★ First Impressions of Speech FlipBook

Speech-centric developer Tactus Therapy has released their latest new app, Speech FlipBook. From their description:

Speech FlipBook is an essential and affordable tool for all Speech-Language Pathologists, teachers, and parents. It’s as easy as 1-2-3 to practice speech, phonics, and reading in this 3-part flip book with onset, nucleus, and coda to create nearly any single-syllable word in English! Apraxia of speech, articulation disorders, dysarthria, and phonological awareness are just a few of the targets of this app perfect for children and adults.

I downloaded it shortly after release last Friday. Though acute care doesn't normally lend itself well to the use of apps, I do use them from time to time and am quite fond of Tactus Therapy.

First Impressions

Playing with Speech FlipBook so far, I've found it to have a welcoming design interface. As a general rule, I don't like page-turning animations (it's personal preference; I still respect the amount of work it takes to accomplish said animation). Fortunately, Speech FlipBook includes a settings page that makes it easy to adjust the app to your liking.

After turning the page-flipping animation off, I fleetingly thought it might be nice to have a "tap to flip" gesture control. However, upon further consideration, I decided I actually like that the upward swipe gesture is still required, as I could see myself tapping the screen at or below the letter as a visual cue.

One of the app's best features is the way all the sounds are organized in specific tables. This makes it easy to design a therapy session. For example, if I wanted to work only on vowel productions between bilabial sounds, I could select /p/ and /b/ for my initial sounds, turn off clusters and R-controlled vowels, and /p/ and /b/ for final sounds. This wasn't completely intuitive for me at first, but a quick view of this introductory video was all it took to get the hang of it. The touch targets are usually easy to hit, though on the Initial Sounds tab I've found that the voiced and voiceless touch contacts are close enough for frequent error upon contact.

Finally, I love the Record feature. I'm a big fan of biofeedback, and love that I could use this potentially for homework, especially knowing that patients could record themselves and then compare it to the model.

Future Ideas

While I don't yet have a complete use case for this app in my own work, I like the way it's making me think so far. For my own uses, one thing I would find helpful would be a way to track a session. I love this feature in other Tactus Therapy apps, as I find it useful to track progress.

Perhaps different "modes", such as Practice Mode and Scored Mode might be a nice option. I have a patient I'm working with right now who would love the chance to practice for a while and then try out a scored version so he could see how he does.

Along those same lines, I would love to be able to limit the number of flips at any given time. Progress could be shown both in terms of number of cards flipped as well as time elapsed.

The Takeaway

Speech FlipBook is a great addition to an already excellent line of apps by Tactus Therapy. Though brand new, it has much to offer already. I expect Speech FlipBook will carry on the Tactus tradition of quality improvements, regular updates, and support. You can download it today for a mere $5 in the app store.

★ AAC and iPads

Speech Dude extraordinaire Apophenikos on the "app-ified" state of AAC:

Those of us who’ve been in the field most of that 30 years have typically adopted the perspective of “well, this is raising the awareness of AAC to levels unknown” and “a rising tide raises all boats.” But are we so sure? Do we really think folks are getting some “better deal” because of the 100+ apps that are now available as “AAC solutions” – all of which claim to be The Answer, often supported by little more than some flashy words culled from linguistics and speech science, such as “core,” “morpheme,” “word,” “cognitive,” and, my favorite, “intuitive”. Toss in lots of exclamation points, a YouTube video of some poor kiddo having their face thrust into an iPad, and bingo… AAC in a box! I hear the product “experts” at Best Buy and the Apple stores are now recommending AAC solutions based on their years of experience in the field.

I feel like the potential for the iPad to be a great AAC device is not in the software. As The Dude pointed out in his post, there is no shortage of actual, good AAC software. What makes the iPad a compelling option is that the operating system itself is lightweight, mobile, and yet still powerful.

To me, what would be truly revolutionary would be to integrate an AAC system into the software keyboard itself. Then you could have access to it in every app you use, and you would be on a significantly more even playing field.