Saturday, March 1, 2014

Speak For Yourself

Last year at the Autism Society conference '13, I had a chance to meet up with Heidi and Renee, two of the creators behind the Speak for Yourself AAC app. They had some very interesting badges for us to put on our name-tags, as well as a chance to test out their app.  Both of them were thrilled to hear feedback and suggestions by autistic adults, and a couple of us were willing to discuss various topics about our experiences and communication.

First, I have to say, that I am not a regular AAC user; when I do lose verbal skills, I tend to grab pen and paper, if not a keyboard, and write.  Which is why I have the free version of Verbally, just in case, on my iPad.  The paid in-app upgrade, $99.99,  lets you save words and phrases, as well as upgraded voices.  I like the app because I can type out what I want to say.

Speak for Yourself, on the other hand, is a more traditional AAC; that is, it is a picture and word (PECs?) based AAC.  The full version is $199.99 , but there is a free version for testing out, which is what I have.   I can't speak for the usability of the app, being that I'm not a regular user.  However, reviews have pointed out that Speak for Yourself has features such as no repeating words, words that stay at the same place every time, and the ability to customize it.

The full app comes with a qwerty keyboard and the ability to customize words.  Any type of word, and the app voice is capable of speaking adult words.  At the conference, this was something that other adults and I discussed with the developers, the ability for self-expression and for the app to grow with a person.  The developers heartily agreed with us, and even showed us how to program the app to include swear words.

While I doubt that those words are included in the immediate vocabulary, it is good to know that they are not censored from the app, so adults can fully customize the words (and I believe the pictures) to suit their needs.

For these reasons, I highly recommend the Speak for Yourself and Verbally apps for adult autistics.