AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) apps are becoming a major force in the field of adaptive communication products. These apps provide language output using a synthesized voice for children of all ages who are unable to formulate and/or produce it on their own. This market has changed dramatically in the last few years, largely as a result of smartphones and tablets. Avaz is an AAC app that can provide a communication system for a non-verbal child or a child with limited speech. It earns a Top Pick because of its comprehensive content as well as some unique features that put it ahead of other AAC apps.Fun Educational Apps TOP PICKS
Avaz was developed by Invention Labs and is available for both IOS and Android tablet devices. For those of you unfamiliar with AAC apps, it may be helpful to think of them as virtual file cabinets that are filled with messages created using familiar Boardmaker symbols. Because the messages need to be accessed quickly, they are organized into folders. Words and phrases that are useful throughout the day are placed up front in the Quick File. Examples include: “I need to go to the bathroom.” “I’m hungry.” “Please help.” Next comes Core Words. This is a set of high frequency words arranged by parts of speech- pronouns (on the light yellow tiles), verbs (green tiles), adjectives (blue tiles), and adverbs (light brown tiles). This folder is important for language and concept development.
After Core Words, there is a file called Getting Started. This includes words and phrases that will get needs met- the “I want…” statements. (“I want pizza for lunch.” “I want the red crayon.”) The last two folders contain words and phrases that are either specific to an academic subject or useful only sometimes. These are used for more advanced or situation-specific communication. As you can see, Avaz provides access that starts at the very beginning level (two or three single words) and expands out to complex thoughts and sentences.
Once a child is proficient with the picture system and is able to read, Avaz transforms (by pressing the typewriter icon) into a text-to-speech communication system. That means messages are typed into a box, and the message is read using a synthesized voice. This allows for unlimited expressive ability.
What Fun Educational Apps Liked- from a Parent’s Perspective:
This app is not intended for parents to navigate on their own. Customizing it for an individual child is the responsibility of a speech/language pathologist or other AAC professional. You, however, are the consultant who can recommend words and phrases that you know are important for your child’s communication. This could be as simple as suggesting a button for the family pet, a favorite video game, or a best friend; you could also alert the team to specific situations that could be improved with better communication. Your other major responsibility is to get familiar enough with the app that you can use it confidently at home. Don’t be shy about asking for a demonstration, because the more success your child has using Avaz, the more often he or she will return to it.
These are some features that are important for parents:
- easy to use
- wide vocabulary base for advanced learners
- Quick File folder for commonly used words and phrases
- one-touch notification for “Help me, please” (functions the same as raising your hand)
- conversation starters for interpersonal communication
- customizable buttons for family, friends, pets, etc.
- adapted access to social media, when that becomes appropriate
What Fun Educational Apps Liked- from a Therapist’s Perspective:
The bottom line when using any intervention in a therapeutic environment is this: Does the data demonstrate growth in the targeted areas? I spent a good deal of time going through the different folders in Avaz, and I am convinced that it will increase communication skills in special needs children who are taught to use it.
This is a list of its features that together create an app worthy of your consideration:
- service and support available to answer your questions (email@example.com)
- customizable layouts (size, number per page, placement, color, background, voice
- immense 15,000 symbol library (included in the app, no additional charge)
- back-up available through DropBox (a free app)
- performance tracking feature to document daily progress
- instant search
- word prediction
- picture-only, picture + text, and text-only options
- compatible with PECS
- named an Editor’s Choice by Apps For Children With Special Needs (www.a4cwsn.com )
Professionals in the AAC community are split regarding the relative merits of dedicated communication devices (like Dynavox) versus apps loaded onto multi-use tablets. For those, like me, who prefer the latter, the question remains: Which app is the best? Obviously, we all know that depends on what features you require. For most users, however, Avaz is an excellent choice, if you are looking for a reasonably priced AAC app that has all the features mentioned above. According to the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC), “Communication is a basic human right and it is essential to every single person’s quality of life.” After evaluating Avaz, we were impressed by its features as well as its design, so we named it a Top Pick in the category of apps for children with special needs.
Avaz - AAC App for Autism is avaibale for download via the iTunes App Store and Android - Google Play
At the time of this review, Avaz provides a safe, secure environment, with no ads and no in-app purchases. It has access to social media as part of its design, so parents need to discuss their expectations with their child before allowing them access to social media using Avaz. Parents can be confident that their children’s privacy is protected when using this app.
Review by Julie Peterson, a speech/language pathologist (SLP) currently working in a school setting, serving children with special needs, ages 6-14.
Did you check our 5 a day - Top Apps Gone FREE!
Have Fun With Apps! …
Don't miss our next review our FREE app alert - 5 a day ….
Get it by e-mail - Subscribe NOW!