For the purposes of this blog entry internet based AAC is augmentative and alternative communication which is primarily or solely created and stored on the internet (or the "cloud"). The pros of this arrangement are that you do not need to worry about backing up as much (you still need to back up), you can program while the user is still using the speech device (be it a dedicated device or an adapted tablet PC, netbook or iPad) and you often times have access to instant sharing of materials. The cons of this arrangement are you can not count on the speech software being research based, overtime subscription fees may cost more than purchased software at the outset, more unique AAC users needs may not be met without a specially designed speech device, not all users have high speed internet access (only 65% of homes according to FCC), new companies may not be there in the long run.
Internet Based AAC may be the future of AAC and "old school" companies like the "big three" (DV, PRC, T-ATI) may start considering having online backup and online programming of their devices which would be a welcome addition to their services (as long as prices don't increase). Here is a list of Internet Based AAC companies:
- Alexicom Tech: is an internet based AAC program offering photograph and clip art symbols, SAPI 5 voices, 1-10 columns and 1-10 rows per page, page sharing and on or offline use with the program running in your web browser, it also will run on iTouch or iPhone, prices are tiered with the highest price being $40 a month and the lowest price being $23 per user per month per year.
- MySitris: is for literate communicators wishing to make a phone call over the internet using Sitris as augmentative/alternative communication. It is priced per minute with 50 free trial minutes.
- Pogo Boards: is an online communication board building program which offers SymbolStix as well as proprietary symbols and text-to-speech for online talking communication boards. There is board sharing and a very limited free trial. Their rates are tiered based on number of users and number of months/years in subscription ($9.99 a month to $129 for 3 years for 1-4 users).
- Vizzle: is an online program that allows interactive lesson and communication board creations, much like programs like Boardmaker Plus, Clicker 5 or Classroom Suite (only no scanning). There is little information on the picture symbols set (although it appears to be a unified set) or the voices. Prices are not listed on the site, you have to call or e-mail (annoying that). It is primarily for students with Autism, although it may be used with students with many types of disabilities. The research for Vizzle was done out of Children's Hopsital Boston, John Hopkins and the Monarch Center for Autism. They off a 14 day free trial.