Speech pathologists play an important role in assessing people for augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). SLPs are trained in language development and can help teams figure out where they need to start. And SLPs are the only ones who can write an insurance report for AAC.
It is hard to make recommendations if you don’t know the features of different apps and devices. You need to consider which symbol set to use, how many icons are visible on the screen, and what personalized vocabulary is needed (fringe vocabulary). Most AAC apps work on the Apple iPad. A few also work on other platforms. Check with the app developers for information on other operating systems.
Free AAC Apps
Free AAC apps give you a place to start. They help you assess whether the person can interact with the screen of the iPad or recognize certain types of symbols. Sometimes, you need proof of concept and that’s okay. If you have an iPad, you can start by downloading these free apps.
Buyer beware, you get what you pay for. Free symbol-based apps may not give you access to generative language. Free text to speech apps may not give you an easy way to store sentence starters, or access to quick social language. These apps often require more setup. Here are some examples:
- Go Talk Now Lite: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/gotalk-now-lite/id953164338
- Program boards from scratch. You can include videos and audio files.
- Sounding Board: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/soundingboard/id390532167
- Pre-made communication boards and the ability to add and program new boards
- Verbally AAC: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/verbally/id418671377
- Text to Speech with an option for a paid premium version
- Talk For Me Text to Speech: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/talk-for-me-text-to-speech/id975096888
Some apps are designed for emergency communication. One example is Alexicom AT “Elements” AAC. These can be used in the ER or ICU: https://www.alexicomaac.com/elements-apps
Some app developers offer SLPs free download codes for evaluation purposes. Depending on the organization, you may have to take a few trainings, or provide your ASHA number. This is a great way to add to your evaluation toolkit and to get to know AAC. Here are some ways to get free apps.
AAC App Downloads for Evaluation Purposes
Go to MytobiiDynavox.com and Create an Account. Input your ASHA number and you will then have access to free downloads for apps like TD Snap (the new name for Snap Core First) and Snap Scene Lite.
To receive a copy of the TouchChat app, you need to apply to Saltillo’s TouchChat Partners Program. You grant them permission to list your facility as a ToucChat Partner Resource on their website.
To receive a copy of LAMP Words For Life, you need to apply to the App Partner Program and takes two trainings. You provide proof of training, and they will send you a download code.
The company that created Proloquo2Go and Proloquo4Text offers free apps on a case-by-case basis for evaluation purposes. You can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org. They have a limited number of codes, but you won’t know until you try. You can also reach out to them through social media.
Speak for Yourself!
You can go to the Speak For Yourself website and use their contact form. Explain how you will use the app for evaluations and AAC trials.
You can also contact app developers on their websites and on social media. Companies have other free resources, such as data collection and evaluation tools.
If you are a grad student or SLP who wants to learn more about augmentative and alternative communication, take a look at the AAC for SLPs modules on our website. Keep in mind that access to real communication requires access to high frequency words (Core Vocabulary). Whether using symbols, or written words, we all need to be able to new things!
Also, check out TechOWL PA on social media! Our handle is @TechOWLpa