Advertisement

Advertisement

Apple and Android AAC Apps for Non-Speaking Kids

Tablets have come a long way to support non-verbal and non-speaking kids!

Communication is a major challenge facing children living with complex disabilities, contributing to the social isolation and loneliness that many families experience. Technology increasingly offers a variety of communication solutions that help kids to exercise increased control over their lives.

Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices empower children with limited communication abilities to connect with others. Many AAC apps are available on the Apple and Android operating systems.

Simple free downloads enable simple messaging (like ‘yes’ or ‘no’) that you can use on your own tablet or phone. Paid apps are sold as software or with accompanying hardware, like eye-tracking technology, catered to children who may not be able to use their hands. They often have personalization options, including customizable communication grids, to suit your child’s abilities, range of mobility, and preferences.

Choosing the right communication app

Free apps can also be useful basic solutions, although the quality and amount of free content vary. Many free apps require ‘in-app purchases’ to unlock full features, and some switch to subscription or paid models once the developers have established the app’s popularity.

Paid-for or subscription apps tend to have more functionality, customization, and resources than free options. Before committing to a purchase, check if there’s a free trial period.

While many apps are used directly with your tablet, some can be accessed with technologies that you’ll need to purchase separately. Eye-scanning devices, for example, are a popular option that makes selections by tracking your child’s gaze. ‘Switches’ are touch-sensitive ‘buttons’ that can be linked to your tablet and activated by your child’s finger, foot, chin, voice, or even the blink of an eye.

Overwhelmed by choice? Speech therapists work with children who are nonverbal and may be able to offer guidance on which AAC apps would be best suited to your child. Otherwise, you can sort through your options by checking online reviews in the app stores or through a simple internet search. Just remember that the functionality and usability of AAC apps are personal to each child—what one reviewer sees as a negative could be neutral or even a positive for your child. You may ultimately need to try various apps to find the right fit.

Below are a number of the most popular AAC communication apps. (Prices are as of March 2024. Keep in mind that some apps are only available in certain regions.)

Proloquo2go by AssistiveWare

Image of Proloquo2Go-screen
Credit: Proloquo2Go

The award-winning, highly flexible Proloquo2go AAC app can be tailored to your child’s abilities. The screen is arranged into customizable grids, with symbols representing words and simple phrases that play at the press of a button.

You can change the access method, customize the symbols, or edit or add new buttons to the grid (including using your own photos, which adds a nice level of personalization). Choose from over a hundred speaking voices—with an option to add personalized voices—in English, Spanish, French, and Dutch.

  • Level: Beginners to advanced users
  • Age: 5+
  • iOS: Apple
  • Cost: from $250

TD Snap by Tobii Dynavox

Image of TD Snap interface
Credit: Tobii Dynavox

TD Snap is another highly customizable software that adapts to your child’s communication abilities and preferences. It features grids of resizable buttons which play a word or phrase aloud. Buttons can be edited with symbols or photos, with diversity settings to change skin and hair color.

Prefixed selections make it easy to organize content for quick and easy use in typical daily situations. Back up and manage the app by creating a cloud-based account, enabling access to the wider community of TD Snap users using your personal computer. Dive deeper into these features and others with the app’s great “Help and Tutorials” section.

  • Level: Beginners to advanced users
  • Age: 4+
  • iOS: Apple   
  • Cost: $49.99 + monthly subscription

LAMP Words for Life

LAMP Words for Life is a symbol-based app that aims to build children’s confidence and expand their vocabulary. Features include a “one motor pattern per word” function, where individual words are produced with a unique motor movement, and “Vocabulary Builder,” which focuses on teaching your child specific words and sentences of your choosing.

  • Level: Beginners to advanced users
  • Age: 4+
  • iOS: Apple
  • Cost: $199.99

TouchChat

TouchChat offers highly customizable grids and boards that allow your child to choose the number of symbols they want to see alongside pre-programmed boards designed for specific age groups. It has a nifty split-screen capability, allowing your child to access their communication board while viewing an image or video.

It features a built-in switch-scanning function. If your child has restricted hand movement, the app can be controlled using the facial recognition capabilities of the newest iPad Pro and iPhone models to track your child’s head movements.

  • Level: Beginners to advanced users
  • Age: 4+
  • iOS: Apple 
  • Cost: A 30-day free trial is available, plus you may be eligible to obtain the app on a funded device. Details on their website.

Free AAC apps

Free speech assistant apps use the paid options’ grid, symbol, and text-to-speech features—but on a much more basic level. Some offer simple customization, such as style and size of buttons and volume control. In-app purchases are often required to access more advanced features.

Trying some of these apps may be worthwhile before committing to paid models. Some of the most popular free (or nearly free) apps include:

  • Speech Assistant AAC, free on Android: ASoft creates a range of AAC apps, including a free version that offers message categories using symbols, emojis, and photos, simple phrase creation, and an option to create or import voice recordings.
  • SoundingBoard, free on Apple: This app can be used across the Apple device range and uses the AbleNet symbol library allowing access to hundreds of symbols. Your child can create a range of versatile and customizable boards with up to 20 messages in each one. The boards can also incorporate photos.
  • SymboTalk, free on Android: The app offers a variety of customizable message boards using both a prepopulated symbol library and bespoke symbols your child can create. It also allows for syncing online so that message boards can be accessed on any device.
  • Alexicom AAC, available for $0.99 on Apple: The symbol-based app allows for the creation of an unlimited number of pages, a new range of text-to-speak voices, editable cells, photo import functions, and word prediction features.

If your child has limited motor control, is new to communication apps, or wants an option to communicate quickly and simply, Yes/No apps allow them to reply to questions with a simple “yes” or “no.” Several free versions are available for both Apple and Android.

No matter which app you choose, take some time to play around with it first. It’s important that you can confidently use the app yourself so you can help your child to get the most from the software.

To ease your child into using communication apps, you might want to start with a fun app to introduce the concept of communicating via a computer. For example, with your help, your child can use MyTalkingPet (available on Android and Apple) to add basic but playful animations and voice recordings to photos of pets and people, then share their creations via social media or email.

As technology advances, the availability and functionality of communication apps have improved. While this range of choices might feel overwhelming, it’s ultimately a big plus for families: More options will eventually reduce prices and speed the development of new technologies, enabling children with complex disabilities to take part in ever-more meaningful communication with those around them.

Disclosure: Occasionally, we include links to recommended products. When you purchase a product through a link, we may earn a small percentage of the sale, at no cost to you. These sales contribute to the operation of our site, and help to keep content free to read.

Share This:

Advertisement

Comments

Leave a Comment

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Posts

Advertisement

Share This

Stay up to date

 alt=

Sign up to our monthly newsletter

Stay updated with the latest news and info.

Advertisement

Recent Stories

Advertisement

Popular

Advertisement

Stay up to date

Stay up to date

 alt=

Sign up to our monthly newsletter

Stay updated with the latest news and info.

Advertisement