Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP. Over 33 years experience in AAC. OMazing Kids AAC and app consulting. Creator of several AAC Feature Matching resources (https://omazingkidsllc.com/omazing-kids-aac-resource-links/). Includes info about unique features to support Gestalt Language Processors
Resource Update: The Basic Feature Chart for Affordable and Free AAC apps & AAC-Related Apps (iOS, Android Google Play, Amazon Fire, Windows + a few Web-Based options and Chromebook) has been updated (5/31/23).
This new FREE handout has info about how individuals can access a free trial of several robust AAC apps to try out on their own iPad, Android tablet, Amazon Fire tablet, or Windows tablet. Or use online.
If you are an SLP/SLT making funding/purchasing recommendations or another professional supporting AAC users and need ongoing access to robust AAC apps, see this blog post: AAC Test Drive & Getting Access to Robust AAC Apps,https://bit.ly/AACtestdrive. It has links to four FREE handouts with the details on how to get access to these apps.
Each app has its own minimum spec requirements. You can find those either in that app store or on the website where you download it.
Image ID: Screenshot of the cover image for this resource in my TPT (Teachers Pay Teachers) Store. Includes the icon for each app in the Apple App Store, the OMazing Kids logo and logos for TPT and Ko-fi. Date updated: 5/20/23.
For those asking about the the new Proloquo + Proloquo Coach app:
I have some info about them in this resource in the column about Proloquo2Go. I agree that Proloquo + Proloquo Coach is a great app but is missing some features to make it officially into the top 12. I was part of beta testing this app and have continued to provide feedback to AssistiveWare. Top of my list is the Proloquo app needs to allow editing of existing buttons to meet the cultural and religious identity of that individual. There have been a couple of discussions in AssistiveWare’s Proloquo and Proloquo Coach Community Facebook group about the need to allow flexibility in editing existing buttons. There’s also a need for being able to use recorded speech to get proper pronunciation of some names.https://www.facebook.com/groups/381836780082796/?ref=share&mibextid=S66gvF.
AAC apps that offer full support of Split View / Split Screen offer the opportunity for greater accessibility and access than AAC apps that don’t support this. Why does this matter?There are many adult AAC users who multitask with their tech. But this isn’t just a feature that benefits adults. Here is an example of how I’m using the Proloquo app by AssistiveWare alongside the Apple Books app with “A Day With No Words” by Tiffany Hammond (Fidgets and Fries). I also own a hardcover copy of this same book and loved it so much that I decided to purchase the ebook version in Apple Books to offer another means of access and use (both alongside AAC and separately).
My only “wish” is that iPad Accessibility – Spoken Content – Speak Screen was able to properly detect the text in picture books. I tried it in both Apple Books and the preview in the Kindle for iPad app. Both weren’t able to perceive the text separately from the gorgeous illustrations. Which I wouldn’t trade the stylized text in this book for that. I just wish there was something behind the scenes that made this type of text accessible. (Hey Apple & Amazon Kindle if you happen to read this… please make it so.)
The perfect companion to supplement these in-depth resources are the “AAC Apps and Features At-a-Glance (Single Page Handouts)”: https://bit.ly/AAC-At-a-Glance
Excited to discover that there’s a way to do Split View on my Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite tablet. This is the Android version of Avaz alongside “A Day With No Words” by Tiffany Hammond (Fidgets and Fries).
Guess what… there’s a way to do Split Screen on an Amazon Fire tablet too. This is the CoreVoice app. Be watching for a video tutorial soon 🎦
This feature matching resource includes information about the following options:
• CoughDrop – Sequoia board set – multi platform
• PODD for Grid for iPad
• simPODD – iPad
• TD Snap PODD – iPad
• Voco Chat in Grid for iPad
• PODD for Grid 3 – Windows
• PODD for Mind Express 5 – Windows
• TD Snap PODD – Windows
• Voco Chat in Grid 3 – Windows
There are 122 rows in the chart. But it’s super easy to use the “search” option to find what you want quickly.
This resource includes free access to over 3 hours of unlisted YouTube videos where I highlight some of the most unique features in each option and discuss the flexibility in customization, options for alternative access, etc…
Why this might be helpful to you is I have done all the heavy lifting of digging through websites and deep into app settings, testing everything out extensively and then distilling all that info into one PDF with all of the features that you’d need to compare all of these options.
This is a VERY deep dive beyond just vocabulary organization… it’s also an in depth look at the flexibility or limitations of the app platforms, customization and alternative access options plus includes detailed info about three different Bluetooth switch interfaces (Blue2, iSwitch & Cosmo).
You can search to find exactly what you’re looking for and can copy wording from this chart and paste it into your AAC reports to save time.
** All info is comprehensive, 100% up to date and verified by app developers **
I will be maintaining and updating this chart to help meet the need for current and comprehensive info to be used in feature matching.
Includes info about features in these particular apps that may be helpful as folks are exploring ways to modify AAC for Gestalt Language Processors.
Did you know that several AAC apps have a way to add sign language symbols and some have a way to play an ASL video or GIF? It’s cool to have these options to meet very unique needs.
As with anything that I share… there is no “one size fits all” to AAC. Some individuals may prefer just to sign and might use text messaging or hand writing when communicating with those who don’t know sign language. For those who want to use AAC, some users may prefer the regular symbols in that AAC system, some may prefer text-based AAC, some may prefer that ASL letter symbols be added to a keyboard, some may prefer GIFs or videos of signs, some may prefer static pics of signs, some may prefer a combination of options, etc…
So it is very important to include that individual in deciding what may be helpful for them.
This post is purely just to share info about options. I’m in the unique position of having access not just to almost every AAC app but also various extra symbol sets within them. I feel compelled to share info about what I’m able to find in these apps since that often isn’t fully documented in the description in the App Store or on the various companies’ websites.
Note: Most apps allow you to import pics from your Camera Roll. I often take a screenshot of a symbol that I may need and use it in another app. Most AAC apps also offer a way for folks to share things that they have customized directly with another person via AirDrop, email, DropBox, Google Drive, etc…
My focus in this post is on AAC apps that offer sign language symbols as part of their built in (or an add on) symbol library or offer a way to play ASL videos or GIFs and/or offer a way to download premade boards from a website or public online sharing area. This post is primarily about iOS apps but a few are available on other platforms (Android and/or Windows)
AAC apps are constantly changing as new features are added. The info was accurate at the time of this post. I may occasionally update it in the future.
I did not notice any sign language symbols when editing in the iOS or Android versions of this app. This seemed odd since I know that other apps that use SymbolStix have some. But the way that you have to tap to see individual symbols vs. being able to scroll through a large list made it more time consuming to look. So it’s possible that I just didn’t find them. The keyboard buttons are not editable and this app doesn’t offer a way to link a button to play an ASL video saved on that device.
Update 2/10/23: Avaz now has a way to add a GIF to a button. See their video above ⬆️ . I almost always edit Avaz on my iPad vs. iPhone. I couldn’t find a way to save a GIF to my Camera Roll while on the GIPHY website via the Safari browser but was able to save when using the GIPHY app on my iPad. See my video below ⬇️
Sign language symbols are available when editing but neither seemed to be as complete of a library as I had seen in other apps that use these symbol sets. I did not find anything in their Learning Grids sharing area related to ASL or sign language. The keyboard buttons are not editable and this app doesn’t offer a way to link a button to play an ASL video saved on that device.
CoughDrop can be used on almost any device on almost any platform. It has a unique built in option to include GIPHY ASL sign GIFs when searching for symbols while editing. You can search out in their Find a Board area to see examples of how other folks have used this: https://app.mycoughdrop.com/search/any/ASL. I found it visually overstimulating to have several ASL GIF videos playing simultaneously on a page so please keep that in mind when considering this option.
For those who purchase the SymbolStix add-on that allows SymbolStix sign language symbols to be available when editing. What’s interesting is the PCS symbol add-on did not appear to include PCS Sign Language symbols. I searched for several but didn’t find them. It’s possible that I might have overlooked them. The keyboard page is editable. This app doesn’t offer a way to link a button to play an ASL video saved on that device.
GoTalk Now Plus
GoTalk Now Plus includes the SymbolStix symbol library. When editing this includes access to the SymbolStix sign language symbols. This app offers several different PCS symbol add-ons but PCS Sign Language symbols isn’t one of the options. They also offer a METACOM symbols add-on but I don’t have that so I don’t know whether or not that includes the METACOM sign language symbols.
GoTalk Now Plus is unique in allowing you to have several symbols and/or photos on one button. You can program the button to play a video stored on that iPad. This would allow you to link buttons to sign language video clips. Sign language GIFs could be use if those were converted into videos. This iPad-only app uses the iOS device keyboard. Unfortunately I haven’t found an iOS alternative keyboard that is still available that offers the ASL alphabet symbols on the keys.
Grid for iPad / Grid 3
The SymbolStix library includes the SymbolStix sign language symbols when editing. This app also has PCS symbols but that didn’t appear to include the PCS Sign Language symbols.
I searched the Online Grids sharing area and found an ASL Letter Explorer & Text Writer grid set available for download: https://grids.thinksmartbox.com/en/tt-9/98e8ea32-146c-4554-b482-3988248bf294. It is in QWERTY layout and includes word prediction. I adjusted the settings to just have text show up on the word prediction. If you want to have symbol supported word prediction you will need to adjust the font size and type of symbols to allow the symbols to be large enough to be recognizable.
Grid 3 on a Windows device supports use of a button command to play a video saved on that device and there is a Music and Videos grid set available for download from Online Grids. But I haven’t figured out whether or not it’s possible to program a button in one of the symbol-based AAC grid sets to pop up to play a video and then snap back to that page (vs. having it navigate to the separate Music and Videos grid set). The ability to do that would be helpful for being able to link an ASL sign language video to a specific button in an AAC grid set (like I was able to do in GoTalk Now, TouchChat with WordPower & Niki Talk 2 Pro). I’ll update this section if I figure out a way to do this. Unfortunately playing a video isn’t available as an option on Grid for iPad.
LAMP Words for Life
This iPad-only app has its own multi-meaning symbols that are an integral part of the design. It doesn’t include sign language symbols and doesn’t offer a way to link a button to play an ASL video saved on that device. LAMP Words for Life is also available on the company’s SGDs. It is been quite awhile since I’ve used one of those so I’m not sure if it would offer any features related to this.
Mind Express 5
Mind Express 5 software can be used on Windows devices. The SymbolStix symbol library includes the SymbolStix sign language symbols. A PCS symbol library is available but I didn’t see any PCS sign language symbols when editing. METACOM symbols appear to be available as an add on but I don’t have that symbol library so I don’t know if it includes the METACOM sign language symbols.
It is possible to program buttons to play an ASL sign video or GIF in a popup but it requires some knowledge of advanced programming. I’m still learning the ME5 software so I was very appreciative of Fio Quinn sharing her expertise in a couple of tutorial videos that she made and shared with me. Be watching for more info about Mind Express 5 in an upcoming resource. I’ve been very impressed by how many options that it offers in customizing to meet very specific needs.
This app uses ARASAAC symbols & Les Pictogrammes symbols. I didn’t see sign language symbols in either within the app. But the app does offer the option to program a button to play a video from the iPad Camera Roll. This would allow you to link a button to play an ASL video. This iPad-only app uses the iOS device keyboard. Unfortunately I haven’t found an iOS alternative keyboard that is still available that offers the ASL alphabet symbols on the keys.
Although this iOS Universal app uses SymbolStix I didn’t find SymbolStix sign language symbols when editing. It doesn’t offer a way to link a button to play an ASL video saved on that device.
The SymbolStix library includes the SymbolStix sign language symbols when editing. The keyboard area is not editable. This iOS Universal app can also use the iOS device keyboard but I haven’t found an iOS alternative keyboard that is still available that offers the ASL alphabet symbols on the keys. It doesn’t offer a way to link a button to play an ASL video saved on that device.
Although this iPad-only app uses SymbolStix I didn’t find SymbolStix sign language symbols when editing. It doesn’t offer a way to link a button to play an ASL video saved on that device.
Speak for Yourself
This app uses Smarty Symbols. I didn’t see any sign language symbols included in that library. It doesn’t offer a way to link a button to play an ASL video saved on that device. This iOS Universal app uses the iOS device keyboard. Unfortunately I haven’t found an iOS alternative keyboard that is still available that offers the ASL alphabet symbols on the keys.
Talk Suite Pro
This app uses their own unique Persona symbols. I didn’t see any sign language symbols included in that library. It doesn’t offer a way to link a button to play an ASL video saved on that device. The app’s keyboard can’t be edited to add ASL symbols. This iPad-only app also uses the iOS device keyboard. Unfortunately I haven’t found an iOS alternative keyboard that is still available that offers the ASL alphabet symbols on the keys.
TD Snap AAC
This app is available for the iPad and Windows devices. When editing you can have access to the PCS Sign Language symbol library. These appear to be a mix of American Sign Language and Signed Exact English symbols. You’ll need to make sure you have downloaded it and you can drag it to the top of the symbols list if you want to prioritize those symbols coming up first in a search. They also offer METACOM symbols as an add-on via in-app purchase. That includes sign language symbols. I wasn’t able to find details about these but METACOM symbols were designed in and are primarily used in Germany so these might be German Sign Language.
I checked all of the various pagesets including the add-ones for PODD and Gateway. The PCS Sign Language symbols and METACOM symbols (if purchased) were available when editing regardless of the pageset.
Neither version of TD Snap offers a way to link a button to play an ASL video saved on that device.
When I searched on Pageset Central these two things came up that folks created with sign language symbols and shared:
It includes an Alphabet and Numbers page with ASL symbols on the buttons. The Keyboard is a regular QWERTY keyboard.
Core Words ASL (just a page… not a full Pageset. So I imported it and added it within Eli’s ASL Pageset): http://bit.ly/3RjXmo1
In order to get these from Pageset Central you need to have a MyTobiiDynavox account (https://www.mytobiidynavox.com), sign into it, and then find these two things in Pageset Central (these the direct links above) and tap “Add to My Stuff” to add it to your MyTobiiDynavox account. Then while in TD Snap you’ll be able to create a new User with the Eli’s ASL Pageset:
TouchChat with WordPower
When editing this iOS Universal app you’ll have access to two different sign language SymbolStix symbol libraries: American Sign Language & Australian Sign Language.
TouchChat with WordPower also offers the option to link a button to play a video stored on that device. This video shows that being used to play an ASL sign language video. For multiple meaning words with different signs depending on the context you could link to a page that provides a button for each.
The same pageset options may be available in the company’s line of SGDs but it has been awhile since I’ve used those so I don’t know how the features may vary on those.
Twinkl Symbols for AAC
Twinkl Symbols for AAC is an iOS Universal app that includes British Sign Language symbols (BSL). The Type 2 Talk keyboard area in this app uses the iOS device keyboard. Unfortunately I haven’t found an iOS alternative keyboard that is still available that offers the ASL alphabet symbols on the keys.
The very affordable simple Verbal Me app offers several different premade sign language boards within the app + the option to create custom pages that can include short videos. I’ve used this as a way to create a simple board with ASL videos. https://apps.apple.com/us/app/verbal-me/id495853688
ALICE with ASL & Text
Pre-recorded content is available in spoken English with ASL or English subtitles allowing users to choose the communication mode they feel most comfortable with. It’s easy for users to find their desired messages quickly with the organized and categorized library of content and search function. The app includes over 30 common general and medical phrases with interactive responses – over 130 unique videos are included in this app. Users choose a phrase they want to communicate and play the video for the other person. Depending on the video content, either person can choose a response. Some additional communication may be prompted via other means – paper/pen, speaking or gesturing. More info: https://access.llc/alice-app/. ALICE with ASL & Text, https://apps.apple.com/app/id1467049575 (iOS Universal)
I did a screen recording of the introduction within the app since I couldn’t find any videos of it online:
Unfortunately the unique Sign2TXT AAC app with sign language symbols by Angie Craft (https://appsto.re/us/NJMz0.i) disappeared from the App Store a few years ago (even gone from the Purchased area). See the website for more info: http://www.handcraftedasl.com/sign2txt/. You can also see it archived on AppAdvice: https://appadvice.com/app/sign2txt/879126759. I had a couple of Deaf students/patients/clients who did really well with that app. The ability to search for signs by hand shape was very unique. I’m including it in this post in the hopes that the app eventually returns or that this might inspire another app developer to create something or existing app developers to add similar capabilities to their AAC apps.
Have a question, found a broken link or know of another AAC option that includes sign language symbols or can support use of ASL videos or GIFs? The best way to reach me is via Facebook messaging over on my OMazing Kids page: https://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsAAC/
This video shows two phonics sounds keyboards that I added to my Motor Plan 66 pageset in the TD Snap AAC app:
As you’ll see in my video, the Motor Plan 66 pageset already includes a regular QWERTY style keyboard where you can hear letter names as you type. Toggle that on under Edit – User – Preferences – Speak Characters. If you don’t want letters spoken as you type that’s where you can toggle that off.
Note: I am well aware that some folks have a very rigid “anti-phonics keyboard” stance. If this is you then don’t add this to your pageset and scroll on by. I am well aware that there are lots of other strategies needed to teach literacy skills to individuals with complex communication needs. If you need more info about that I suggest reading “Comprehensive Literacy for All” and joining the “Comprehensive Literacy for All BookStudy” group on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/cl4all. I am sharing these Phonics keyboards as a tool since I personally had LOTS of students/patients/clients who had a high interest in letters, letter names, letter sounds, playing with rhyming, etc. Many of them were likely hyperlexic. I also had several who were Autistic and had a passion for anything letter related. Some were likely Gestalt Language Processors and seemed to really enjoy the playing with letter sounds related to their gestalts/scripts. Having this type of keyboard in an app resonated with them and sparked interest in using their AAC system. Providing this type of option also gave school staff something that helped them include these students in phonics activities and sparked them becoming more comfortable using an AAC app. A win-win in my book. So now that the “why” is made clear onto the “how”…
I’m on my iPad in the video but also have this synced with this app on my Windows tablet. I show how to find these on Pageset Central, where I linked mine in the TD Snap Motor Plan 66 Dashboard area, how to import a page to link it to a button, etc… I used Emily Miller’s Jolly Phonics Keyboard (https://www.mytobiidynavox.com/psc/snapcorefirst/139396) as a starting point, edited to add more and did additional voice recordings.
I uploaded a text only version & a version that includes the Jolly Phonics pictures (but could easily be edited to use pictures associated with whatever phonics program your school uses).
These are both FREE downloads via Pageset Central on MyTobiiDynavox:
• Version with Jolly Phonics pictures:https://www.mytobiidynavox.com/psc/snapcorefirst/296365 (note: I show in the video how you can delete those pictures and add you own pics to correspond with whatever phonics program is being used. Some kids liked having phonics pictures. Some didn’t. Choose the option that resonates with them)
How to find and add the new USA Motor Plan Pagesets in TD Snap. These are a new option in addition to the other pagesets (not replacing anything). These are included with TD Snap (no additional cost). Make sure you have updated TD Snap to version 1.25. These are currently available for USA English & UK English. They indicated that they are working on prioritizing development for other languages and a Spanish/English bilingual version but no specific details are known yet on the timeframes.
Tobii Dynavox has been offering free live webinars specifically about this new pageset option. See their website for more info: https://us.tobiidynavox.com/blogs/live-training. During the one that I attended on Friday (1/27/23) they mentioned that the recording of it would be uploaded to their Learning Hub. I’ll add the link here when it’s available: <link to be added>
My TD Snap related resources:
TD Snap: a visual guide to getting started: https://bit.ly/3qRuXdQ (I’ll be updating this soon to add info about the new Motor Plan pageset options)