Bilingual AAC Apps

This page is a reference for individuals with needs for bilingual augmentative alternative communication (AAC).  It is a list of apps for multiple platforms that have been divided into medical, functional communication, and social communication sections. Reviews were from individuals who had experience with the apps and gave feedback through the iTunes app store or blogs. 

The medical apps have distinct medical terminology functionality.  The functional communication apps are designed for open dialogue with a communication partner.  The social communication apps require pre-programming to relate a story or an event. 

Ideal candidates for these apps would have limited verbal communication and manual dexterity.  Most of the apps would require fine motor control for typing or manipulating the pages. 

Medical

SmallTalk Intensive Care    

  • Purpose: An app to help patients with difficulties speaking (whether it's because of an impairment or because of an operation) express their needs to medical care providers in the ICU. Users choose from picture-based vocabulary to “speak”phrases like, “I am in pain,” or “I want to be comforted.” The pictures that match the words make this app useful for non-English speakers as well.
  • Languages:  English only but pictures are useful for non-English speakers.
  • Price: Free
  • Platforms: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch. Requires iOS 3.0 or later.
  • Reviews: On the iTunes store, the average review was 4.5/5 stars. Reviewers from the app store found the app useful for the ICU, though one user said that the interface “was not great.” The pictures are self-explanatory and make the app a convenient tool for non-native English speakers.

Phrase Board 

  •  Purpose: This iPad app is designed for patients with speech difficulties. Users can indicate where and how much they hurt with scrollable lists and a chart of the human body. Phrase Board also lets users type custom messages, or even draw messages. The app is text-only, requiring the user to understand text without picture supports. 
  •  Languages: French, Spanish, German, Italian, Arabic and Swedish versions available through an in-app purchase.
  • Price: Free, Other languages available for $2.99
  • Platforms: iPad. Requires iOS 3.2 or later.
  • Reviews: On the iTunes store, the average review is 2.5/5 stars. One user said Phrase Board “has all of the basic functions needed for a patient’s communication needs when speaking is not an option.” The main downside is the lack of a speech functions, but as one user noted, “what makes it worth looking at is the free hand 'draw' feature that lets you draw with your finger if you don’t know a word.”

Functional Communication

Sign4Me –A Signed English Translator

  • Purpose:  This app teaches Signed English using 3-D animations. There are more than 11,000 words, and the animation tool finger spells words not in the database. Users can type in words, phrases and complete sentences and see the animated figure sign them out.
  • Languages: Signed English, ASL, and English. 
  • Price: $9.99
  • Platforms:  iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad. Requires iOS 3.0 or later.
  • Reviews:  On the iTunes store, the average review is 4/5 stars. Sign4Me has gotten positive feedback. The animations are of good quality – one reviewer called it “a graphic masterpiece.” Central Coast Childrens Foundation shares, “While this is not a tool for teaching and learning formal ASL (there is no instruction on word order or signing space, for example), it is seen as a good tool for those wanting to strike up a conversation with a deaf or hard-of-hearing person.”

TalkForMe 

  • Purpose:  This app is intended for both world travelers and people with communication difficulties. It lets the user add an unlimited number of pictures and phrases, sort them into relevant groups, and then play the phrase aloud. The phrases can be translated into more than 30 languages.
  • Languages: more than 30 languages 
  • Price: $5.99
  • Platforms: Android, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad. Requires iOS 3.2 or later.
  • Reviews: On the iTunes app store there were not enough reviews to create an average rating score.  An app store reviewer says that TalkForMe “helps those with speech difficulties.” Its creator, whose son has dystonia, says the app has made a difference for his son and should have “potential” for others with communication needs.

Speak it!

  • Purpose: An app that converts written words into spoken words. It highlights words as they are read, and spoken words can be saved in an audio file. Other features it has are the ability to pause and change the playback rate.
  • Languages: French, Italian, German, Spanish
  • Price: $1.99
  • Platforms: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
  • Reviews: On the iTunes store, the average review is 3/5 stars. Reviewers enjoyed the high quality voices, and the fact that there are several accents available for each language. Some reviewers found it difficult to save audio files. It is similar to SpeakPad, but has more voice options for each language and costs more.

YES/NO Bilingual 

  •  Purpose: This app functions as a communication board for yes/no questions.  The board is in English and Spanish, and offers a choice of male and female voices in both languages. It has been helpful in the medical community, where many yes/no questions are asked.
  •  Languages: English and Spanish. 
  •  Price: $1.99
  •  Platforms: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad. Requires iOS 3.1.3 or later.
  • Reviews: On the iTunes store, the average rating is 2.5/5 stars. This app has been well-received, with positive feedback from bilingual SLPs. One  app store reviewer said that “people with communication disorders need tools like this to express their opinion.”

Autoverbal Espanol and Autoverbal Francais

  • Purpose: These are text to speech apps that also contain options for picture-based AAC. The picture based categories can be swiped left to right to scroll to new pictures and up and down to scroll to new categories.  Text can be customized and phrases or words can be saved.
  • Languages: French, Spanish (English version also available: Autoverbal)
  • Price: $19.99
  • Platforms: iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, iOS 3.0 or higher
  • Reviews: On the iTunes app store there were not enough reviews to create an average rating score. One app store review said the text to speech is functional, but the picture based AAC is limited.  Another reviewer stated that the voice output doesn’t sound natural and that customization is difficult.  A third stated that it was difficult to figure out.

TapSpeak Choice

  • Purpose: An app uses simple two-button communication boards to complete speech generation page sets. There are a range of options to access the app such as: swipes, pinches, weak motions, even some palm resting. Pages can have one to 56 buttons, and can be linked for navigation purposes. Users can set up a home page and easily set up links to other pages. Buttons can have symbols, images from your photo library, and text as the button image. Users can set the button’s background color by part of speech using the coloring system provided or by creating their own coloring system. 
  • Languages: Arabic, Flemish (Belgian Dutch), Brazilian, British English, French Canadian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish, US English, US Spanish.
  • Price: $149.00
  • Platforms: iPad
  • Reviews: On the iTunes app store there were not enough reviews to create an average rating score. Bridging Apps Reviews this app and states, “Programming is fairly user-friendly once you have familiarized yourself with it and is extremely customizable to the user’s needs. Although higher in cost in comparison with other communication applications, TapSpeak Choice can be an excellent app choice for all level communicators, especially those requiring switch access and/or auditory or visual scanning.”

Social Communication

iTalker

  • Purpose: Records and plays back audio files. User can create playlists and step through them one by one by touching the large red button. Photos or pictures can be superimposed on top of the button. (Big red button and functionality similar to the “Big Mac” voice output switch). 
  • Languages: English, French, German
  • Purpose: $4.99
  • Platforms: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, iOS 4.3 or higher
  • Reviews: On the iTunes app store there were not enough reviews to create an average rating score.  The inov8ed blog said that this app is easy to use, but that text to talk option could be expanded (inov8ed). 

My Talk 

  • Purpose: A communication app that lets users customize their own messages with pictures, images and audio files (even voice recordings). Users can upload images straight from the Internet to personalize the phrases that they want to speak (while freeing up memory on the device). Users are given a 30-day free trial period before purchasing it.
  •  Languages: Arabic, Catalan, Chinese Mandarin, Czech, Danish, Dutch (B), Dutch (NL), English (Australia), English (India), English (UK), English, Finnish, French, French (Canadian), German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Portuguese (Brazil), Russian: Alyona (F), Spanish, Spanish (North America), Swedish, Swedish (Finland), Turkish. 
  • Price:  $99.99, but with a free 30-day trial period. Additional languages for $39.99
  • Platforms: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad. Requires iOS 3.2 or later.
  • Reviews: On the iTunes store, the average rating is 4/5 stars.  Parents of children that have autism found this app very useful and easy to use. A grandmother said it has made her autistic granddaughter “an able communicator,” letting her do things from sharing stories about her day to storing notes from class. Parents love how it lets their children personalize phrases and “seems to anticipate every scenario.” The simple interface and customizable features earn My Talk rave reviews (spectronics). 

Pictello

  • Purpose: This app contains photo albums or books with voice output. Each page can contain a photo, up to 5 lines of text and either a recorded voice or text to speech.  The stories can be shared using iTunes file sharing or with other Pictello users.  Useful for social communication with a set script.
  • Languages: English, Dutch, French, German, Spanish, Turkish
  • Price: $14.99
  • Platforms: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, iOS 5.1 or higher
  • Reviews: On the iTunes app store there were not enough reviews to create an average rating score. Reviewers found it well designed and easy to use.  A limitation is having to use photos from the device, so there has to be a lot of pre-planning.  Line drawings or photos from the internet can not be used, only photos saved in the camera section of the device. 

 

Contributors: Aaron Waxenfelter, Casey Watson, and Jane Harry (Spring 2013)

References and Resources