June – Journey through the rabbit hole of AAC apps
In May , Proloquo2go (P2G) was scheduled to release a major update, so we thought this would be a perfect topic for our June e-publication. When the update was delayed until mid-June, it clashed right into one of the most hectic times of the year. School wrap up also meant that Amanda was transitioning from her position in the school district to take on more at iEmpowerU since our inbox is overflowing! Sadly our writing took a back burner and June plans became July. Then as we prepared to write we realized we couldn’t have a discussion about P2G without also talking about Touch Chat. It then became clear that because each of us is more familiar with one of the two AAC apps, we needed to step out of our comfort zone and learn the other app! As we became more comfortable with each of the apps, and went through the process of teaching each other, we had some lively conversations!
Sarah explained our position so well:
One of the benefits of the iEmpowerU partnership is our diverse backgrounds. We are able to see the whole picture because we work together closely and recognize each others strengths. When we started iEmpowerU it was evident that our experience in the world of using iDevices as Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices also varied. Amanda’s knowledge came from her experience working with individuals with autism in the school system and in their homes while Sarah had a background with adults who have communication impairments and often use technology as an alternative means of communication.
There are so many reasons that an iDevice is a great piece of technology for some people with communication impairments, and many reasons why it may not be the perfect solution for everyone. An iDevice is portable, widely available, ‘cool’, relatively affordable, and many find it easy to use and intuitive. Not to mention that it can do so much more than just address an individual’s communication needs – you can work on many skills and address many challenges through the use of different apps on the iPad. This is why we love iDevices and one of the reasons that we started a business that would support people who want to be able to use an iDevice to the best of their abilities.
We recognize that for some people an iDevice is not the solution, or that they may be at a starting point with their iDevice and they don’t yet have the skills to use it for AAC. It’s so important to trial it, to set goals around when and how it will be used, and to make sure that everyone is on the same page – there will be some work involved, so define who will do that work. Research the options and consult with people who have experience and knowledge before jumping in with both feet. If an individual is not able to use an iDevice because they can’t touch the screen properly; they can’t attend to it; they would be too rough on it, or it wouldn’t meet their needs then DON’T GET ONE in hopes that they’ll figure it out. WAIT until they’re able to use it successfully, or look at the other technology options that may be available.
OK – now all of that being said our backgrounds allow us to have a very in-depth understanding of two widely used AAC apps and we are going to share some thoughts about these two apps.
So first in case you are not familiar with either, here is a bit of information and the iTunes links.
-probably the most identifiable AAC app because of its early arrival on the scene and some pretty fantastic marketing, not to mention the widely publicized stories of individuals being able to use it very successfully to communicate.
-a much later arrival makes this app less of a household name but it’s approval by Speech Language Pathologists means that many people who are supported by SLPs use this app more often. It is definitely growing in popularity because of some really unique features and more language-friendly vocabulary organization.
So now knowing what we know, how do we chose which app to recommend? P2G or TouchChat?
To keep us on our toes there are more high quality AAC apps coming on the market all the time! Speech Tree is one we hope to get our hands on shortly. And in Seattle at ABAI Amanda had a chance to try out the beta version that Pyramid, the people who made the PECS program, are releasing later this summer (hopefully!). Their app Working 4, gives a small taste of the images of this new app, which starts at Phase 2 of the PECs program. For those transitioning from a Velcro binder, this may be just what they need.
There are a lot of choices out there! If you are feeling overwhelmed, that’s what we are here for 🙂
We hope you find the June edition of our e-publication full of helpful information – we learned a lot through the process too!
As always please do comment or email us with any questions or suggestions for future publications.
Amanda and Sarah