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

Big month this month for App Sales: Autism Awareness Month 2014

Screen Shot 2014-04-19 at 11.05.49 PMOh this feels good, to be back and on the hunt for app deals! We have upgraded to the new iPad Air months ago along with its sidekick, the latest iPad Mini.  We’ve migrated all our apps into these two new babies and everything just pops out of the screen.

But it’s app sale time and while we may have missed the previous Autism Awareness Month app sale announcements, there are still some that are waiting for you to take advantage of their low prices NOW.  So, let’s see what we’ve got here. **rolls sleeves up**

  • Pepi Doctor ($1.99 to FREE):  If you haven’t tried any of Pepi Play’s apps, then you’re missing a lot 🙂
  • Quick Clocks ($1.99 to FREE):  Teach children how to tell the time using analog and digital clock formats.  Set difficulty levels, have them write the time shown on the clock, enable / disable 24-hour formats.
  • Pili Pop–English Learning Games for Kids ($6.99 to $2.99):  This one’s a pretty good deal… packing 24 games in one app, Pili Pop helps teach English pronunciation and uses speech recognition tools, builds English vocabulary, facilitates language comprehension via games, and can produce free monthly progress reports of every child that uses the app.  Oh, one more thing:  NO in-app purchases.
  • Sentence Creator–Learn to Build and Write Your First Sentences (FREE):  Highly customisable, this app allows you to make your own activities.  Create short or long sentences, adjust difficulty levels, track users’ progress via sticker rewards for smaller kids and scorecards for older ones.  
  • Dr. Panda’s Airport ($1.99 to FREE):  We fell in love with Dr. Panda’s Beauty Salon not just because the nail polish activity was an absolute winner… but because there are SO many therapy goals that can be targeted using it.  We eventually snagged Dr. Panda’s Restaurant and now we’ve got the Airport.  Prepare your young client for vacation trips and take them step-by-step in going through airport security (remove keys from pockets before getting scanned!), take the shuttle to respective departure gates, even get passports stamped!  
  • Expressive ($29.99 to $14.99):  Many AAC apps tend to be a bit pricey, but Expressive offers children and adults the opportunity to communicate their wants and needs by touching over 10,000 symbols and pictures that draw from Smarty Ears’ Smarty Symbols library of built-in images.  Customize the app and create your own folders, rearrange images, choose images with audio files, change font styles, add your own images, and even lock the app to prevent settings from being modified.  
  • Social Quest ($21.99 to $10.99):  Understanding and utilizing pragmatic language in different social situations is always a challenge in any group of students.  Social Quest packs stories about real-world situations and allows students to determine which responses to a social situation are correct or incorrect, provide more than one answer to each situation, respond to questions in various locations, etc.  Difficulty levels can be modified, specific social situation locations can be selected, and with more than 800 questions across both main activities, this app’s one good investment.
  • VERBS News ($9.99 to $5.99):  Work on verb tenses while your young client pretends to be a news anchor.  The app allows multiple account users, use audio recording, track correct and incorrect answers, emailing results after the game, etc.
  • Magical Concepts ($9.99 to $5.99):  Have your little one get familiar with language concepts such as far and near, loud and quiet, crooked and straight… over 60 concepts in all.
  • Syntax Workout ($16.99 to $9.99):  With more than 1500 stimuli, this app helps in the comprehension of various pronouns (objective, demonstrative, subjective, etc.), was vs. were, do vs. does, and many more.
  • Sentence Workout ($12.99 to $7.99):  Children learn how to manage sentences by moving parts of sentences around into their respective places in order to create a grammatically correct one.  
  • Toca Lab ($3.99 to $2.99):  Toca Boca apps are awesome, and Lab is no exception.  Got a budding chemist in your little group?  This app offers activities that utilise centrifuges, Bunsen burners, mixing liquids in test tubes, etc.  Invite experimentation and discovery as your little clients mix liquids together and discover how to make them magnetic.
  • Collins Big Cat:  At the Dump Story Creator ($3.99 to FREE):  This one’s an interactive book AND a story creator!  Written for children aged four years and up, promote reading and comprehension skills, record narration and sound effects, create your own book using pictures, characters and key vocabulary from the story.  Teach children the concept of recycling, how crucial it is to tidy up all household waste into proper places, etc.
  • Collins Big Cat:  Playing Story Creator ($3.99 to FREE):  Same features as the previous app, but this time, this talks about different places where one can play.

Did we miss really good apps that are on sale?  Let us know and we’ll add it here for you!

We’re BACK! And we’ve missed you!

Were-BackIt has been a pretty busy for us these past few months, enough to take us away from blogging.  For all that it was worth, we have managed to fulfill not just a lot of clinical responsibilities, but academic as well.  Lent a hand in teaching a graduate course, taught not in one but two undergraduate courses, did undergraduate thesis advising, and eventually at the end of our school year, helped graduate a new batch of young bachelor’s degree holders of speech-language pathology, doubling the output of young clinicians in
the country for the first time in history 🙂

Great school year.  But we’ve missed blogging!  We’ve missed you!  And now we’re back. Hopefully this time we can put out choice articles more regularly.  More and more clinicians, teachers, parents, and clients have been asking us for app recommendations.  Several app developers have asked us to do reviews of their apps.  And just as importantly, we owe several of our friends app reviews.  Thanks for putting your trust in us and for being so patient (we are bowing here in respect)!  

If there is a good example of serious bottlenecking of processing resources, our workload these past months is one.  Here’s hoping we can allocate ourselves appropriately this time 😉

There is much to talk about the new Conversation TherAppy

Conversation TherAppyWe enjoyed ourselves so much with Tactus Therapy Solutions’ latest app that we almost let this month pass without releasing a complete review about it.  Conversation TherAppy landed in our iPad just in time for Aphasia Awareness Month this June 2013, and it arrived heavy with features.  

When we received a copy of the app, we planned to field-test it with a couple of clients.  We ended up using Conversation TherAppy with all of our school-age kids as well as with our adult clients with stuttering, aphasia, dementia, and verbal apraxia.  In a couple of weeks, our fellow clinicians were borrowing our iPad and trying the app with their clients.

Conversation TherAppy 2Conversation TherAppy is the eighth release from its developer. Given the success of the apps that preceded it, we were eager to discover what the latest app has in store for us.  The app’s Home Screen greets the user with these:

  • the Start button
  • User Hub
  • Settings button (top right corner)
  • Users tab (on the screen’s left)
  • Connect, Tutorial, and Other Apps (on the bottom of the screen)

Let’s start with Settings, for a good reason.  If you are a clinician and you are about to use the app with your client, you will want to lay the parameters out first.  Settings allows you to:

  • select the Number of Trials: minimum of 5, or choose to tackle All items
  • Content:  filter the pictures according to what is appropriate for your client (Child, Teen, Adult)
  • Scoring Sounds:  want the Default ping? The more subtle Click?  Or mute all scoring sounds?
  • Email Results To: enter the primary email address to where the results can be sent to
  • Links:  toggle Links on/off
  • Customize Database:  this is the heart of Settings and will allow you to:
    • select the category of the content you wish to customize and include/omit pictures from that category
    • edit the questions that accompany the Question Types

It is in the User Hub where you get to enter each client’s name.  It likewise allows you to:Conversation TherAppy 5

  • enter notes about each specific client
  • include / omit questions
  • delete sessions

Results are tabulated in the User Hub as well. Select a username from the list on the left of the screen and the Results window will show you the date, the time it took for the client to finish the session, his/her score by the total number of items and in percent values, option to email the results, or delete the entry. 

The Users tab on the left of the screen allows one to quickly select the user/s who will participate in the activity.  Tick the box next to the name then tap Start.  The app (as with most of Tactus Therapy’s apps) allows you to select your categories first prior to starting with the session.  By default, the following screen will show you:

  • a picture that shows the topic that is up for discussionConversation TherAppy 3
  • ten buttons that flank the picture, each representing a Question Prompt:
    • Describe
    • Define
    • Remember
    • Decide
    • Feel
    • Infer
    • Predict
    • Narrate
    • Evaluate
    • Brainstorm
  • User Names on tabs (maximum of 6 users on the iPad, 4 on the iPhone/iPod Touch)
  • Home button on the top left corner
  • Progress bar on the top right corner
  • Backward and Forward arrows on the lower corners

Explore the app by downloading the Lite version here.

Conversation TherAppy 4While it downloads, read on as we explain what we love about this app:

  • clear, sharp images:  This mattered a lot.  A 64-year old client of ours has dementia and her cognition fluctuated a lot.  We used Conversation TherAppy with her and directed her attention to specific parts in each picture, particularly the emotions in the subjects’ faces.  She consistently identified these emotions and managed to note other details in most of the pictures as well.  Image quality was certainly a priority when this app was developed.
  • engaging topics were well portrayed in the pictures:  four 11-year old boys made up our social skills group.  Considering how volatile their attention spans were, it was rewarding to note that the app helped in drawing out a detailed conversation from them.  They chose which pictures and topics they wanted to expound on.  The scene that showed rudeness was one of their favorites because of the varied reactions the subjects had in response to the rude moviegoer.  They argued about their personal interpretations of verbal abuse.  The picture auto theft drew much emotion from our client with dementia, enabling her to summon enough processing powers to participate and explore the topic further.
  • heaps of options in Customize the Content:  we honestly do not have anything else to ask for because the app allowed one to:
    • double-check which topics are unlocked for all populations and which ones are restricted to Teens and Adults or Adults only
    • select or deselect which ones can be included in an activity
    • edit the questions… per topic!
  • user names and scoring buttons are available and are conveniently placed:  It is not easy to keep track of each participant’s performance while doing any group therapy session, but with these User tabs, keeping track is as simple as tapping a button.  And since we expect the iPad to be on landscape mode with the clinician beside or behind it, putting the User tabs on top of the screen just made a lot of sense.
  • Conversation TherAppy 6User Hub keeps track of each user’s scores:  use the app, tap the buttons toscore, and allow yourself to get lost in the conversation.  Let the User Hub track each client’s scores (as long as you consistently use the scoring buttons).  Time and date are also logged in, so it is easy to monitor progress.  Options for emailing the results and deleting entries are provided.  And one more thing:  results can be viewed in graph form.  Yes:  GRAPH.
  • Question prompts are specific to each picture:  there is no better way to allow users to expound on each given topic than by asking specific, open-ended questions.  These questions encourage one to share opinions, thoughts, and stories of one’s experiences.  With the app’s customization features, it is easy to edit the questions and shorten these to match a client’s processing capacity, or even write the questions using the client’s native language (one that uses Roman characters).
  • 12 categories contains a total of 300 pictures accompanied by more than 3000 questions:  as we said, there is much to talk about this app… 3000 questions!

What we would love to see in future updates:  Try as we might, we ended up answering our own suggestions.  Bump up customizability and put in Add My Own Photo option?  The app covered a lot of daily life situations and issues.  An option to add another question prompt?  Edit one of the question prompts and customize it according to your client’s needs.  How about options to view the photo only and/or be able to zoom into it?  Turn off all question prompts, and if you really have to zoom into the picture, take a screenshot, open it in Photos, zoom in as much as you want.

In our opinion, Conversation TherAppy is one of the finest apps Tactus Therapy has ever put out.  With it being heavy on features and flexible with all its customization options, one need not hesitate in using it with any client.  Since we all aim to facilitate good conversational skills in our clients, this app may promise to be a mainstay in your device.  This app need not work hard to earn your love and tapping devotion.  It does its job and it does it so well, we guarantee you that you will use Conversation TherAppy over and over and over again.

Price:  $ 24.99
Weight: 85.6 MB
Updated:  26 May 2013
Version: 1.0
Compatible with: iPhone 3GS until iPhone 5, iPod Touch (3rd-5th Gen), iPad.  Requires iOS 5.0 or later.
Seller:  Tactus Therapy Solutions Ltd
Target Population: children, adults
Awesome if you want to work on:
  • aphasia
  • Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, cognitive-communication disorders
  • stuttering
  • learning disability
  • autism
  • ADHD
  • verbal apraxia, etc.

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

 

It’s AppSale Time for Better Hearing and Speech Month, May 2013!

BHSM

It’s that time of the year again when we all perk up and check our devices for extra storage space because it’s raining apps on sale / gone FREE this Better Speech and Hearing Month, May 2013!  Check out what we’ve got for you:

Note:  The prices and dates indicated below were obtained from app developer announcements, blogsites and from the App Store.  Prices may change without further notice. Make sure you double-check the apps’ quoted prices before buying.

Tactus Therapy Solutions (on sale May 1-15, 2013)

Smarty Ears

Virtual Speech Center

Super Duper Publications (from $2.99 to $1.99):

Super Duper Publications:

Keep checking back at this list as we update it with more useful apps that have gone on sale!

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

 

 

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