Top Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) Apps for iPad

The iPad gives voice to persons with speech disabilities

The iPad continues to make communication more accessible and cost-effective for persons with developmental and speech disabilities.

Mobile apps provide many of the vocabulary-building and text-to-speech features of alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) devices for far less money than products such as the Dynavox Maestro. The following apps help persons who struggle to speak due to conditions such as autism, brain injuries, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, and stroke. They provide ways to choose words, symbols, and images to express moods, needs, and thoughts.

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I Can Speak, Lazy River Software ($29.99)

I Can Speak is an easy-to-use AAC app designed to meet most of the communications needs of those unable to speak.

I Can Speak is an easy-to-use AAC app designed to meet most of the communications needs of those unable to speak. The app includes 12 backgrounds, four button styles, and two word-selection areas called Static and Dynamic. The Static Area, which is always available, contains more than 240 words and phrases to build sentences. The Dynamic Area has two category lists: Words and Activities. The Words list has more than 500 entries and can hold around 5,000. Activities list words refer to specific actions, e.g. attending art class or using the bathroom. Combining Static and Dynamic words can generate thousands of simple sentences.

Version: 1.1; Size: 10.0 MB; Requirements: iOS 3.2 or later

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iCommunicate, Grembe, Inc. ($49.99)

The iCommunicate app provides customizable boards and 20 synthetic voices.

iCommunicate lets you design and customize such things as visual schedules, storyboards, communication boards, choice boards, flashcards, and speech cards. The app provides text-to-speech with 20 different voice options and enables users to include their own pictures and record their own audio for boards. Includes 10,000+ N2Y SymbolStix images and supports printing via AirPrint or email boards.

Version: 2.02; Size: 208 MB; Requirements: iOS 3.1.3 or later

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iPrompts, Handhold Adaptive, LLC ($49.99)

iPrompts, Handhold Adaptive, LLC

iPrompts provides visual prompting tools (no audio prompts or voice output) to help users transition from one activity to the next, understand upcoming events, make choices, and focus on the task at hand. Teachers and caregivers can create picture schedules from hundreds of stock photos and illustrations and their own uploaded images. The app also has a countdown timer to show users when the current activity will end. Other features include choice prompts and an image library.

Version: 2.06; Size: 5.2 MB; Requirements: iOS 3.1.3 or later

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Locabulary Lite, Red Mountain Labs, Inc. (Free)

Locabulary Lite, Red Mountain Labs, Inc.

Locabulary provides vocabulary to communicate quick phrases, moods, and requests for assistance. The app can be used for everyday communications, teaching, and fun. Locabulary Lite has expanded Category and Phrase Settings. Users can create and link Location Presets for points of interest to a category or bank of phrases. The app speaks text-message abbreviations; for example, when a user types "cul," "see you later" is spoken. You can also back up and save all phrase categories to a remote Locabulary server.

Version: 2.0; Size: 32.5 MB; Requirements: iOS 4.0 or later

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MyTalkTools Mobile, 2nd Half Enterprises, LLC ($39.99)

MyTalkTools Mobile, 2nd Half Enterprises, LLC

MyTalkTools Mobile enables users to express their needs to those around them using a variety of images, symbols, video and text-to-speech audio files. The app features full AAC capability, including a mobile authoring mode to create messages on the fly. It also makes local content accessible without an internet connection. All user-generated content is backed up in MyTalk Workspace.

Version: 3.1; Size: 16.0 MB; Requirements: iOS 3.2 or later

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Predictable, Tbox apps ($159.99)

Predictable, Tbox apps

Predictable is an AAC app providing text-to-speech and customizable functions with social media integration. The app uses a word prediction engine featuring integrated intelligent self-learning of new words and contexts and easy-to-use category folders. Users can compose and send email and SMS messages, tweets, and Facebook updates. It supports switch access, including use of the entire screen as a switch. The app is also accessible via Bluetooth.

Version: 2.0; Size: 606 MB; Requirements: iOS 3.0 or later

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Proloquo2go, AssistiveWare ($189.99)

Proloquo2Go features text-to-speech, high-rez symbols, a 7,000-word vocabulary, and advanced word prediction. iTunes

Proloquo2Go features text-to-speech, high-resolution symbols, a 7,000-word vocabulary, and advanced word prediction. The app can be used without a Wi-Fi or 3G connection. Version 1.7.2 contains 30 improvements and fixes, and includes an Adjust # of Columns feature that had been removed from version 1.7; it displays more columns in landscape view. Also back is the Try to Fill Screen feature, which enlarges some category buttons. The message window and navigation bar are now adjustable. All Settings are now consolidated into a password-protected Option View.

Version: 1.7.2; Size: 341 MB; Requirements: iOS 4.2 or later

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TouchChat HD, Silver Kite ($149.99)

TouchChat HD, Silver Kite

TouchChat HD speaks words, phrases, and messages using any of seven synthetic voices. Buttons enable users to navigate among page sets, speak messages, change the volume, or clear the display. Tilt the device to display a message full-screen with large letters. Users can share TouchChat text via Facebook, Twitter, text messaging, and email, and can copy text to other applications. Text from other applications can be imported and read aloud as well. TouchChat HD is bundled withWordPower24.

Version: 1.1.2; Size: 603 MB; Requirements: iPad with iOS 3.2 or later