Naming TherAppy raises word retrieval apps to a whole new level

Following the success of Tactus Therapy Solutions’ Comprehension TherAppy is their latest creation:  Naming TherAppy, designed to facilitate word retrieval among children and adults who have word recall difficulties.  It felt like a mini-Christmas morning that day we finally downloaded the app and ran it.

Anybody who’s downloaded and used Comprehension TherAppy (if you haven’t, we highly recommend you do) will be greeted by the familiar Tactus Therapy icon, but this time, with a yellow-orange theme.  The home screen was easy on the eyes:  clean, simple, straight-to-the-point.  Four modes grace the home screen:  Naming Practice, Describe, Naming Test, and Flashcards.  The upper right corner is taken by the Settings button which will allow you to choose your desired number of trials, the email address to which you want results to be sent, and the Child-Friendly toggle button which takes out pictures that contain alcohol, violence, and adult themes.  The upper left corner holds the Info button and contains the basic instructions the user needs in order to use the app.

Just as what we did with its older sibling, we used Naming TherAppy with a number of our adult and kid clients.  Using either a Belkin Flipblade iPad Stand (which is compact enough to be packed in a Pacsafe Metrosafe 200, Citysafe 100 or a full Slingsafe 300 when we went to our home-visit adult clients) or a basic wooden bookstand when we were with our kids, it gave us a delicious feeling that we did a lot of good just by NOT carrying 500+ actual picture cards and instead showed them in big, bright colors using an iPad 2.

We did not exaggerate when we said Naming TherAppy raised word retrieval apps to a whole new level.  It did.  It also raised our expectations after we’ve experienced using its older brother at therapy.

What makes this app awesome:

  • twice the memory bulk but no performance lag:  this app packed 27.2 mb worth of data, which is reasonable given that it had many more voice cues built in.  Never did that extra data layer slow it down.  Every button responded in a timely fashion, every voice cue played the moment it was called for.  All these without us not needing to shut down the other apps that ran in our iPad 2’s background.
  • a clean user interface:  which is becoming to be what Tactus Therapy Solutions are known for, in our opinion.  Present are the Home button, Correct and Incorrect Responses indicators, and Progress Bar
  • appropriate sounds, sufficiently loud easy-on-the-ear male voice:  a small ding signals a correct answer, a discreet thunk for an incorrect one.  A male North American English accented voice was used to deliver cues and questions, and it was loud enough to be heard via the iPad 2’s built-in speakers and within a relatively quiet room.
  • beautifully-sized pictures:  since this is after all an app for picture naming, pictures were presented one at a time.  Each picture made good use of all that screen real estate, with sharp colors and well-defined lines
  • adequately-sized letter fonts for letter and written cues:  these were not so big that it grabbed too much of our clients’ visual attention, nor too small that it made them squint
The AWESOMER features that made our colleagues go “ooooooh”
  • 500+ pictures makes a powerhouse app:  pretty much guarantees any user at least 500 Likes in Go Green Heaven… imagine:  no more time wasted going through and selecting pictures, no more unwieldy stacks, bye-bye frayed edges and broken rubber bands.
  • you can choose your category stacks in Categories:  this option is available for Naming Practice, Describe and Flashcards. There are 10 categories to choose from.  Check the box to choose your desired categories and the app will mix them for you and present these pictures randomly:
    • animals
    • body parts
    • clothing
    • concepts
    • food
    • furnishings
    • objects
    • people
    • places
    • sports
  • Naming Practice lets one use a cueing hierarchy for all 400+ pictures:  I have yet to see an app that actually USES a cueing hierarchy, backed by evidence on treatment techniques to boot.  One can opt to score the responses as correct or incorrect, or just proceed to the next picture using an arrow button.
    • Description:  plays a short definition and works as a semantic cue
    • First Letter:  shows the first letter of the target word
    • Whole Word/Written Word cue:  shows the complete written word above the picture
    • Phrase completion:  plays a phrase that the client can complete by supplying the target word
    • First Sound/Phonemic cue:  plays the first sound of the target word
    • Repetition:  plays the entire spoke word for the client to repeat
  • Describe takes this app’s activities up another level and drives concept learning (or re-learning, in fact) home with a mighty thunk of a virtual hammer via semantic feature analysis:  This activity boasts 460+ pictures with 4-6 question prompts, with each prompt programmed to be appropriate to the picture currently being shown.  For example, a picture of a huge, juicy, chunky sandwich is surrounded by 6 question prompt buttons.  Tap on each and the following will play:
    • “What does it look like?”
    • “What does it taste like?”
    • “Where do you find it?”
    • “What type of thing is it?”
    • “How big is it?”
    • “What is it made of?”

In other words, the sandwich picture definitely won’t have buttons that will ask “What is it used for?” or “What color is it?” The Describe Mode offers questions based on semantic properties such as location, function, smell, color, texture, appearance, shape, size, person, time, sound, taste, sound, category, and association.

  • the app comes with a non-standardized Naming Test which presents 30 pictures–a mix of common and uncommon pictures from the app’s categories: Use this with a client and it ends with a score and a report.  This may be used as a quick screening tool and a means to measure progress.  However, if a client is able to name all 30 pictures in the Test, he/she may not gain much from using the app since their naming skills may be functioning above what the app is designed to target.
  • the Flashcards mode can show as many as 500+ pictures.  One can tap on the picture to hear its label.  This mode does not come with all those buttons that Naming Practice and Describe had, thus no prompts are offered.
A couple more additions attest to the care that went into designing this app:
  • Child-Friendly Mode:  since the app can be used with children, flipping this mode to On removes pictures such as a bomb, gun, beer, bra, a bar.  Very, very nice.
  • Scoring a response as correct or incorrect is not mandatory:  tagging a picture as correctly named or not is completely within the clinician’s discretion.  One can choose to forward to the next picture without necessarily scoring the present picture as correctly named or not.  This flexibility, at least, in our opinion, is very much appreciated.
There were two things that got us wondering, however:
  • the prompt buttons that surrounded each picture may be a bit too big and could be distracting for some individuals:  the pictures’ size, color and clarity however appeared to compensate for the buttons’ presence.  We surmised that since the app is designed to be used by adult clients on their own, scaling the buttons to a smaller size might compromise their user-friendliness.
  • the phrase completion cues were designed for North Americans:  the developers admitted that it was hard to create the phrase completion cues, and invariably such situations call for some narrowing down.  In this app’s case, since most of Tactus Therapy Solutions’ sales were made in North America, the target audience are North Americans. Nonetheless, the app has lots of room for clinician creativity.  One need not use the phrase completion cues and culturally-appropriate ones can be verbally given to the client using the app.
Naming TherAppy is a one-of-a-kind app that has a specific audience and a specific set of goals in mind, and is obviously designed so well that we could not find anything remotely lacking in it.  Apps like these makes one wonder if Apple and Steve Jobs specifically had the special population in mind when they released their iOS devices.  Whether they actually did or not, Naming TherAppy took everything that technology has to offer and streamlined it to meet the needs of individuals with word retrieval difficulties.
Price: $24.99 
Weight27.2 MB
Updated: 4 August 2011
Version: 1
Compatible with: the iPhone (and iPod Touch) and iPad
Seller: Tactus Therapy Solutions Ltd. 2011
Target Population: adults and children
Awesome if you want to work on:
  • responsive naming
  • confrontation naming
  • word-finding
  • repetition
  • describing
  • semantic memory
  • semantic feature analysis
Customer Ratings (iTunes): no ratings yet as of this article’s date
iSPeak App says: 5 out of 5 smileys

 

Games with Purpose 3: Ah Up and Ah Up Planet have gone FREE (again)!

Spread the word:  Our favorite vocal intensity app, Ah Up,  has again gone FREE!  Not only that, it brought along a little brother:  Ah Up Planet.

The last time we raised the “free” flag, we were a tad too late:  Ah Up had gone back to its $0.99 price status.  Today however, you have not one, but TWO Ah Up apps, and you can’t go wrong in downloading one or the other.  Both apps are originally for the iPhone and iPod Touch, but can be run on the iPad with the graphics blown up.  Both of them are beautifully voice-activated and accelerometer-controlled.  Ah Up Planet takes your rocket off a space station platform (we assume the platform is attached to a space station) and straight up into space to gather stars and to run into satellites and other obstacles.  Level up to other planets and discover where your (or your kid client’s) breath capacity and big vocal intensity will take you.

Read our review on the original Ah Up.

Can we have a similar app for adults, say, for those with Parkinson’s disease?  Calling the app developers!

Discounted apps! Fire up your iOS device and grab these deals

 

The school year in the U.S. is just about to start and this is the perfect time to load up on apps that you can use at work!  We rarely get app discounts and freebies in the SpEd and speech-language therapy worlds, so grab the following apps as soon as you can.  NOTE:  Some apps have been by default free, but we all LOVE lists, so here it goes:

 

 

For a more complete list, go to the Technology in (Spl) Education site.  Happy downloading!

 

FlexPlayer plays several video formats…no conversion needed

There are a lot of video formats out there that it is easy to forget which formats are accepted by which player.  It’s easy enough to play any video format on a PC or a Mac using VLC Media Player, and for a brief moment in the past, there was a VLC app for our iOS devices.  Unfortunately, Apple pulled it off the App Store late last year, leaving many of us, well, sad.

Apparently FlexPlayer has been in the App Store for some time now, and according to users’ feedback, it is a good alternative to the VLC Media Player app.  Available as a universal application (we LOVE universal apps), FlexPlayer is said to support several video formats of:

  • Up to HD quality (1280 x 720 pixels) for QuickTime media files (mp4, mov, m4v)
  • Up to DV quality (720 x 576 pixels) for other media files (avi, divx, xvid, vob, …)

Users have commented that FlexPlayer does NOT lag at all with 720p .flv video formats (!) Unfortunately, it does not play 1080p .flv, possibly due to our present iOS devices’ hardware restrictions.  There have been reports that while FlexPlayer does play .mkv files, there is significant lag on both 720p and 1080p.

Still, if you are in need of a video player app that can play several video formats, check FlexPlayer out.  It’s FREE after all.  If any of you would like to recommend VLC-ish video player apps, post a comment here and help us out in the hunt.

  • FlexPlayer:  FREE
  • Updated: Aug 10, 2011
  • Current Version: 1.1
  • 1.1
  • Size: 8.6 MB
  • Language: English
  • Seller: Persona Software, LLC
  • © 2011 Persona Software, LLC

Brush up on Narrative Development via a FREE webinar by Mindwing Concepts

webinar: Narrative Development:  Beyond Story Grammar

There will be a free webinar on Narrative Development:  Beyond Story Grammar on Tuesday, September 13 at 4:00 PM EST (which is Wednesday, September 14, 4:00 AM Manila time) by Maryellen Rooney Moreau, MEd, CCC-SLP of Mindwing Concepts.

Maryellen Rooney Moreau, MEd, CCC-SLP is the founder and the president of MindWing Concepts, Inc. and is a speech-language pathologist.  One of her main areas of interest is oral language development, in particular, story grammar, narrative development and expository text.

Aside from narrative development, the webinar may likewise talk about Ms. Moreau’s Story Grammar Marker, a learning tool she had developed.

Click here to read the webinar’s abstract and to know more  about the presenter.

Want to register for the webinar?  Click here.

Know more about MindConcepts, Inc. here.

 

 

 

 

A collection of ‘Spot the Difference’ apps for facilitating visual attention

Most apps on the app stores have significant therapeutic use.  As long as you know what skills you want to target, a few minutes of surfing in app stores usually yield a handful of apps.  We have come up with such a handful for those who wish to work on visual attention, especially attention to picture details. These are:

*features real pictures, some in HD

All of these apps are compatible across iDevices.  Some are universal, too.  The difficulty levels each app features vary greatly:  some require heightened levels of focus and attention to small details, others are kinder–so to speak.  Since all of these featured apps are free (some of them give you the option to buy to get more activities and/or to get rid of ads), it can be to your advantage if you download a few and try them out for yourself.  

 

Dyslexie: a new typeface to help dyslexics read better (with updated links)

No, this is not an app. This is better than an app. Christian Boer of Studio Studio developed a whole new typeface for individuals with dyslexia in 2008. Since individuals with dyslexia perceive many letters as similar, they often confuse letters such as m/n, i/j, p/q/b. Dyslexie was designed to solve that problem by providing graphic emphasis on the diffrent characteristics of the letters, thereby letting the reader distinguish a letter d from the letter b.

The University of Twente in Netherlands had conducted a study on the typeface. Check out Studio Studio’s website here.

(update)  The University of Twente did not conduct the study, rather, it was Christian Boer’s own work.

If you want to try out the new Dyslexie typeface, head over to Studio Studio’s Textual Examples page and download samples of text (with and without a yellow background).  Do you want to have some of your written samples typed out in Dyslexie?  Drop Christian Boer a line and let him know you’d like to send him written samples (especially those written in your own language, as long as it uses the Roman alphabet) for him to convert and email back to you.