There are dozens of options for augmentative and alternative communication out there, ranging from free to just under $200. Choosing one should involve careful consideration and the advice of a speech-language pathologist. These four are standouts, and a good place to start:
First up is the industry leader ProLoQuo2Go by AssistiveWare. Once upon a time, a full service augmentative communication system cost about $8000. Now you can have all the features of a menu driven AAC device for the cost of an iPad and this $190 app. There is no other AAC app for the iPad that does all that ProLoQuo2Go does and there really are no limits to what you can say using ProLoQuo2Go. Use it as a menu driven picture communication system, or generate speech by typing on the keyboard. It comes with built in word prediction and it can adjust morphological endings to let your clients produce completely grammatically correct sentences. It’s fully customizable and it features the highest quality voices on the market.
If you own ProLoQuo2Go already, have you updated it recently and looked at all of the enhancements? Because as much as it did before, it does even more now. There’s a reason this app is at the top of the charts. This company is committed to serving the needs of their end users and is constantly working to improve the functionality of this app and its ease of use. Their newest voices that you can easily download from within the app are so realistic, you won’t believe they are text-to-speech. Check out their American children voices Josh and Ella and see for yourself. There are even expressions built into the latest version that will let your child put a little realistic whine into a “That’s not fair!”. The customization is easier than before and the programming goes even deeper.
With any software this extensive, there is of course a learning curve. To serve your clients well, you will want to invest the time into learning how to properly use this communication system. But there is now some integrated help built right into the editing screens and they have countless free webinars on their website to help you understand and use all that this powerful software has to offer. They also host some active Facebook discussion groups for parents and professionals.
I used to suggest that this app was your best bet for adults and high level language users, and for individuals who have suffered language loss. All still true, but with the new starter Basic and Core vocabularies and enhanced editing features, this app is now a perfect choice for a young emerging speaker as well. And it will absolutely grow with your child. Completely worth the price of $189.99 — and then some — and always improving.
For your youngest users just getting started, check out My First AAC by the people who bring us Injini. For my young and emerging language users, it’s so simple it’s perfect. The navigation is easy and the menus are visually appealing. A young child’s voice utters each phrase with appropriate intonation. Customizable and user friendly. In addition to a great starter AAC device, it’s turned out to be a wonderful teaching tool for my minimally verbal students. $25.
For your kids who are using AAC to communicate as they are first developing their language skills, SpeechTree by IAC Professionals could be the perfect fit. SpeechTree has nice clean, colorful graphics and pleasing voices. With its intuitive moveable parts on each screen, it’s easy to use right away.
Before buying SpeechTree, you should know that this app creates pivot grammar that you can expand on, but it is not set up to generate grammatically complex sentences. But that’s OK! Because developmentally, it’s where we want to start. SpeechTree even includes a teaching component, with lessons to teach concept development and organization — skills you need to have to work within a menu driven AAC system. This AAC app is fully customizable and fun to navigate. Like My First AAC, it also works wonders as a language model for my minimally verbal kids. See it up close right here.
For your young language learners with great communication potential, this could be exactly what you’ve been looking for. Priced appropriately (with the concept development lessons built in) at $170.
For a full service, high quality AAC app with incredible ease of use, check out SpeechHero from Bloomingsoft. Read the full review from September here. SpeechHero has the Acapela voices and the highly recognizable Symbol Stix images of the top of the line AAC apps, and it has a beautiful, clean interface. You can generate sentences by combining pictures or by typing in the words, and you can also use their predictive mode. The navigation is intuitive and the customization is easy.
Everything about this app is pleasing to the eye and easy to use, and you will find you can very quickly set up a top quality communication system and build from there. It’s not as powerful as ProLoQuo2Go, but for some speakers, it may offer everything you need and more.
See their video demo to learn more about whether this is the right app for you. A great value at $99.99.