC by WillowRoot Apps, LLC., https://apps.apple.com/us/app/vocable-aac/id1497040547, iOS Universal, iOS 13.0 or later, FREE. Unique combo of typing via touch or head tracking. Primarily sharing it so folks who may need head tracking will know about it. Unfortunately I don’t have an iPad running iOS 13 so I was only able to try it out on my iPhone. I liked the phrase buttons but found the keyboard part cumbersome to use via touch. Head tracking is limited to very specific devices and I don’t have any of them to be able to try that out. More info about the features and a list of compatible devices: https://www.vocable.app. Android version: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.willowtree.vocable
- Sesame Talking Keyboard by Sesame Enable, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/sesame-talking-keyboard/id1478544364, iOS Universal, iOS 9.0 or later. FREE. Unique combo of typing via touch or head tracking. Primarily sharing it so folks who may need head tracking will know about it. I tried out head tracking and it would take some practice to get good at typing with it but it is cool that it didn’t require such specific devices. More info about the features: https://www.sesame-enable.com
- Jabberwocky AAC by Swiftable LLC, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/jabberwocky-aac/id1438561966, iOS Universal, iOS 12.0 or later, FREE. Unique combo of typing via touch or head tracking. However head tracking is limited to very specific devices and the keyboard is specifically designed for head tracking (I found it difficult to use via touch and don’t have any of the specific devices needed to try out the head tracking). Primarily sharing it so folks who may need head tracking will know about it. More info about the features: https://www.jabberwockyapp.com/aac
There are several more expensive text to speech AAC apps with robust features. If you are considering those, I highly suggest an evaluation, feature match process & trial of options before purchasing or making purchasing recommendations.
How to find the AT Lending Library in your state: https://www.at3center.net/stateprogram. Many have iPads with AAC apps on them available for short term loan to help with the eval process. But you’ll need to check to see if yours is open and still loaning equipment out during the pandemic.
Another option for SLPs is to see this post for tips on how you can get free access to AAC apps, AAC app user groups, funding options & more: https://omazingkidsllc.com/2016/06/11/aac-tips-how-slps-can-get-free-access-to-aac-apps-aac-app-user-groups-funding-options-more/
Want to suggest an iOS text to speech AAC app to be added to this list? The best way to reach me is via Facebook messaging over on my OMazing Kids page. I’m pretty picky so they need to be well designed apps and be transparent/honest about any IAPs or subscriptions and not have any ads. If it’s a free app, please send the link from the USA App Store so I can download and try it out. If it’s a paid app that’s priced at $14.99 or less in the USA App Store and you are the app developer, please send the link from the USA App Store so I can look at the info before you send a promo code. I want to make sure that one of my iPads is compatible in order to try it out.
It took me quite a bit of time to compile this list so please “tag” or mention OMazing Kids when sharing it on social media and do not copy/paste it onto other blogs or documents or upload it to servers. I have it available here on my blog and plan on keeping my blog up for the foreseable future.
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.
Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP, Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC OMazing Kids AAC Consulting
Personal Professional Facebook Page (linked to OMazing Kids): https://www.facebook.com/angela.moorad (adding “friends” who have a direct role in AAC or Assistive Technology – AAC / AT app or product developers, AAC / AT consultants, SLPs who specialize in AAC, other professionals who specialize in AAC or AT, etc.)
OMazing Kids Business Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsAAC/
AppPeeps Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OMazingKidsAppPeeps/