Any speech-language pathologist (or parent, or caregiver) who works with an individual with articulation difficulties or verbal apraxia knows that it is extremely difficult to make one see how sounds are being made within the mouth. Showing a child (or adult) the position of your own articulators as you produce a target phoneme can be tiring especially if you need to shine a penlight inside AND you need to give instructions at the same time. While some of us have grown comfortable working with adults with verbal apraxia, showing one’s mouth to a client can at times feel a bit awkward.
Described to be the first of its kind, Pocket SLP‘s Speech Tutor does away with these problems and puts on your iDevice animations of a transparent oral peripheral mechanism showing the position of the articulators as these produce the phoneme you choose. The startup screen shows you news from PocketSLP, the series of SLP apps by Synapse Apps. Click Home and immediately the screen slides to show you the lateral (side) view of a semi-transparent oral peripheral mechanism rendered simple yet accurately enough to show the shadow of the teeth and the hard and soft palate. More pronounced is the position of the tongue and the lips at rest. A small square showing the current phoneme sits on the animation’s neck area.
There are eight buttons on the bottom of the screen, namely:
- Home: takes you to the lateral view and the News screen alternately
- Basics: offers non-SLPs a quick overview of sound production particularly Voice, Place, and Manner. The text describes for the layperson the meanings of terms such as stops, labiodental sounds, bilabial sounds, etc. and describes the importance of knowing the correct sound placements in order to teach the production of the correct phonemes. A general note addressed to the parents reminds that teaching should be fun and playful.
- Description: brings out a pop-up box containing information about the current phoneme:
- approximate age of emergence
- approximate age of mastery
- tips on how to elicit the phoneme
- Palate: brings out a pop-up box showing the point of contact (if any) in the hard or soft palate when producing the phoneme
- Phonemes: brings out a bar menu showing different phonemes:
- Options: allows one to select
- playback speed: slow, medium, fast
- perspective: side or frontal
- Record: allows one to record his/her own voice producing the target phoneme
What makes this app truly awesome:
- animations can be played back at different speeds: no one wants to learn how to produce a phoneme by watching a fast playback. This feature alone gets a lot of stars.
- crucial information a fingertip away: rather than dealing with flipping screens that show further information about a phoneme, this app made use of pop-up boxes, making sure you are never away from the main screen. Don’t want these boxes cluttering the screen? Tap at a button to tuck it away.
- customizable: the recording feature makes this app more personalized
What this app could have added:
- a link to bring the user to the other Pocket SLP apps (Articulation, Minimal Pairs) within the main screen to help tie up the activity to picture naming. But then again, this could also be accomplished by tapping the iDevice’s Home button twice and calling the app back up (assuming it’s running in the background).
Overall, Speech Tutor is definitely NOT an ordinary app. This is serious stuff meant to target specific difficulties yet was designed well enough to suit both pediatric and adult populations. With the correct adapter, the animations can be used as lecture material and shown via a projector. If there is one more app you MUST have in your iDevice, make sure this is it.
- articulation problems and motor speech disorders