CTA is now providing consultation services to provide support to families and school-based teams around programming and using Applications now available for smartphones, iPod Touch/iPhone/iPad and Nintendo DS, which provide user-friendly, socially-relevant augmentative communication systems for children with limited expressive language abilities.
Tap To Talk is an application which is currently available for the iPod Touch/iPhone and iPad, as well as Nintendo DS, and will soon be available for Android smartphones. This application is an ideal introductory program. It is a picture-based voice-output system which is organized through categorical “albums”. By pressing a picture/icon on the home screen, the child can choose an album of pictures within that category. Further branches of choices are then available as determined by the child’s communicative needs. Each time a key is pressed, recorded voice output is generated. This output is recorded by the programmer and can range from single words to complete sentences. This application comes with a limited picture library and allows for importing of additional pictures/icons/photos. Programming of this application is remote and can be accomplished from any computer.
Proloquo is currently available for the iPod Touch/iPhone and the iPad. This application is most suited for augmentative communication users whose communicative abilities/needs are beyond the single-word level. It is a picture-based voice-output device which is extremely flexible with regard to level of communication output. All of the “pages” are inter-linked and provide for complete control over the complexity of expressive output. The speech-output is text-to-speech, so no voice recording is required. All of the parameters are flexible including the type of voice (male/female, adult/child, etc), the rate of speech and the size and number of icons per page. Programming of this application is relatively straightforward; however, doing so in a manner which is most meaningful and accessible to a specific user is more difficult and should ideally be overseen by a speech-language pathologist. This application comes with an extensive picture library, but also allows for importing of additional pictures/icons and photos. Programming of this application is not remote; it is tied to Apple’s iTunes, and all programming must occur on a single computer.
The SLP’s at Children’s Therapy Associates have experience with programming both of these applications and are now offering to share this experience with families and school-based teams through the following models:
- CTA clinician provides programming in-service to school-based team: With this model, a CTA SLP would come to the school to meet with school-based staff regarding either or both of these applications. The information could focus upon general programming principles OR child-specific needs. This service would be billed as on-site time only, unless additional programming supports were deemed necessary.
- CTA clinician as primary programmer: With this model, a clinician at CTA would provide programming services for school-based needs and the programming hours would be billed to the school on a monthly basis.
- Collaborative programming between CTA and school-based SLP’s: With this model, the CTA clinician would be responsible for programming the device for family, home and community needs, while the school-based clinicians would be responsible for programming for school-based/curriculum needs. All those involved would agree to collaborate closely with one another to ensure that a consistent communication modality is maintained..