Following the success of Comprehension TherAppy, Writing TherAppy, and Naming TherAppy is the long awaited fourth member of the family: Reading TherAppy. We here at iSPeak App have time and again lauded the beauty, usability, and intuitiveness of Tactus Therapy Solutions‘ apps, thus, needless to say, we had high expectations for Reading TherAppy. However, this early into our review, we must say right away that Tactus Therapy did not disappoint!
Naturally, one must keep in mind that given the app’s name, reading comprehension was what the app is after, so we did not expect sounds nor voice prompts. The developers’ webpage also made it clear in the app’s description. For anybody who has used either Comprehension TherAppy or Naming TherAppy, expect a similar look and layout on the app’s main screen. This time however, the theme color is red. There are four modes laid out for the user to choose from:
- Phrase Matching: choose the phrase out of 4 phrases that best matches the picture
- Sentence Matching: tap the sentence out of 4 sentences that best matches the picture
- Phrase Completion: select the word out of 4 choices that will complete the phrase shown
- Sentence Completion: the app shows an incomplete sentence and the user is to select the word out of 4 word choices that best completes that sentence
Tap on the main screen’s upper left corner and out pops the app’s instructions with brief descriptions about each mode, app settings, and credits plus contact details. Tap on the upper right corner of the app’s main screen and you access the Settings where you get to choose:
- the maximum number of trials or exercises that will be presented in each practice session
- default email address to which results or scores may be sent to
- child-friendly mode which, if switched on will remove items containing adult themes
We started the app and immediately got busy completing phrases and sentences. Some of our co-therapists wanted to give the app a go and after a few minutes told the others about this latest therapy app. The advantage of working in a big private therapy clinic.
Naturally, no review of iSPeak App’s is ever complete without us taking the app out for a field test. Since our present caseload did not match the audience Reading TherAppy targetted, we were lucky to find one willing participant. A friend asked us to see her elderly father, Mr. M., and check his readiness for an iPad. After walking him through the iPad’s features, we set up Reading TherAppy in front of him and started him on Phrase Matching. When we saw how fast Mr. M. was going through each question, we changed the activity to Sentence Completion. As we watched him focus and process each picture and sentence, we gathered our thoughts about Reading TherAppy:
We were happiest about the following:
- snappier than the previous apps: the app loaded and started faster as compared to its older brothers. At 7.6 mb in weight and minus sound and voice files, this was an expected observation. This may matter to some users for whom every second counts.
- category list: just like Naming TherAppy and Writing TherAppy, a category list pops up before each mode. Tap on any category you want added to your activity and the items are presented in random.
- added–VERBS and ADJECTIVES: this app can’t get any more generous than that! Comprehension TherAppy’s verb and adjective sets are offered as in-app purchases but Reading TherAppy has both sets already included in its category list. And with these extra two sets, this only meant one thing…
- A LOT OF items to choose from: Tactus Therapy has continued to be generous in their database contents: Writing TherAppy boasts of a collection of over 500 items and Naming TherAppy has 400 items in its first 2 modes and 500 items in flashcards. Reading TherAppy’s category list carries a total of 467 items with each mode containing even more items.
- clear, colorful photographs: pictures were clear and detailed enough to allow a user to take note of finer details. The size and distance of the pictures to the phrase/sentence appeared sufficient.
- big, clear fonts with sufficient spacing: the font and font sizes were similar to that of Writing TherAppy’s
- correct answers position themselves: each correct answer goes center and under the picture (and in completion activities, the word moves to position itself on the blank)
- incorrect answers gray out: the word choices are still there, but tap on an incorrect answer and the font color fades a few shades down, narrowing down possible answers for the user.
- well-chosen foils: most items contained 1 distinctly unrelated foil, while other word choices were a bit more related to the target answer. A user is encouraged to read carefully and choose an answer well.
- features that were important to any therapy app were retained: the scoring system is similar to that of its app siblings, discreet correct and incorrect answer sounds were still present, and a Results pop-up window still comes out at the end of each activity, with options to email the results to a preset email address.
We realized that the app’s target clientele are those with intact reading prerequisite skills and can go unfazed by long words and sentences, because otherwise we wished that there were ways to select difficulty levels. Writing TherAppy had easy, medium, and hard modes built in. For Reading TherAppy, a similar system may be a welcome feature, especially if it can be used to:
- filter out concrete picture stimuli (gold bracelets) from abstract concepts (a family on a cruise ship looking out to sea for “family vacation”)
- separate short phrases (“hot water”) from long ones (“brown haired boy” or “sailing the open sea”)
- pick out short sentences (“She fed the cats.”) from long ones (“The forest cannot be seen due to trees.”)
- select the number of choices to be shown: which can be similar to what Comprehension TherAppy has, where one can select the field size / number of words to choose from (or Auto, where the app adds/reduces the number of choices depending on the user’s performance).
Of course, one can always use small black plastic board cutouts to cover words and sentences (like we do) should there be a need to reduce the number of word and sentence choices.
Somewhere in the middle of the Sentence Completion activity, we realized that mode was set at 50 trials. Mr. M. remained on-task even as he passed Item # 32, which was amazing for someone who was said to tire a bit faster than usual. He worked on the iPad as if he’s had it for some time already, tapping on his chosen answers and reading each sentence carefully. Eventually, we commented, “It seems like you are liking the challenge here.” He gave us a big smile and said, “I am liking the sense of accomplishment!” Wow.
The special care and consideration that Tactus Therapy Solutions has given to each app they’ve created stood out in Reading TherAppy: clear and distinct photos, carefully selected reading stimuli and foils, challenging yet engaging reading comprehension activities, tasks that were appropriate for use by older kids and adults, and a rich database of categories to choose from. It is hard not to realize the amount of work that went into designing this app nor the special thought given to each item within it. It is clear that the developers had consciously kept in mind the numerous clients whom they hope this app could help. Reading TherAppy gave our friend Mr. M. the invaluable sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. One can only but imagine how many other individuals can feel the same just by using this app.
- reading comprehension
- focused attention
- visual processing