Conversation TherAppy’s update carries new languages, including Filipino

Conversation TherAppyConversation TherAppy is one of Tactus Therapy Solutions’ most versatile apps.  A year after we wrote a review on it, we have used it over and over again with our clients young and old, getting age-appropriate discussions going on how to solve shown problems, create stories inferred from the pictured scenes, express one’s own feelings and even expand topics by sharing opinions and experiences related to presented topics.  With its more than 300 engaging pictures that show modern topics and issues, it does not matter whether you are using a sturdy iPad 2 or an iPad Air or Mini with their Retina screens… the visuals are practically flawless.

Today, Conversation TherAppy is freshly updated and now packs a Filipino language set along with other Photo 6-17-14, 8 05 46 PMlanguages such as French, German, Zulu, Spanish and Dutch.  If you happen to find yourself working with a Filipino client, there is always an option to toggle the language on in the app’s Settings.  Filipinos are famously multilingual, and should you use these questions with one, listen to them code-switch freely. 🙂

Conversation TherAppy also comes Photo 6-17-14, 7 14 20 PMwith a new Tutorial window that greets you with a few reminders when you open it after you have updated the app.  It points out several beautiful–and we mean beautiful–features such as:

  • how to add a New User
  • how to Customize the database
  • where to find options to actually Edit the questions
  • its three scoring options: Correct, Approximate/Cued and Incorrect

If you haven’t gotten Conversation TherAppy yet, we suggest that you do.  At $24.99, we guarantee you that it will be one of your constant go-to apps in your iPad.  You might even get to learn and understand a bit of Filipino (or Dutch, or Zulu) on the side!

Photo 6-17-14, 8 13 43 PMPhoto 6-17-14, 8 14 05 PMPhoto 6-17-14, 8 15 27 PM

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

 

 

What’s in your iPad? Gaming apps that are therapy-worthy

And we’re back!  The school year here is about to end and we will be freed from our academic responsibilities for a few months.  To make up for our weeks of silence, we’re offering you a short list of gaming apps that almost always finds its way into our therapy activities.  Check out a few apps that simply refuse to leave our iPad:

  • PerfettoPerfetto by GoodAppl ($0.99):  This one is a bestseller among our bigger kids who love the simplicity of the task matched against immense time pressure.  Ever had one of these as a physical toy?  Quickly sort complicated shapes into their respective holes and beat the time.  Once the toy (or the app) hits 0 seconds, the toy/app “shakes,” throwing off all your pieces.  There goes all your hard work!
  • Lil Kitten Shopping CatLil’ Kitten Shopping Cart Game by PODD Corp. ($2.99):  Before you exclaim and say “$2.99!” let us tell you that this quirky app is perfect for visual attention, auditory memory, visual recall, even mental calculation, all bundled in the everyday life functionality of grocery shopping.  Momma Cat gives Lil’ Kitten grocery money and a shopping list.  Your task is to help Lil’ Kitten find and buy the items on the list.  Guide Lil’ Kitten to the correct aisles, have her push her cart down the shelves, look real hard for the item, AND choose which items are cheaper.  There even is a Sale shelf.  Up the difficulty by having your kid memorize the grocery list instead of consulting it every few seconds.  Watch Lil’ Kitten save up more and more change as she goes through each difficulty level.  We don’t know about you, but for us, this game app is SO worth it.
  • PlayHomeMy PlayHome by Shimoun Young ($3.99):  An SLP’s iPad must have at least one dollhouse app in it, and if there is, we hope it’s My PlayHome.  The characters and other items look hand-drawn and painted, with an overall look that is almost endearing.  Navigate through rooms in the house.  Drop a member of each family into any room you want.  Manipulate the curtains to open and close, feed Mom an apple, pour juice into a glass and put the glass in the sink, even have Dad bounce in the baby’s crib (not appropriate!).  Know what we mean?  Follow multi-step directions, divergent and convergent naming, language processing galore.
  • SorteeSortee by Flow Studio ($0.99):  Unbelievably priced at $0.99, this gaming app must have been designed for SLPs (maybe it was!).  Start at a level where there are two huge pipe openings on each side of the screen.  An object from afar (which is across the desert), floats fast towards you and you have but a a second or two to engage your visual recognition skills and swipe the object into its appropriate pipe (category).  More difficult levels utilize 4 pipe openings for you to swipe objects in.  If you see a cactus approaching, tap the screen with both fingers to vanquish it.
  • How It WOrksHow It Works:  Machines by Geek Kids, by Next is Great ($1.99):  For your curious machine-loving kids, this app allows one to look into everyday machines without tearing the actual ones apart.  The pieces are set apart on the screen, prompting the user to tap-drag each piece into the machine.  Assemble the car / vacuum cleaner / hair dryer, you’ve got yourself a working machine.  Whimsically drawn and easily manipulated, this is one of those apps that you’ll want to try out first before letting your young client use it.
  • Little ThingsLittle Things by KLICKTOCK ($2.99):  This is an iSpy-like game that, while perfect for older kids, can test even our own frustration tolerance levels.  Big figures are made up of tiny figures.  A list appears on the screen’s right side, prompting you to look for those items within the drawing.  This promises to hyper-engage anyone’s focused attention.

Tiny Dentist

  • Tiny Dentist by fantastoonic (FREE):  This app puts your young client on the OTHER side of the dentist’s chair.  Swipe across the patients’ faces to change clients.  Use a scaler, a drill, tweezers, even braces to remove and fill cavities, fix, whiten and beautify the teeth of several kid patients.  Guaranteed a bestseller among your kids, just lower down the volume when the scaler’s squeaking and drilling: it brings back memories of your own dental visits.
  • Phrasal Verbs MachinePhrasal Verbs Machine by Cambridge University Press (FREE):  This app is certainly for older kids or even adult clients.  Lovingly crafted into a virtual wooden case, the app quickly shows the user an animation, and then prompts the user to choose which one of the following 5 phrasal verbs matches the animation.

 

  • Endless AlphabetEndless Alphabet by Callaway Digital Arts, Inc. (FREE)  Ah, but this is not just any alphabet.  Download once, then redownload to get the rest of the letters and words.  Given a word (several times these are ‘big’ words), a bunch of monsters run across it to mess the letters up.  As you drag a letter onto its designated letter space, the letter cries out its phonemic sound over and over again.  Once you have put the word together (ex: word is “humorous), the app tells you the meaning of the word.

So there you have it!  Whether the app is paid or free, the fact is these are great therapy material, and can be used over and over again.  Check the App Store for more apps.  For all you know your target app had gone free recently 🙂

Screening early language skills using the iPad is now possible via the Common Core Early Language Screener (CCELS)

A quick search through the web and the App Store can give any clinician the impression that majority of the SLP apps out there are either for therapy or for record keeping.  The iPad has addressed the problem of carrying paper-based–and oftentimes heavy–materials from one client to another, that is, until one is called to do screening and assessment.  We have not seen a good language screening app online, until we saw the CCELS:  Common Core Early Language Screener by Smarty Ears.

Based from the common core standards that were set in the U.S., the CCELS was designed to screen the language skills of children between pre-kindergarten to kindergarten levels.  After the evaluator has entered basic student information for a New Screening, he/she can set what skills level need to be assessed by choosing the grade level.

Skills assessed by the CCELS. (Source: www.smartyearsapps.com)

We took the CCELS for a test drive and entered the necessary information in order to start the screening.  As we went through the CCELS using Pre-Kindergarten, Beginning Kindergarten, and Ending Kindergarten, it was apparent that the skills assessed were different at each level.  We had to familiarize ourselves with the screener prior to administering the app as each step had its own set of instructions on how to administer and score.  There are, for the most part, three screens:

  • the Instructions screen
  • the Stimuli screen
  • the Scoring screen

The Instructions Screen contains:

  • the header: the area being screened (for example:  Actions).  Also contains the Home button.
  • the body, which contains:
    • the task:  (Now you will have the student label the pictures:)
    • the prompt/s:  (Can you name these pictures? What is this?)
    • the instructions:  (Click next to display pictures & present them to the child.)
  • the footer:  holds the following buttons:
    • Back button: brings the user to the previous task
    • Skip button: brings the user to the next task
    • Next button: allows one to proceed to the picture/figure/word stimuli

Click Next and one enters the Stimuli screen.  Click Next again and number buttons appear, allowing one to tap and assign a score for the task.

It was apparent that a good amount of foresight went into the designing of the CCELS.  We appreciated the following features:

  • one-time entry of institution and evaluator name:  this option is under Settings.  Entering information via Settings ensures that these names will appear in all reports generated via the CCELS.
  • text or PDF:  choose whether the report to be generated will be text-version or inPDF format
  • print forms:  hook up the iPad to an AirPrint printer and print an Evaluator Form or a Child Sheet
  • option to resume and complete screening at another time:  access this option via Past Screenings, and it will show you which screenings have been finished and which ones are still pending.
  • option to conclude the screening and skip subsequent items:  If you click on the Home button in the middle of the screening, the app asks you if you want to:
    • complete the assessment and generate a report
    • save progress and continue later
  • generate a report:  the report contains:the client’s basic information as entered in the New Screening screen
    • when the client’s early language skills was screened, the tool’s name and purpose, etc.
    • grade level selected for the client
    • (in table format) language skills, percent accuracy, and ratio of correct answers to total questions asked.

The CCELS is easy to use, the fonts were big and readable, the pictures colorful and easy to process visually, the instructions clear and concise.  The Generate Report feature never failed to elicit smiles from our fellow speech-language pathologists each time we showed the app off to them.  Except for a bit of a lag in a couple of tasks (we used an iPad 2), the CCELS is an awesome gift to us who are often called to do a quick screening and we just so happened to have an iPad on hand.  We all know the iPad is a great investment, but having a screening tool such as the CCELS in it boosts its usefulness and value in our work.

Price: $ 34.99 
Weight: 65.9 MB
Updated: 9 August 2012
Version: 1.0
Compatible with: iPad
Seller: Smarty Ears, LLC
Target Population: children
Awesome if you want to:
  • screen early language skills
Customer Ratings (iTunes): 4+ out of 5 stars
iSPeak App says: 4+ out of 5 smileys

 

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

Ditch your whiteboard for Bamboo Paper by Wacom, FREE until end of June

We used to hoard scratch paper for writing visual / written cues for our kid and adult clients.  Then we went green and shifted to folder-sized whiteboards and a bunch of whiteboard markers. Sure, they were light and were easy to erase.  These boards were our original, low-cost, unbreakable iPads!  But there was always the danger of decorating your own clothes with the marker, or accidentally erasing what you’ve just written on the whiteboard (if your kid client hasn’t done so yet).  Oh yes, we love our whiteboards so much, we’re letting them go on leave now that Bamboo Paper by Wacom has finally made its way to the iPad.

We are SO pushing this app to you iPad owners.  We’ve tried out several drawing and doodling apps, but so far we haven’t come across anything that was as responsive and as intuitive as Bamboo Paper.  We’ve seen Bamboo Tablets used by graphic artists (and many of them attest to its ease of use).  That was why we were tickled pink when its iPad version came out.  Start the app, and you are greeted by a sketchbook cover.  Change the title of the notebook if you so wish.  You can customize your sketchbook by

  • changing the cover’s color:  blue, green, yellow, purple
  • changing the ‘paper’s’ design:  plain, lined, or graphed

Tap on the cover and it flips open.  Your Bamboo Paper sketchbook can accommodate several pages (we suppose that for as long as you keep swiping for a new page, you’ll get a new page).  The screen’s upper border contains minimalist icons for:

  • closing your sketchbook and returning you to the cover
  • exporting your page via email, saving it to your iPad’s Photo Library, or by printing it
  • undoing an action
  • redoing an action
  • drawing pen:  with
    • three options for stroke thickness
    • six color options
  • eraser
  • clear page
  • bookmark

Look hard enough at the lower right and left corners of the screen and you’ll see faint arrow icons that allows you to flip through your three allotted pages.  We’ve tried to turn the pages by swiping at them, resulting to drawn strokes on the paper instead.

If you want to send the entire sketchbook off to someone, you can always tap on the upper left button to return to the sketchbook cover, tap on the Export button at the bottom of the sketchbook, and decide whether to email the sketchbook as a PDF, or print it out.

For serious graphic artists, they may find the Bamboo Paper seriously lacking in color, stroke, and drawing options.  But for basic drawing needs such as drawing a basic map when giving someone directions, sketching out an idea, or for instances when one is put on voice rest following the removal of vocal fold nodules, this app is a very indispensable tool.  We even use this as a tally board for our competitive young clients, as a drawing tool for Pictionary, or even as a simple reward for a job well done at therapy.

Use the Bamboo Paper with your fingers or with a Bamboo Stylus for iPad.  We weren’t able to find a Bamboo Stylus in the shops here, so we used a Targus iPad Stylus and it worked just as well.

FREE until the end of June! Grab this one now.  Usefulness guaranteed.


Ommwriter is now available for Windows (time to finish that report minus the distractions!)

Ommwriter, the popular distraction-free writing tool for Mac, is now available for Windows users for FREE! Now you have absolutely no excuse to not write that evaluation report that was due three weeks ago.

Just in case you missed our review on Ommwriter, check out the article we wrote a few months back. And just in case you missed the point: yes this IS a good, indispensable app, so go get it.

Gone FREE! Mobile Mouse Pro turns your iDevice into a wireless trackpad / mouse / remote for your PC & Mac

Happiness is apps going free.  Double happiness is WIRELESS apps going free.  For an unspecified length of time, Mobile Mouse Pro has gone FREE on the App Store!  Got an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad?  If so:

  • do you need to give a presentation and your laptop is feet away from the podium?
  • want to control your computer’s music wirelessly while you’re seated in your couch?
  • hooked up your computer to a giant LCD screen and you need to go through your media apps wirelessly?

iDevice + a Windows- or Mac-based laptop + wireless network and consider yourself free of wires and stuck in your seat.  How do you go about getting this app and getting it to work?

  1. make sure your private wifi router is on or you are hooked onto an ad hoc network
  2. download the free Mobile Mouse Pro into your iDevice
  3. download the free Mobile Mouse Server into your Windows- or Mac-based computer from mobilemouse.com’s Downloads section
  4. follow the instructions at mobilemouse.com’s Support page
  5. check your settings, fire it up, and you’re good to go

What does MMP have in store for you?  Oh heck, a lot.  Lifted from the app’s home page are the following:

  • Accelerometer based mouse
  • Trackpad with vertical and horizontal orientation
  • Media keys with volume and eject controls
  • Web keys
  • Application switcher/launcher
  • Application notifications
  • Unlimited custom media and web remotes with scripting capabilities
  • Remote keyboard with modifier keys
  • Function keyboard with arrow keys
  • Oversized numeric keypad
  • Programable hotkeys (can be set to run a program or keyboard combination)
  • Scroll pad
  • Multitouch gestures (supports scrolling & right click)
  • Remotely wake up and put your computer to sleep
  • Password protection
  • Custom sensitivity settings
  • Foreign language keyboards
  • Supports Bonjour or static IP
  • No screen size limitation. Works with multiple monitors
  • Works over WIFI, no line of sight limitations
  • Built from the ground up for Mac and Windows

If you are using a Mac, you can still use the two-finger approach to scroll up and down pages, pinch to resize, and even assign hotkeys.  For some reason however, the four-finger swipe down did not bring out my Expose.  Still, this is one mean, indispensable app. Highly, HIGHLY recommended.

SmallTalk Aphasia: making communication extra functional

There aren’t many apps on Apple’s App Store that caters to the needs of individuals with language disorders.  While there is a host of apps that utilize the iOS’ text-to-speech function such as Type N Talk (free) (there is also a Type N Talk Deluxe!) and Talk Bot, they are not designed for the population that need specific and functional phrases paired with simple yet engaging illustrations to communicate exactly what they wish to say.  Enter SmallTalk Aphasia.  There are two kinds:  SmallTalk Aphasia–Female and SmallTalk Aphasia Male.

Designed by the folks at Lingraphicare, SmallTalk Aphasia converts your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad into a communication board of sorts.  Each illustration–minimally colored and simply yet effectively drawn–accompanies a short, functional phrase often needed (and used) by clients with aphasia.  One can utilize these functional words and phrases by using the app’s “icons” or

“videos.”  The user taps on “icons” and the illustration and functional phrase are shown as a scrollable list where one can tap and select a flashcard, and the card fills the screen followed by a voice that reads out the text.  Tap on “videos,” and while the same scrollable list comes up, selecting one plays a video of a mouth (female or male, depends on which app you choose to download and install) speaking the selected text.

The scrollable list is divided into main headings:

  • me: “I have aphasia.”  “I had a stroke.” etc.
  • conversation: yes/no, basic social greetings
  • telephone: basic phrases that can be played onto a phone’s mouthpiece such as “I am using a speech device to talk to you.”  “Speak slowly.”  “I cannot write down your message.”
  • emergency: “I need help.”  “Call 911.” etc.
  • meals: meal names, common food names such as “fried chicken,” “waffles,” “sandwich”
  • restaurants: “Starbucks.”  “Pizza Hut.” etc.
  • health: “I don’t feel well today.”  “pain.” etc.
  • pain scale: a 6-point scale showing face illustrations ranging from “no pain” to “worst pain possible.”

Hold the iOS device upright and it shows the scrollable list.  Hold it in landscape position and the choices are presented in cover flow mode.

The videos’ scrollable list have a slightly different set.  It includes several conversation-appropriate lines such as “It’s hard to talk.”  “What should we do today.” days of the week, common color names, and several phonemes such as /b, d, g, k, w, ow, s/. Each video clip repeats a chosen word twice and a chosen phrase once.

There’s much to love about this app, aside from the fact that it IS free.  Several of these nice points are:

  • easy-to-use interface
  • functional, applicable words and phrases:  has many of what a client with aphasia needs to say
  • the included videos of a mouth speaking can be beneficial to both the client and the person he/she is talking to: the client can use the video to cue him/herself to say the same word/s
  • big tap areas:  perfect for not-so-small fingers and not-so-fine hand/finger movements
  • cover flow on landscape position:  easier way to swipe and select among flashcards
  • illustrations are simple and easy to process visually
  • clear voice clips, and reasonably loud at max volume setting

This app falls short on a few areas:

  • could have included a button to bring the user back to the main screen (to select “icons” or “videos).  Instead, one has to hit the Home button on the iOS device and go start the app again
  • can be used by only a select group of clients with aphasia, namely by those who have enough processing and visual/reading comprehension that allows them to select their desired picture/word
  • could have included options for customization:  the present selections appear to be culturally bound.  Not everyone has bagels for breakfast or goes to Olive Garden for dinner.  Options to allow a caregiver or family member customize the app by taking a picture and adding it to the flashcard library, inserting text under it, and recording a voice to say the card won’t only make this app astoundingly functional, it would have made it my dream app!

I can go on and on about including options to customize within apps for special populations.  As any allied health professional would know, each client has specific needs, and each culture has its own reality sets and languages.  And as any speech-language pathologist working with adults would know, not all aphasic clients have English as their primary language.

But since this app is not by and large designed to replace any form of language intervention, it is perfectly reasonable to value its pluses for itself.  Ask me to design an app for clients with global aphasia or even Wernicke’s, there is a good chance I won’t be able to make one.  The problems that aphasia presents (and the combinations thereof) are numerous and vary widely, and it may be nearly impossible to design an app that covers the communicative needs of the majority.

Have I used this at therapy?  No, not yet.  Have I shared this with my clients and their families?  Yes.  It does its job and for many aphasic clients, this app can mean the world to them.

Price: FREE
Weight: 24.7 MB
Updated: 16 November 2010
Version: 1
Compatible with: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad.  Needs iOS 3.0 up.
Seller: Lingraphicare Inc. @ Lingraphicare America Inc.
Target Population: individuals with aphasia
Awesome if you want to work on:
  • facilitating production of speech
  • facilitating imitation of sounds, target words
  • facilitating communicative exchanges
  • facilitate selective attention
  • facilitates word retrieval during word/phrase search within the app
  • Wh- questions whose answers are within the app’s word/phrase database
Customer Ratings (iTunes): 5 out of 5 smileys
iSPeak App says: 4 out of 5 smileys

Distracted When Doing Paperwork? Try Distraction-Free Ommwriter & CreaWriter


It’s the holidays.  You swore by your upcoming 2011 patient load that you will and shall finish your overdue reports this holiday break.  You sit in front of your computer, evaluation reports and notes at hand, fingers poised at the keyboard and hand on the mouse.

One hour later you guiltily realize you’ve been on Facebook, on YouTube, had been firing up one tweet after another on Twitter, and had uploaded your mom’s high school reunion pictures in her Shutterfly account.  Basically, you’ve done almost everything you needed to do in front of the computer BUT your reports.

There just might be a way to salvage what’s left of your holiday break and put the remaining days into good use as you had originally intended.  Enter Ommwriter for Mac and CreaWriter for Windows.

Both the Ommwriter and CreaWriter are plain word processors stripped down to their bare essentials.  No, they don’t do magic like zapping away all that can distract you or grab your eyeballs and after slapping a pair of blinders on them make you focus on the screen.  Fire up either one (depending on what OS and computer you are using), and your screen is reduced to a neutral, Zen-like, simple wallpaper on which you can type your text.

Swipe your mouse on specific areas and you can perform basic tweaks:
  • change fonts
  • change font size
  • change wallpaper
  • change background music
  • change keyboard tones
  • save document
I wrote this blog using Ommwriter and simply cut-pasted the text onto WordPress.  For an even better writing experience I slapped on a couple of buds and had the app’s ambient music play into my head.  Click on each image to play a demo video.

Both apps’s basic versions are free to download.  Both too have paid versions, which offer more customizable features such as changing font styles, autosave times, additional audio and visual experiences, etc.  (Ommwriter Dana starts at US$4.11, CreaWriter welcomes donations of any amount).

Surprisingly, the app does help one concentrate and get into the report-writing zone.  Remember though, a few things are necessary when you do use either app:
  • you must be very resolute in wanting to finish your paperwork
  • consciously reduce visual and auditory distractions
  • be awake: maintain alertness levels in any way you see fit but stay in front of the screen!
  • save your document…often!
Download and enjoy Ommwriter and CreaWriter, everyone =)  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.