Prior to getting my new AAC device, I was thankfully able to trial a few different programs – something I had never gotten to do previously. Because a lot of them are quite expensive, they’re not ones I could’ve tried out on my own.
I did a short series of AAC reviews during the trial period – specifically because I knew a lot of people have the same issue with access. If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you’ve likely already seen these videos, but for those who don’t have Instagram – this post is for you! I figured out how to upload these videos to Facebook and YouTube, and I’m hoping that I can embed the videos here to be helpful.
Friendly reminder that I’m not a speech therapist or assistive technology professional. I’m just an AAC user sharing their experiences with what works for them. Some people benefit from different types of AAC and different methods, and it’s important to keep that in mind. Some of my friends use eye gaze, switches, letterboards, and other forms to communicate. Light tech, high tech, no tech at all – all communication is important and should be valued regardless.
Go Talk Now
My overall thoughts of GoTalk after exploring it:
I was ready to throw that tablet across the room.
I didn’t (it was a trial device, after all), but it definitely got tossed onto a pile of pillows a couple of times.
It felt very limiting, and I didn’t like that. People deserve access to more than just requesting and colors. How else can we tell you if we’re in pain or what happened at school?
I also didn’t like how it would require extensive set up to be even remotely robust, and how the message window had to be manually added to every page.
Considering all of the other programs I tried that were way more extensive than this (some even cheaper!), I didn’t like it.
I did like the visual scene page though, and I think that might be very helpful for some people. I also liked that it had a keyboard page – so small bonus, I guess? There’s a few other features that make it useful, but I don’t know if it’s worth the price tag personally.
Compared to the last one I reviewed, this is a massive improvement in terms of having a more robust vocabulary!
Some of the things I liked was being able to have “context” folders based on what you’re doing for the day – which makes it easier to access the vocabulary you might need. I thought that was neat! In the video, I showed how I was able to change the ‘shopping’ one to ‘doctor’ – which made the medical words more easily accessible.
I also liked that the icons were SymbolStix, which is a personal preference for me. I wasn’t a big fan of struggling to figure out how to change the tense of words, because it can really change the meaning of your sentences.
I didn’t like the alphabetical keyboard, but I know a lot of AAC users who love those! That’s just a personal preference for me; it might be able to be changed to a QWERTY one – but I can’t guarantee that.
From first thoughts on using Predictable, it’s primarily focused on typing. I know of a few friends who love it – especially because it has some symbols in addition to typing.
I liked the predictive text (always good for the aphasia!) and that it has a button that will automatically play a message to tell people to be patient while you’re composing a message.
(My caregivers have learned that I’ll make certain sounds or have specific facial expressions when I’m wanting them to be patient while I type or choosing symbols – but sometimes I’ll tap VERY loudly on my device instead, depending on my mood. )
For this app, I also liked that some of the emojis had sound effects with them! It adds a little more emotion and expression, which I always enjoy.
I struggled quite a bit with navigation, but I know others may find this app more intuitive than me! I also had trouble understanding the layout of the symbols and making sense of some of them.
Being able to have things stay consistent helps my brain, and it didn’t quite feel consistent to me as I was switching around. There might be settings that I didn’t get a chance to mess around with too, so keep that in mind!
Again, I know some people who really love this app – so it comes down to personal preference!
LAMP Words for Life
I’m not a big fan of the symbols personally, but the more I used the device – the more I really liked Lamp! Why? Motor planning!
I was honestly surprised by how fast I got at learning how to navigate it. I was so happy flappy about it that I rushed to show my caregiver the next day once I figured out how to work the program! It still needs more fringe words, but it can be customized – and honestly, all programs should be customized and edited to fit each person who uses it anyway.
It reminds me a bit of Proloquo2Go with some of the motor planning stuff – especially as P2G is one of the primary apps I use, which makes sense as to why I liked LAMP!
The thing I like best from Grid is that it has a lot of options! There’s a lot of different programs to choose from, with some being better than others. You can get rid of the ones you don’t like from the screen.
I know people talk about how you can just transition programs over time to “grow”, but I think it’s important to start with a robust program from the beginning.
I don’t think some people realize how much muscle and motor memory goes into using AAC, and how learning a whole new grid size or even program can be overwhelming for us.
Besides – kids deserve all the language.
They have a lot to say!
Symbol Talker A and B seemed just a little limited to me, but C and D weren’t so bad – and I especially liked the symbol word prediction!
Super Core was especially fun because I liked the sound effects. I made the frog noise to my physical therapist once when they asked me how I was doing, and I just lost it laughing; that’s the height of comedy and you can’t tell me otherwise.
(Super Core Learning is the GoTalk of Grid though, so you can imagine how I feel about THAT.)
Beeline was very extensive which was nice, and Vocabulary for Life is aimed for young adults/college age – which was pretty neat to see!
The rest of the app has a keyboard, a camera function, some mini games with a chat function for using AAC to discuss them – some different things like that.
I think I also saw an option for PODD for Grid, but don’t quote me on it because I didn’t get to try it.
TD Snap (formerly Snap Core First)
Snap was one of the first symbol-based, high tech AAC programs I ever used – so I was excited to see this one on the trial device.
I eventually switched over to Proloquo2Go (which is the last one I’ll be showing from the original reviews!), but there’s a few features from Snap that I still use to supplement as well!
There’s a lot of different things I like about the app, but I really like how robust the vocabulary is! There’s a good mix of both children’s related things and adult things, and it can be tailored to what the AAC user themselves prefer.
Having access to all the language can be incredibly important, because you never know when a word might come up in conversation! It’s pretty customizable; I ended up changing up the main core board considerably after doing this review. It looks a lot similar to Proloquo2Go’s, but with some prediction buttons!
TD Snap also has a nice feature called QuickFires where you can tap it and it automatically talks for you, as well as another feature called Topics. Topics has different pre-programmed sentences for various subjects, which comes in handy!
I’m also really fond of the dry erase board function, the photo album feature, and the visual schedule section in the aphasia board! These things are huge for me, and make the app worth it. I also have a neurocognitive disorder along with the traumatic brain injuries, aphasia, and being autistic – so my memory isn’t always the greatest. Having those supports is helpful!
I do wish the voice customization was a little better, though. You can change the speech rate, but not necessarily the pitch.
As an important side note:
- Snap also comes with “supports” for things like scripts and visual schedules, but please use this only as a way to help support someone – not as a behavior management/compliance tool. AAC is our way to communicate, and it’s our voice. Don’t use our own voice as a way to do that.
If you try to turn AAC into a behavior/compliance tool or make it into simply another chore, we will learn to hate it. Augmentative and alternative communication can be a beautiful way to access the world around us. It’s like an entire language. Don’t take the joy out of that!
Proloquo2Go is one of the main programs I use for AAC, along with Proloquo4Text! I switch based on what my brain needs or what the situation is. Sometimes AAC users need more than one program – and even if we can type, symbol support can still be beneficial for us.
We actually learned in my speech therapy that I’ve been making more progress with short term memory recall – when I rely on symbols and images to help support rather than lists!
Some of the things I like about P2G is how some core words stay where they are, regardless of where you navigate. It helps me with motor planning and saving time. I also like how you can hold down a button to change the tense of the word or get its possessive. The color coding is also nice! For some reason, the colors make more sense to my brain.
It’s also got a storage section that has a lot more words options in it, and I’ve found the program fairly easily to edit for the most part.
I do wish it had word prediction in a symbol format specifically or a white board function like TD Snap has – but it does have very good voice customization options compared to some other programs! You can change the speed, the pitch, and the volume. Some voices have expressions with them that you can set as well, which can be fun.
It does have a keyboard and typing function in two different ways – through your regular keyboard (with text prediction!) or through a button-like keyboard on a page.
And that concludes the reviews! Other programs I’ve tried and liked include CoughDrop and SpeechAssistant AAC – but I don’t currently have videos of those.
Many of these AAC apps I’ve reviewed are on sale in April and in October – which is usually when I recommend getting them if you’re getting them yourself. A lot of the apps I’ve reviewed are expensive (which is why I was trialing them through speech), and sometimes they’re on sale for up to 50% off!
But because of this, it’s important to note that high tech AAC and speech generating devices can be inaccessible for a lot of people. Funding can be hard to find or get, insurance doesn’t always like to cover it, not everyone is able to pay out of pocket, and some people have specific access needs like switches, keyguards, scanning abilities, or eye gaze technology. A lot of popular apps can adapt to switches and a few do eye gaze, but the equipment can sometimes be costly too.
And not only that, but for many people who need AAC – others don’t presume competence or even consider AAC as an option. They either push only for speech or give up on communication as a lost cause, when that’s not the case at all.
For more information on Augmentative and Alternative Communication, I have another post you can check out here: All About AAC: A Guide to Augmentative and Alternative Communication Options!
It covers information about what AAC is, different types, some of the different AAC apps – and resources for funding ideas and links to other AAC users and nonspeakers’ works!
I hope that these reviews are helpful!