the Articulate It promo code contest has ended, and we have a WINNER!

Last week we did a quick word on Smarty Ears’ update on Articulate It and put a promo code for it at stake in our review article.

Thanks for all who joined the contest!  Our lucky winner is…

Roma Delos Santos

Congratulations!  You are now a  proud owner of a copy of Articulate It!

Send us an email at speakapp@gmail.com with your name and contact details so we can send you your promo code.

Stick around everyone.  We may have another giveaway just around the corner 🙂

 

Articulate It! receives a major update! Join the giveaway to experience it for FREE

Articulate ItSmarty Ears Apps had recently given one of their highly successful apps, Articulate It! a major makeover.  Articulate It! was designed to help speech-language pathologists, teachers, even parents work on children’s articulation and phonological skills.  Packing a hefty weight of 1000 images, one can use the app to target the production of English consonant sounds.

We updated our copy of Articulate It! and after starting it up, we were greeted with a brand new startup screen.  Love the new dinosaur mascot.  Love the new colours!  We could almost imagine how this new look would pop out in Retina screens (we used our trusty iPad 2).Articulate It 1

Here are the update’s highlights:

  • the Reports screen received a new look, and our kid clients’ profiles were retained including data on past activities, dates of practice, and accuracy ratings.
  • the Select Player screen likewise has a cleaner, fresher look.  We tried to import players from Smarty Ears’ Therapy Report Center, and since we haven’t gotten the app yet, we were prompted to download it right away.
  • after tapping on Quick Play, we were treated to four NEW choices
    • Phonemes:  select which phonemes we would like to work on (including /r, l, s/ clusters)
    • Phonological Processes:  one can opt to start the activity by being more specific and target specific phonological processes
    • Manner of Articulation:  choose your mix:  plosives?  liquids? fricatives?
    • Number of Syllables:  filter the words you want included in the activity by syllable.  You can choose between 1 to 4 syllablesArticulate It 2
  • when the activity started, we were chuffed to know that the app now has THREE levels of practice:
    • Words
    • Phrases
    • Sentences
  • images appear to have been refreshed
  • interface received a facelift:  the main part of the screen is flipbook in style, with other options set in a taskbar at the left of the screen.  One can opt to take notes, or rotate the picture in four ways (that way, you can opt to have your taskbar oriented to where you are positioned in relation to the iPad).
  • report format was redesigned:  nice big letters, with buttons to allow the user to view notes made, what words were used for that specific activity, and to play back any recordings that were taken.Articulate It 3

Just so they can let everyone know Articulate It’s new features, Smarty Ears is giving away a FREE copy.  If you think you’re curious enough to win one, join the contest via Rafflecopter (see below) and follow the instructions on how you can have a chance at snapping up a promo code for Articulate It!

Price:  $ 38.99
Weight: 343 MB
Updated:  11 April 2013
Version: 3.2
Compatible with: iPhone, iPod Touch & iPad.  Requires iOS 5.0 or later.
Target Population: children
Awesome if you want to work on:
  • apraxia
  • articulation
  • phonology
  • naming

Customer Ratings (iTunes): 4 out of 5 stars                                                              iSPeak App says: 4 out of 5 smileys

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Regulate speech rates with Speech Pacesetter

PacemakerNeurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, traumatic brain injury or stroke can adversely affect, among other things, articulation and speech rates.  One client of ours used a metronome that set at specific beats per minute in order to bump up his speech rate.  It helped, to some extent, but we found it necessary to point to specific words in reading passages in order to help the client read faster.

Aptus Speech and Language Therapy came up with the app Speech Pacesetter (formerly known as the Speech Pacemaker).  The concept is pretty simple: the app highlights (or points, using a bouncing ball) the words the client is to read out.   Start Speech Pacesetter up and it brings you immediately to the app’s main screen.  The screen’s top edge shows around four popular reading passages’ titles plus a tab that allows you to insert your own reading passage.

  • The Rainbow (The Rainbow Passage)
  • My Grandfather
  • North Wind and the Sun
  • Arthur The Rat
  • pasteboard

Pacemaker1

Below the reading passage tabs are the rewind and forward buttons (moves your cursor one word forward or backward), and the Stop, Pause, Go buttons.  

The selected reading passage occupies majority of the screen.  It is the next few features that highlights the beauty of this app:

  • The orange scrollbar controls the speed at which the words / syllables are highlighted.  Want to refine your values?  Tap the minus/plus buttons to nudge the rate down or up a word/syllable.
    • Select word if you want words highlighted (or shown one at a time) or syllable for per-syllable highlighting
  • The blue scrollbar controls the length of the pause or gap in-between sentences.  Tweak your settings by seconds using the minus/plus buttons.  Beside this scrollbar is the
    • Options button:  allows you to
      • adjust the reading passage’s font size
      • color schemes:  dark background with light-colored font or vice versa
      • toggle the metronome sound on/off
      • choose if words/syllables will be highlighted, bounced on by a ball, or will appear by word
    • Info button:  which gives you basic instructions on how to use the app as well as the app developer’s details and contact information.

Pacemaker3

A lite version of the app may be downloaded here.

What we love about this app:

  • the Pasteboard:  this alone expands the app beyond its first impressions.  Type in or copy-paste a news article, a poem, a song (with the lyrics to be read), even a letter that your client wishes to read to someone.  The Pasteboard lets the client bridge his speech rates from reading passages onto increasingly more difficult ones that are closer to what he/she encounters in real life.
  • easy scrolling when adjusting words/syllables per minute and in-between sentence pauses:  by situating these important settings at the bottom of the screen, it allows the clinician to make fast adjustments to match the client’s performance.
  • one gets to choose whether words or syllables will be highlighted
  • adjustable font sizes
  • simple, fast, light:  with a small data footprint, Speech Pacesetter can work from iPhone 3GS up, and on iPads running iOS 5.0 or higher.  5.8 mb will merely nibble at the edges of your iOS device’s free space.

What we would love to see in future updates:  We are pretty happy with the content, so what we are looking forward to is a couple of adjustments on the interface.  Play, Pause, Stop icon buttons perhaps?  We love the app, and in all its simplicity, it is designed to make reading passages easier to read by a metronome along with visual cues.  No bells nor whistles here, just how we want specific therapy apps to be.

Price:  $7.99
Weight: 5.8 MB
Updated:  15 March 2013
Version: 1.6
Compatible with: iPhone 3GS until iPhone 5, iPod Touch (3rd-5th Gen), iPad.  Requires iOS 5.0 or later.
Seller:  Lorraine Curran © Aptus Speech and Language Therapy
Target Population: children, adults
Awesome if you want to work on:
  • apraxia
  • articulation
  • dysarthria
  • voice
  • stuttering

Customer Ratings (iTunes): no ratings yet                                                                       iSPeak App says: 4 out of 5 smileys

 

 

Streamline your work on verbal apraxia with Speech FlipBook

Speech FlipbookAdmit it: somewhere in the depths of your arsenal / box of tricks / treasure chest / speech box is your handmade speech sound flip book.  Springbound colored laminated sound cards.  Loose sound cards in a plastic box.  We made ours during internship eons ago: cut up index cards with big letters written in wide-tipped markers, held together by metal binder rings.  These worked of course.  They were also unwieldy.  

When Tactus Therapy Solutions finally released the Speech FlipBook, we could almost swear we heard trumpets blaring.  Finally!  But wait a minute, we thought: this for sure is no ordinary flipbook.  We’ll walk you through this and tell you why.

Speech Flipbook1See that start-up screen, the design complete with spring binding?  Great attention to detail, yes?  That’s just an intro.  Before jumping into the Speech FlipBook, we went to Settings first and it was good we did.  Look at this rich array of options:

  • by FlipBook case:   UPPERCASE, lowercase, IPA
  • by Word case:   UPPERCASE, lowercase
  • (include) blank pages: (lets one manage syllable forms better)
    • Initial (allow VC)
    • Final (allow CV)
    • Both (allow V)
    • None (CVC only)
  • Include:
    • Real Words
    • Nonwords
    • both
  • Show / Hide words (words are situated in the bottom of the Flipbook)
  • Turn Links On / Off
  • Flip Effect:  Visual, Sound, Both, None
  • Edit Word List button

Speech Flipbook2

We went back to the cover where one can choose to flip by…

  • sounds
  • words

Speech Flipbook6

Flip by words, open the FlipBook, and it shows you sound combinations in uppercase / lowercase / IPA that form words (or nonwords, depending on your Settings).  Flip by sounds and, again depending on your settings, FlipBook generates initial, medial and final sounds in three paper panels that you can flip individually to create new words / non words.

Of course, what really really trumps the competition here is its ability to hand to the clinician full customizability by allowing individual sound selection.  These tabs are divided into (with their own tab colors, remember attention to detail?) the following:

  • Initial Sounds:  in table form(!) arranged by 
    • place of articulation (bilabial, labiodental, velar, etc.)
    • manner of articulation (voiced & voiceless stops, fricatives, nasals, etc.)
  • Initial Clusters:  /l, r, s, w, 3/ clusters
  • Vowels:  by
    • vowels
    • dipthongs
    • r-controlled vowels
  • Final Sounds (same table form as Initial Sounds)
  • Final Clusters: /p, m, th, f, t… etc./ clusters

Speech Flipbook5SpeechFlipbook 4Thus, if you are to start using the FlipBook with a client, simply:

  • tweak your settings: words only? in lowercase? show words? with flipping sound and animation or none?
  • choose your sound combos: tap which initial and final sounds and clusters, and which vowels you want to appear in your FlipBook
  • start flipping! tap the sounds to toggle the sound cue.  Flip between sounds or words to show (and play the sound of) the syllable’s parts
  • recording voice is optional:  you can record the client’s voice to encourage comparing and contrasting his/her voice to that of the app’s, and facilitate the client’s ability to monitor his/her own productions

What we love about this app:

  • full customizability:  we held on to our handmade therapy material because it it was easy to go through individual cards.  FlipBook improved and returned this accessibility back into the clinician’s hands by allowing one to select different speech sounds, whether or not to include blank pages, to use the IPA or not, etc.
  • a rich set of sounds, vowels and clusters offers the clinician that can be combined to produce 60,000 words and nonwords:  we love numbers, so, to borrow from the developer’s website:
    • 22 initial sounds
    • 29 initial clusters
    • 24 vowel sounds
    • 20 final sounds
    • 32 final clusters
  • one can opt to use words and/or nonwords:  would you want your client to practice on functional, real words or give your goals that extra stretch by using nonwords?  Again, your call.
  • retains the natural feel, or opt out if is distracting:  having an app that minimizes distractibility matters a lot to us, so when one has controls to remove sound and animation, it shows just how much it must also matter to its developers.
  • records the user’s voice:  when working on sound production, having a feature like this is always useful.  Any help in facilitating self-monitoring goes a long way.
  • interface is simple to use, sufficiently large font:  working with a client who may have poured most of his attentional resources on managing speech sounds using the FlipBook requires visuals that are easy on the eyes and are engaging enough without possessing distracting features.  What do we mean by this?
    • no scoring: Some may find the absence of scoring options as a disadvantage.  We view it as a welcome change, something that may even encourage the client to monitor and assess his own performance by comparing the FlipBook’s voice prompts against his own voice recording
    • no picturesThis is fine by us.  We would like to think that the developers did design the FlipBook to enable clients to focus how to produce target speech sounds rather than compromise attention by dual tasking via pictures.
  • downright light and affordable:  One cannot go wrong with $6.99, and you’ll love it featherlight at 33.7 MB.  With this price, the clinician can ask the client and his family to purchase the app and use it to practice at home.

What we would love to see in future updates:  We do have a tiny suggestion… a Settings lock.  The more we used the FlipBook, the more we saw it as a viable take-home tool.  Most clients (and their families) either have an iPad or has access to one even if borrowed.  Imagine if several of our clients downloaded the FlipBook, a clinician can adjust each copy’s Settings depending on each client’s therapy goals.  A Settings lock can keep the clinician’s settings in place while the client practices at home going through words and speech sounds in the appropriate level of difficulty.

The tried-and-tested therapy materials are those that one tends to go back to over the years.  What the developers of Speech FlipBook did was they took a universal, well-loved therapy material, compressed all possible targets into an interface that sped up the selection of speech sounds to align with one’s therapy goals, retained the traditional look and feel of the humble flipbook, and produced an oh-so-affordable app that guarantees a permanent place in the clinician’s iPad.  We believe no other app can be packaged to allow highly-specific customization via the selection of specific speech sounds, contain tens of thousands of words and nonwords, allow voice recording and playback and still be priced so low.  Speech FlipBook can definitely earn permanence not just in a clinician’s iPad, but in his/her clients’ as well.

Price:  $6.99
Weight: 33.7 MB
Updated:  28 February 2013
Version: 1.0
Compatible with: iPhone 3GS until iPhone 5, iPod Touch (3rd-5th Gen), iPad.  Requires iOS 4.3 or later.
Target Population: children, adults
Awesome if you want to work on:
  • apraxia
  • articulation
  • dysarthria
  • auditory processing
  • phonological awareness
  • reading, etc.

Customer Ratings (iTunes): 5 out of 5 stars                                                             iSPeak App says: 5 out of 5 smileys

 

 

Discounted / Free apps in celebration of World Autism Awareness Day 2013!

imagesApril 2 is World Autism Awareness Day!  Times like these, beautiful apps go LOW or go FREE.  Some of these are in reduced prices / are free only from April 1-3, 2013.  Check out which apps are these: 

We will be updating this list as sale information comes in.  Bookmark us and make sure to keep on checking back this week!

Find your way through Syntax City

Syntax City

If there is one thing that many speech-language pathologists may agree almost unanimously, it is how difficult it is to teach syntax to our kid clients.  Smarty Ears makes the learning of grammar rules more fun and infinitely more colorful with their latest release:  Syntax City.

The developers of Syntax City has this to say about the City our students are about to explore:

…We wanted to create a utopia where all verbs would agree with their subjects, all actions would be spoken with the right tense, and all people lived peacefully with the proper pronouns.

(don’t we all?)

Syntax1

The app greets you with an attractive main screen with two choices as to how you want to access the app:  Visit the City, or do a Quick Play. We wanted to visit the City of course.  And before one does that, you create your own Visitor ID.  Enter a name, add your student’s photo (or an avatar, if you don’t want using real photos, or not at all), and click either Settings or Next.  Settings is pretty straightforward:

  • audio on/off
  • emit a buzz if a mistake was made or simply remove the item, and
  • toggle voice recording prompts on/off.

Tap on Next and we finally enter the City.

Explore Syntax City’s environs by dragging the map around.  One can see different streets, buildings, parking lots, foliage, even a ski resort within the City.  The options are:

  • Third-Person Singular Beach
  • Plurals Zoo
  • Was-Were Bakery
  • Is-Are Park
  • Have-Has Grocery
  • He-She Ski Resort
  • Irregular Past Tense Farm
  • Do-Does Gym

Below the draggable map is a bar containing the avatars of the selected students who are to start exploring the city.  Drag the avatars onto a place in the map (we chose He-She Ski Resort simply because it’s 34 degrees Celsius outside) and the app offers Level 1 and Level 2 as the beginning activity.  We chose Level 2.  The app brought us to a picture screen with an introductory text on the bottom about ski resorts.  And of course, the task screen looks as chilly as one would expect a ski resort to be! You have:

Syntax3

  • the stimulus picture in the middle
  • the sentence to be completed below the stimulus picture
  • the choices (two to four, depending on level of difficulty), located below the incomplete sentence
  • the buttons Done, Back, and Next as well as the child’s avatar take up the screen’s corners

Depending on the Settings you made, tap on an incorrect choice and the word either buzzes or disappears.  Select the correct answer however, and the user is rewarded with a quick animation.  In our case, our cartoon skier skied past the picture.  

After answering correctly, the user is asked if he/she would like to record his/her phrase.  If you do not want to make any recording, just tap Next to go to the next item.  

Syntax4One may end the activity anytime by tapping Done.  Naturally, one would like to view a quick assessment of the child’s performance, or a ‘Report Card.’  The app asks you what would you like to access:

  • treasures found in town, or
  • the players performance

Syntax5

The former shows ‘treasures’ that the child has earned from different locations.  Those that the child has yet to earn are grayed out.  Choose the latter and you are led to a very comprehensive report of the child’s performance:

  • child’s name and date of the first session
  • a bar graph showing 
    • the different syntax activities (do-does, was-were, have-has, etc.)
    • which activities were already accomplished (grey for tasks the child has not practiced yet, green or yellow for accomplished tasks)
  • a report window that shows
    • date of the activity
    • number of participants
    • number of foils
    • how long it took to finish the task
    • accuracy, in percent
    • results: what tasks were accomplished for that day, and accuracy in percent
  • a Share button

What we love about this app:

  • engaging artwork and concept: a lot of cartoon work went into this app, the kind that can be hard to ignore and harder to not use the app with!  The concept positively invites any user to explore and see what each location offers.
  • profiles can be created via the Visitor Information screen: this one’s cute… it makes it look like you are really accomplishing a new registration form.  Save the form by tapping on the signature.
  • 50 targets per location, totalling to 400 total targets across 8 locations: and 8 different goals!!
  • allows multiple players AND individual difficulty settings: this feature is a HUGE plus!  You want three (five, tops) of your kid clients to go to Was-Were Bakery, but you want one child to work on Level 3 Was-Were, another child to use Level 1, and your third client to use Level 2.  BOOM.  You got it.
  • beautifully sharp stimulus pictures: we DID say engaging…
  • a quick animation rewards a correct answer: serves well as visual feedback
  • option to record one’s voice
  • lets child keep track of collectible treasures:  most children remain hooked on collecting stickers and badges.  In the case of Syntax City, the app makes it easy for them to check which ones they’ve already earned, and which ones are waiting to be discovered by them.
  • a very informative Report Card: the bar graph gives the teacher/clinician an idea how each child fared in any Syntax City activity AND keeps track of each (registered) child’s performance in past activities.  This matters big time.

What we hope to see in future updates:

  • an option in Settings to skip the voice recording option: a few of our kid clients get sidetracked by this option that pops out after every item.  
  • tweaked font colors in each location’s starting screen: the text in some of the locations’ starting screens were difficult to read especially if the background was similar to the fonts’ color.  Contain the text in a separate box within the picture, perhaps?

Syntax7

Syntax City can deload the clinician of the challenges behind teaching children the intricacies of learning how and when to use specific words by understanding both the picture and what is being said about it.  As with most teaching apps, the key is to carefully guide the young user in choosing the correct word and understanding what makes a sentence correct or otherwise.  This app helps one meet learning goals, many many many times over.

Price:  $24.99
Weight: 368 MB
Updated:  13 February 2013
Version: 1.2
Compatible with: iPad, iOS 5.0 or later
Target Population: children
Awesome if you want to work on:
  • syntax
  • descriptions
  • naming
  • answering Wh- questions, etc.
Customer Ratings (iTunes): 5 out of 5 stars
iSPeak App says: 5 out of 5 smileys