Let’s Give Them Something To Talk About

No Voice is Unimportant Poster

Language is like a garden that contains many types of flowers. We need to be able to ask questions, make comments, or even tell someone to take a hike!  We need to be able to communicate about a whole range of events and ideas. We need to be able to create narratives to make sense of the world around us.

Narratives share some common elements; a setting, an event, a response, and a resolution. All students need to practice describing and sequencing events to develop their narrative voice. By learning to weave a story, we gain the tools to make inferences by connecting the threads of unrelated pieces of information. There is also power in using this knowledge to make predictions about what is going to happen next. There are so many great skills involved in storytelling!

The ability to tell narratives arises from having conversations about shared topics, such as shared reading and everyday events (Soto, 2006). The ability to generate narratives requires access to language, as well as something to talk about.  All individuals deserve the right to tell their own stories. Learners with complex communication needs too often don’t get that chance.

So, where do we start?  Below, you will find a list of apps and websites that can be used to practice commenting/describing, reading, and creating narratives.  Have fun, tell stories, and make silly guesses!


    • MSQRD          Image of MSQRD app icon
      • Transform the way you look through amazing masks and effects! Turn into a panda, zombie or even face swap with your friends. Save and share photos and videos.  
    • Live Butterflies          
      • In this magical Augmented Reality experience, surround yourself with friendly butterflies indoors or out! Turn the screen and see all the butterflies flying around you. Touch the screen and watch them land.
    • Heads Up Game          Image of Heads Up app icon          
      • From naming celebrities, to singing, to silly accents — guess the word on the card that’s on your head from your friends’ clues before the timer runs out!
      • Use this app to practice describing, a sort of digital barrier game barrier game.
    • Facesnap  Image of FaceSnap app icon        
      • Make fantastic photos with crazy funny face filters including the popular Dog filters and many more animals filters. Add Stickers and Image Filters to make your snaps super funny.
    • Create a Bitmoji          Image of Bitmoji app icon
      • Bitmoji is your own personal emoji.  
        • • Create an expressive cartoon avatar• Choose from a huge library of stickers – all featuring YOU• Use Bitmoji in Snapchat, iMessage and wherever else you chat
        • Funny faces are always great for describing and commenting.
    • Image Spinner          Image Spinner app icon
      • Add your photos and spin to choose one to write about
      • Choose up to 10 photos and record 10 pieces of audio to create your own spinner. Press or shake the spinner and it will randomly land in one of the segments
        • Comment on the picture you landed on!

Sharing Stories

    • Interactive Book Apps          Image of Blue Hat Green Hat book cover
      • such as Blue Hat Green Hat, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, or Big Green Monster  
    • Priory Woods switch accessible videos           Image of Priory Woods website
      • With videos, such as Farting Dinosaurs, how can you lose?
    • Bookshare          Image of Read2Go app icon
    • Read2Go is an accessible ebook reader app that lets you read Bookshare books with ease on the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch.     
    •     http://www.kizclub.com/          Image of KizClub website
      • This site has tons of printable story props that can be used to support reading and telling stories.  You can print them in color, or black and white.

Creating Stories

    • Reading Comprehension Booster    REading Booster app icon      
      • for reading comprehension, but also story prediction, story grammar, could be used to structure a narrative
    • The Write About app          Image of Write About app icon
      • Endless student engagement with 175 included images, 375 text+voice prompts, OR customize with your own pictures. Kick-start all writing genres and watch reluctant writers soar!
    • TarheelReader.org          Image of Tarheel Reader icon      
      • A collection of free, easy-to-read, and accessible books on a wide range of topics. Each book can be speech enabled and accessed using multiple interfaces, including touch screens, the IntelliKeys with custom overlays, and 1 to 3 switches.
    • Wordless Videos on YouTube          Image of YouTube Icon
      • These provide a great opportunity to comment, as well as predict.  And many students love YouTube, so these provide an opportunity for student buy in.
    • Sock Puppets          Image of Sock Puppet app icon
      • Sock Puppets lets you create your own lip-synched videos. Add Puppets, props, scenery, and backgrounds and start creating. Hit the record button and the puppets automatically lip-synch to your voice.  You can lip synch to the voice of someone’s AAC device!
    • Pictello          Image of PIctello App Icon
      • Everyone loves to tell fun, engaging, and imaginative stories. Go ahead and make a social story or visual schedule for a child with autism or a slide show of holiday pictures for your friends – Pictello makes it a breeze to create and share! Whether you use the included natural-sounding Text to Speech voices, or record your own voice, Pictello is the perfect tool for visual storytelling.

Borrow an iPad from PIAT’s AT Lending Library and have fun telling stories!

Image of mountains with "We each have a story to tell"

We Each Have A Story Poster


Soto, G. (2006). Narratives of Children who Need AAC: Assessment and Intervention Considerations. ASHA Convention. Miami.

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Kathryn Helland

Kathryn is a certified speech-language pathologist and works with children and adults with complex communication needs. She has been with the TechOWL team since 2015 and is currently working on her doctorate. She would like to examine how to best support AAC users in higher education.

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