AAC, iPad Applications, Reviews

Speak for Yourself: App Review

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I’m super excited to share some information about Speak for Yourself, one of my all-time favorite AAC apps for the iPad! Since I’ve been learning about, and have used AAC apps on the iPad, the most common one I saw was Proloquo2Go. While that app has it’s place, the kiddos I saw that used it almost always came in with what I call “a mess of an iPad”. The buttons were not organized, and the kiddos often had to scroll pages and pages to find a single word. Gah!

So I set out to learn about all sorts of different AAC iPad apps. I liked AACorn but honestly, it didn’t come with a great vocabulary and new words took a century to add. GoTalk was great, but took a lot of work to set up and didn’t often provide a full language system that my kiddos needed…

Meet Speak for Yourself.

Speak for Yourself might look a little different than AAC systems you’ve seen in the past, but stick with me, you’ll love it.

Let’s start with the basics. Every word on SfY can be accessed using 1 or 2 hits. You read that right, you will never need to press anything more than 2 times to find a word. There is a home screen and the majority of home screen buttons have 1 corresponding secondary screen. That’s it. Super easy.

Below is the homepage with just “eat” (not that you’d ever provide access to just “eat” but bear with me) and then the secondary page for “eat”. Note that if you actually want to say “eat”, you just press the home button twice. This is the same way for all words on the home page. If you see “drink” on the homepage and press it, just press the button again to get the word “drink”.

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You might be curious how there are so many icons in the first picture of this blog post, and so few on the ones above. SfY allows you to quick open and/or close buttons depending on the level desired! All you need to do is touch the Open/Close words on the top bar, and you can select which buttons you want to give access to.

This is ALL of the homepage words open at the same time. It is definitely a lot of words, but I work with kiddos that use it so don’t rule it out!

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Obviously you wouldn’t want to start there, so below is how you can open and close buttons. The darkened ones are closed and the bright ones are open. Just touch them to switch back and forth and open or close what you want.

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Then when you’re done, you will only see the icons you’ve opened.

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You can do the same with the secondary screens as well. Check out the “eat” page below in the Open/Close setting. So many great options!

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Another great feature is that you can search for words. To do this, press the magnifying glass in the upper left corner when you’re on the home page.

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Type in your word. For this example, I’m looking for the word “swing”.

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When you select the word, SfY will automatically teach you how to find the word. See how “want” has a purple box around it? That box flashes to indicate you have to open that folder for “swing”

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Once you open “want”, you can see that “swing” has a flashing purple border as well! This makes it so easy to find words when you don’t know where they are. I also love how it increases the independence of so many of my kiddos! It’s a great feature for families as well because they can search for ANYTHING.

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SfY also has a full QWERTY keyboard in the bottom right corner!

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Another awesome feature (aren’t there so many?!) is called Hold That Thought. This allows you to save a message and access it later. This is a great place to store time sensitive messages so you can work on getting them ready ahead of time!

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You can add to or erase Hold That Thought messages at any time.

The overall love I have for SfY has mostly to do with the fact that is presumes competence in so many of our kiddos. In fact, verb tense is built in, in a way that makes sense! No more holding down buttons and accidentially getting verb tense boxes! If your kiddo is ready for verb tense, just open those buttons right next to the original verb. See below how I opened “plays”, “playing”, and “played” and they appear right next to “play”.

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While you probably won’t need to customize this app as much as others (it comes with 13,000 vocabulary words!!) it is easy to do. Just press and hold on an empty box and you can add an image, change the background color, alter pronunciation, etc…

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Another great feature is Babble, which allows a user to “play around with” ALL of the vocabulary in the system. Just press “Babble” and all of the buttons will open until you press “Babble” again.

A super useful feature that should be required for all AAC apps is a good locking system and SfY of course delivers. Just press “Lock”. To undo it, you need to get out of the app and unlock it in your settings! Tricky, tricky.

Let’s talk about why I love SfY and then I’ll give you some overall pros and cons. I love it because it puts an emphasis on using core vocabulary instead of so much fringe (colors, animals). The kids I know using SfY use words like “push”, “go”, “play”, “again”, and “more” the most!

I love SfY because the words never move. Did you realize that? The great thing about opening and closing vocabulary to grow a system is that once you open and use a word (let’s say “again”), that word will never, ever move. You will always be able to say “again” in the same way forever.

Going along with that, you cannot program in a word twice in different places. That means, if “swing” is already under “want” and you want to put it under “play” you will get a nice warning that this word already exists. When every word is only 1-2 button pushes away, there is absolutely no need to clutter the system with duplicate words! Horray!

Pros:

-Presumes competence, giving users a full language system that can grow with them

-Uses evidenced-based research such as motor memory (the buttons never move!)

-Easy to add new vocabulary when needed

-When you get it, can easily be set up/customized in ~10 minutes!

-Has a seriously active Facebook group to connect with other SfY users, parents, and professionals here

Cons:

-Not great for kiddos who cannot access tiny buttons. The buttons are fairly small and can be close together depending on how many you open. Need to be able to directly select small buttons for this to be a contender in my opinion.

-Costly, but so are any great AAC apps. ($199.99 in the iTunes store as of 02/18/15)

To read more about Speak for Yourself, check out their website here or see it in the iTunes store here.

Another AMAZING feature is that Speak for Yourself offers a free lite version to play around with and see how it works! Check that out here.

What are your favorite AAC apps?!

{thanks for reading}

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Shannon

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8 Comment

  1. Reply
    Janelle
    February 18, 2015 at 8:43 PM

    Oooooh, this does seem great! I don’t work with AAC much in my school board consultation job, and p2g has always intimidated me. This one seems a lot easier and intuitive.

  2. Reply
    Erin K
    February 18, 2015 at 9:17 PM

    I like SFY. I also like LAMP Words for Life and TouchChat HD with the Pixon set up! Those 3 are my go to core word apps, I’ve tried to make P2G core word and motor planning accessible but it takes a lot of work!! I’m not sold on their core word offerings.

  3. Reply
    Emily
    February 22, 2015 at 4:19 PM

    This looks awesome! It seems similar to LAMP. How do they compare?

  4. Reply
    Katie Graf
    March 30, 2015 at 3:39 PM

    This is will be on sale though Itunes on Thursday April 2, 2015 for 50% off

  5. Reply
    John Wahlburg
    June 18, 2015 at 2:59 PM

    We have switched to CoughDrop. We like it because it can be used on all devices. The students can use it on the school iPads but if they have android, windows, smartphones at home, they can still access their same boards. Many of our students can’t afford iPads.

    1. Reply
      Ettina
      March 25, 2016 at 12:21 PM

      I’m a CoughDrop fan too! I’d love to get SfY, but it’s out of my price range and I’m an Android user anyway. CoughDrop is easily affordable and works on many more platforms than SfY. And so far the only thing SfY seems to do that CoughDrop can’t is the Babble function.

  6. Reply
    Sue M
    October 18, 2015 at 4:50 PM

    Proloquo2Go introduced version 4.0 this summer. It has much expanded and improved Core language vocabularies, including multiple sizes and both landscape and portrait.

    It’s very different and much more user friendly then previous versions.

    1. Reply
      Shannon
      October 19, 2015 at 9:51 AM

      I totally agree! I really LOVE the new Proloquo2Go, especially compared to the older version. 🙂

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