Sunday, June 28, 2009

iPod Touch/iPhone App Round Up for Users with Significant Disabilities and Those who Teach Them

Updated June 19, 2010

Please note YGWYPF notation means "You get what you pay for!"
T&T means the blog author uses this application
BIC is Best in Category, based only on the authors impression, no other criteria are in play
* means that the app has been used by the author

  • Answers: Yes No - is an app that simply says yes or no, press the green yes to say yes or the red no to say no, you can have a male or female (or cartoon) voice, simple and works great in a pinch ($.99) T&T*
  • AutoVerbal Talking Soundboard - an AAC app which uses clip art like icons and low quality voices when off of wifi and high quality voices when on wifi, has a limited number of programmable buttons, many have noted it is currently buggy, compelling horizontal scrolling looks interesting ($.99 with rumors to be going up to $29.99) YGWYPF
  • Expressionist - is a app by Adastrasoft it holds 120 common expressions in 7 catagories and 1000+ nouns using photographs as identifiers in addition to a black and white line drawing of a cartoon-like person to create "composite images", the system design is a little baffling to me just looking at the screenshots and videos
  • EZ Speech by Gus Communications is a text-to-speech system with NeoSpeech voices and a system of folders to organize and speed things up.  No pictures symbols. ($795!!!!)
  • Grace - A PECS style app for all the iDevices that uses simple color drawings in a PECS like set up.  ($37.99)
  • iComm - a newer photo based AAC app with recorded voice and yes/no confirmation of choices, iPhone and iPad only (free for introduction period and price will scale upwards to $27.00, some reports of being "nagware"*
  • iConverse - this is a "you get what you pay for" augmentative and alternative communication solution, offering six choices with a decent voice and clip art icons and a horrendous text-to-speech voice for user created buttons ($10) YGWYPF*
  • Look2Learn AAC - yet another "you get what you pay for" app, this one is photo based (comes with 80) and allows you to change sizes of the images, basically this allows the user to communicate "I want" messages only (only 4 buttons with vocal output). ($25) YGWYPF*
  • My Talk Tools - Voice output AAC using photos and emoticons, not research based, nor designed for intuitive communication or motor planning based use ($35.99) YGWYPF*
  • Small Talk - by Lingraphica is a photobased communication program designed for adults who have had strokes (free - subscribe for more)*
  • Speak It! - text to speech program with choice of voices ($1.99)*
  • Proloquo2Go - a complete augmentative and alternative communication solution using current research in the field, SymbolStix communication symbols and a high quality voice and many highly customizable features ($189.99) T&T, BIC see TLWMSN review*
  • Talk - by AlterMa Inc is a text-to-speech application ($0.99) YGWYPF*
  • Talk Assist - a free program that allows keeping selections of text-to-speech to click on and play or typing and playing messages with TTS, voice is very low quality (free) *
  • TapToTalk - AAC seet up in "albums" of "emoticon" style clip art, the starter album is free and may be enough for beginning communicators, more advanced albums and original program requires a subscription (free starter, $99 a year subscription) *
  • Tap Speak Button - essentially a Big Mac Button (or single message voice output switch) where you record a message and touch the screen to play it back, you can store multiple messages and use when needed ($9.99) T&T*
  • iAssist Communicator - a photograph based AAC app with 4 photos and related speech output per page over multiple pages, customizable ($29.99)
  • iBlissSymbols - not many people still use Bliss symbols with individuals with severe or multiple disabilities, but if you happen to work with someone who was talk Bliss Symbols this app is for them, a Bliss Symbols based communication app!  (Lite is free, Full is $18.99)*
  • iCoon - a global icon dictionary using very simple line drawings and digital pics, meant for travelers, may have other implications in our field
  • iInteract - an odd communication board set as it has no regard for the heirarchy of symbolic representation, the main board is text based and subsequent boards mix clip art and photographs; there are a total of six boards at this time and a choice of a boy or girl voice ($8.99) YGWYPF*
  • iMean - is a letter board based AAC system with word prediction for literate AAC communicators, currently no voice output ($4.99) YGWYPF*
  • Locabulary - is a primarily text based (some small digital pics), list based, sentence chaining, AAC or vocab teaching or prompting system that uses GPS to determine vocabulary on the page (i.e. puts you to the coffee page in Starbucks) currently the lite version is up for beta testing; hopefully they are putting together a really great expansion of Locabulary because the beta is very promising T&T*
  • iTake Turns - simple app allows user to say, "my turn" and "your turn" in a male or female voice ($1.99)
  • SynthSpeech - allows you to use an adjustable voice to create text-to-speech selections, which can be stored on a soundboard for AAC use ($1.99)
  • Yes/No Bilingual - allows the communicator to say yes or no in English or Spanish and in a male of female voice ($1.99)
Data Collection
  • ABC Data Pro -  complex data collection software for those that need it (27.99)
  • Behavior Tracker Pro - allows the users to log ABC, frequency or duration data and then see it graphed, supports multiple data collections at once ($9.99) T&T*
  • eCove Observation Software - five types of counters and timers to allow you to take different types of data (free)*
  • iBehavior - allows tracking of positive/negative behavior of multiple subjects, designed for teachers to track classroom behavior in general education (free)*
  • Percentally - data collection by tally or +/- which is automatically converted to percentages, allows for tracking multiple goals and objectives for multiple students at the same time ($4.99). T&T, BIC*
  • Tallymander - list based tally management, keep tally of multiple things (behaviors, data) at once and e-mail it
    Prompting/Visual Schedules
    • First/Then Visual Schedule - simple picture schedule allows three formats of viewing, however a limited choice of pictures and currently no means of importing images ($9.99)*
    • Halo Talk - by AdstraSoft this forced choice/prompting app is designed as pairs of opposites to use to offer choices from a field of two photos or to prompt to using a field of two photos, like the other AdstraSoft applications this uses the cartoon drawing of a person as well as photos ($33)
    • iPrompts - this is an ap allowing you to use photograph or clip art symbols to make visual schedules, pair with a count down time or make basic choices from a field of two (without speech output) ($50) (if you tried this a year ago, the updates make it more user friendly - still not worth $50, but more user friendly and no bugs)*
    • Picture Scheduler - this app shows a visual reminder (photo or video) at a specified time as well as playing a voice note to cue the user ($3)*
    • Step Stones - by AdastraSoft is a new app for visual schedules using photos the current version has 12 visual sequences, the new version to be released will add 15 more and allow user made sequences, the user can check off each step as it is done ($29) 
    • Visules - sets of individual or lists of picture cues to use separately or as routines. ($4.99) YGWYPF*
    Reward Charts
    • iReward - is essentially a "star chart" or behavior contract system for your iPod/iPhone ($2.99)*
    • Reward Chart - simple, early childhood type sticker charts for tracking multiple rewards over time for children (free)*
    Sign Language
    • Signing Time - the famous DVDs now have an app! Learn sign on your iPhone or iTouch
    • Sign4Me - SEE Sign Language Tutor using animated avatar ($9.99) *
    • Time Timer - the original Time Timer as an app, visual showing of time remaining, 10 sounds you can play when time is elapsed (we like the clapping for differential reinforcement of zero behaviors) ($4.99) T&T, BIC*
    • Time Jot - allows you to time things and keep multiple logs of those times, good as both a timer and for data collection*
    • Visual Count Down Timer - a stack of blocks that lowers as time counts down ($2.99)
      • 3D Brain - a 3D image of a brain with various view, labels and information about brain and brain disorders; very useful if you teach those with brain injury, seizures and various brain based issues like agenesis of the corpus callosum or microcephaly (free) T&T*
      • A_T_Chooser - it is hard to say something isn't worth $.99 but this isn't, basically it is supposed to give you an overview of AT options for various types of disabilities, if you know how to use Google or have ever been in a special needs classroom you don't need this app, let's just say if someone can't be bothered to remove the underscores from the app title don't but it! ($.99) YGWYPF*
      • ArtikPix - using SymbolStix Communication Symbols for flashcards and matching games this app gives teachers and speech therapists probes for working on articulation
      • A Special Phone - this is an app that allows dialing without looking at the key pad and a shake of the phone instead of pressing dial, additionally you can program six dial by photo numbers that allow dialing without knowing or mathcing numbers ($0.99)
      • Flick Tunes - allows a playlist to be controlled by sliding a finger or fingers across the screen, designed for drivers and others to control music without looking this app is wonderful for those with fine motor issues (be careful, your students will learn how to crank up the volume FAST!) T&T, BIC ($.99)*
      • Flux Tunes - very similar to Flick Tunes ($.99)
      • IEP Checklist - this app lists all of the sections of the IEP as required by federal law and allows you to create a checklist of those sections by student to be sure you have completed everything you need to complete before, during and after the meeting (free)*
      • Talkulator - a talking calculator, basic in design ($.99) *

      Picture and Photograph Symbols Sets

      Picture Symbols
      Alexia (free)
      Bliss Symbols ($) (available as Boardmaker Add-On)
      Clarity Symbols (formerly called LibSyms, currently avaliable on PRC-Liberator Devices in the UK)
      Do2Learn (free)
      Dynasyms ($)
      Mayer-Johnson Picture Communication Symbols ($)Mulberry Symbols (free)
      Imagine Symbols (free - site currently down)
      Northumberland LEA (free)
      Overboard Symbols ($)
      Pictos/PictoCOM ($)
      PRC Icons
      Scelra Pictos (free)
      Slater Symbols/PixWriter (free and $)
      Tango Symbols (only on the Tango device - $)
      Tech/Syms (AMDi) (free)
      Ultimos/Ultimas (Site in Spanish, Symbols multi-lingual including English) (Free)
      Universal Icon Maker (Enabling Devices) ($)
      Widgit Literacy Symbols ($) (also available as Boardmaker Add-On)

      Ellie Cards ($)
      Goosie Cards ($)
      Life in Focus Software ($)
      Photo Sentence Maker ($)
      Picture This Series ($) (also available as Boardmaker Add-On)
      Pics4Learning (free)
      Language Maker ($)
      Mrs. Riley (web-based subscribtion $)

      Tactile Symbols
      Object Symbol Resources ($)
      Tactile Symbol Directory (free)
      Talking My Way by Adaptivation ($)

      Some Software for Arranging Symbols (making boards and more)
      Boardmaker, Boardmaker Plus, Boardmaker SDP ($)
      PhotoSYMS (free)
      Picture This Series ($)
      Tech/Syms (AMDi) (free)
      Universal Icon Maker (Enabling Devices) ($)
      Widgit Literacy Symbols - Communicate in Print ($)

      Friday, June 19, 2009

      Teaching Summer School?

      Check out the Summer School for Special Education Ning.

      P.S. I am still looking for someone to take over the Teaching Learners with Multiple Special Needs Ning.

      Monday, June 15, 2009

      Headphones Options for Special Needs

      Many times our students can't tolerate headphones to listen to music, be it because of sensory reasons, positioning reasons or something else entirely classroom staff and families run out of options after trying the standard options of ear buds, headphones and behind-the-neck-headphones. After moving up the ladder to the expensive ultra padded options and having those fail as well sometimes you need to explore other choices:

      Unique Earphones
      Pillow Speakers
      Other options include child size headphones (if sizing is an issue), speaker stuffed animals and speaker cases and bags.

      Sunday, June 14, 2009

      Congratulations Colleen!

      Colleen Kelley* was one of my first students at the agency I currently work at, and will be leaving in about a week. This past Friday Colleen graduated from Perkins School for the Blind. Her family and friends gathered yesterday to celebrate her success.

      Colleen came to my class a 13 year old with a spirit that filled the room, but ready to meet some challenges facing her. She was not yet reading or writing, could count but not problem solve in math and had not yet learned many life skills. Luckily, Colleen is by far one of the hardest working students I have ever had and would succeed at these things and more.

      Colleen spent grades 8-12 with me and by the time she moved on to Perkins was reading and writing on a late second grade level, could accomplish most basic math problems including time and money, could navigate her power chair independently in the community, had accomplished the most important of life skills and had the beginnings of accomplishing communication competency using her ChatPC.

      At Perkins Colleen excelled at Horticulture and enjoyed OT. She was a cheerleader, loved music and dances and just hanging with her girlfriends in her cottage. She is hoping to keep working with plants and flowers in the future.

      Colleen has been my teacher as much as I was hers. I feel blessed that Colleen has remained a part of my life after she moved on from my class. Colleen taught me so much, including:
      • nothing is more important than positive expectations, especially when matched with a positive attitude - keep that bar raised high!
      • a good laugh makes it easier to learn anything (especially if you are laughing at people or things falling over)
      • slow and steady does, indeed, win the race
      • it is never too late to learn new skills, even if everyone else says you can't
      • unless you try, and try again, you never know what you can accomplish
      Congratulations Colleen, and thank you!

      *Colleen's name and photographs are used with both her permission and that of her guardian. The top photo is Colleen at age 21 at her graduation party, the bottom photo is Colleen at age 13 in her first year in my class.

      Friday, June 12, 2009

      Online Jukebox (scan songs with your switch)

      Fred Flare, a favorite novelty shop, has an online Jukebox with age appropriate music for teens and young adults.

      However, there is cursing in some songs, you need to pre-view before allowing students to use it.

      The music changes every month and there are several play lists to choose from. Position your switch over the "next" button (green with yellow arrow) and your switch user can DJ the music!

      Saturday, June 6, 2009

      What should I get for my new room?

      I have a feeling I have answered this before, so fogive me, but I have been e-mailed a couple of times recently by new teachers or teachers changing to a new population asking what they should ask for as the building blocks of adapted devices/assistive technology for their new classroom of learners with severe or multiple disabilities.

      Although the specifics will vary depending on the age group, the budget, the computers and other educational technology available in the room and other variables here are the items I would ask for:
      Note: try using the search feature to search this blog for ways to use any of these items.

      Other fun things to consider:
      • the Webber Functional Communication Game gets TONS of use in our classroom (I won it as a door prize at a conference a couple of years ago and it is one of my most prized possesions)
      • All About Me, All About You and Yes or No also get lots of use (although I often re-word questions based on the student to allow them to be answered using a particular communication system)

      Some friendly advice:
      Make sure you know the warranty and repair policies of the companies you are ordering from as well as their reputation for making durable products:
      Also keep in mind pretty much every AT company require a return authorization number for returns or repairs - so call first!

      Tuesday, June 2, 2009

      Sensory Friendly Films from AMC and the Autism Society of America

      The AMC Movie Theatre chain and the Autism Society of America have come together to offer families affected by autism a chance to see a monthly new release movie in a setting which is safe and less overwhelming. The call it Sensory Friendly Films. The light in the theatre will remain turned up and the volume of the film will be lowered. Families are encouraged to bring in their own snacks and viewers are welcome to move around the theatre, sing, dance or speak if they wish.

      Tickets are $4-6 and can be purchased by calling a local, participating theatre the day of the showing.

      Visit the website for dates and times of shows as well as locations of theatres. (The next showing is of The UP Movie and is June 13 at 10 AM.)

      If you enjoy the program, wish there was a theatre closer to you or want to comment on the program there is a link to do so on their website.

      Monday, June 1, 2009


      Congratulations to Rayann Brioche winner of the Stacey P. Ahern award for Disability Advocacy at Middlesex Community College through the TRIO Program.

      We are inspired by you and wish you the best!

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