Today’s post is all about AAC apps and how parents/families can easily obtain and set up their child’s communication device. While I highly encourage families to meet with a speech-language therapist that specializes in augmentative & alternative communication or AAC, such specialists can be hard to find. Sometimes even if your local hospital or clinic has a specialist, their schedule is full. In the meantime, your child deserves to have access to a means to communicate if or when verbal speech is too challenging. So what are some great AAC apps that won’t break the bank? What AAC apps can a parent or caretaker purchase for themselves if they don’t want the long wait for insurance approval and/or have no hope of getting a device paid for via medical coverage?
CoughDrop gives you a 2 month free trial and after that the app costs $200 for life. This is an amazingly affordable option for high-tech and high-quality AAC. CoughDrop can basically be used on anything: iPad, Android (so basically all the other kinds of tablets assuming they are high-quality enough for AAC), iPhone, android phones, Windows computers, and Google Chrome Web browsers. This is another reason CoughDrop is amazing for those of us who do not own all things Apple; there are many other existing devices you can put this application on.
CoughDrop isn’t just affordable; it is a robust communication system with a lot of different core board options and extensive vocabulary you child can use for all manner of situations. It’s also a collaborative platform that easily allows a child’s parent and speech therapist to add or modify vocabulary and words (this is usually easiest to do on your computer). I could go on, but I highly suggest you trial it yourself as well as do a free video consult to learn all about it (this is offered after you sign-up for the trial). I have personally used it and found it to be easy to learn & highly-functional.
You can get a free version of this app without the voice just to see if you would like it first. The paid version is a mere $50 dollars for iPad! TDSnap seems to be organized by parts of speech (verbs, pronouns, questions words, etc) as well as common subject or situations to talk about (mealtime, dating, emotions, etc.)
This app has a 2 week free trial and then the cost seems to vary depending on whether it’s on an IPAD or Android Tablet. For an iPad you can currently opt for a monthly subscription of $10, a yearly subscription of $100, or a lifetime subscription of $200. For Android devices, Avaz seems to be $179 yearly and I can’t currently find information on if there is a lifetime or monthly option (will be updating when I get a response back from the developer!). The monthly subscription for iPad and possibly Android tablets is a really great deal for those who are afraid of the initial high cost and/or who might find it easier to pay month-to-month. Both the yearly and lifetime subscriptions are significantly less expensive than most other high-quality AAC apps. Although I personally have not used Avaz as much as Coughdrop, it looks to be a robust, easy-to-learn simple with lots of appropriate vocabulary. It has wonderful, in-depth reviews from *actual* AAC users as well.
ok, this isn’t an app but it *is* a resource to trial AAC in Pennsylvania. Per the website, “TechOWL is the Assistive Technology Act program that serves the entire Commonwealth of Pennsylvania” and it is located at Temple University in Philadelphia. It offers many free services including 9-week loans of AAC devices that your child can trial, used communication devices, a micro-grant for buying a device, and resources/information on how to obtain other funding or an interest-free loan to purchase your AAC.
I sincerely hope that this post helps families seeking out easy, affordable, and high-quality AAC to give their child a voice. Although many parents may wish for their child to use verbal speech, it’s important to accept and support all forms of communication so that children of all abilities and backgrounds can express themselves.