Great updates for Proloquo2Go and Abilipad

Over the summer I was thrilled to read about two updates for apps which I now use regularly in my therapy sessions. Both updates are free- which is typically true for iDevice apps unless the producer of the app decides to create a totally new app.
Version 2.0 of  Proloquo2go (P2G) is a fully functional AAC app which now requires much less time to customize. It is now  easier to start using with a variety of initial vocabulary sets from which to select. There is  a completely redesigned editing interface with new features such as the ability to hide and dim buttons, create different pages with different size grids, and custom order the buttons. There is now also multi-user support which is great for therapists who would like to work with a number of different users on their iPad. In addition, there are several new voices- including some for children. A new set of helpful tutorials can be found here.
Prior to this update I found myself spending a great deal of time customizing this app in order for it to be appropriate for many of my clients. It was also frustrating when I wanted to use the app with more than one client to try to determine if it was a good match for their communication needs.  Now- with a few simple configurations, it requires much less setup time.
There are many AAC apps available, but in order to best facilitate communication it is important that the app is appropriately matched to the user’s communication skill level and promotes language development. There is much more to communication than expressing wants or labeling objects. Many apps enable users to upload pictures and create all sorts of content- but it takes time and skill. Version 2.0 of P2G now comes with two types of customizable language sets to choose from which are research based- Core Words and Basic CommunicationCore Words comes in 6 configurations (9 to 64 buttons per page) and is organized by allowing efficient access to the most frequently used words along with fringe vocabulary for novel expressive language. Basic Communication is designed for individuals who are communicating at the one and two word level and promotes the natural progression of language development. There are 4 configurations from which to select which include from 9 to 36 buttons per page.
Another new feature that I have found to be very helpful is the ability to customize the amount of space between the buttons. In the past, some of my clients with visual perceptual challenges or dexterity issues had difficulty selecting buttons of their choice. I would have to significantly reduce the number of buttons on a page to enable them to select the desired word or image. Now I have found that if I increase the amount of space between the buttons I don’t have to reduce the number of items presented per page which allows them to see more images per page.
Abilipad is a wonderful app for writing support. I was very excited about it when it was first released, but I hesitated to promote it because it was not Bluetooth compatible so users could not use any keyboard except for the one within the iPad. With this update, it is now possible to use an external keyboard- which I find to be much easier for typing.
This app offers:
  • customizable keyboards- text, voice and photos can be added to keys
  • text to speech- words and sentences can be read aloud by a natural sounding voice. This feature helps people maintain attention to task, and become aware of errors when something doesn’t sound correct and may even help with word selection.
  • voice recording- many individuals are able to verbalize what they struggle to capture in written form
  • picture support- photos and images can be used to help with expression or to provide prompts
  • word prediction- this feature is very helpful for spelling accuracy as well as word retrieval

I have been using the Abilpad app successfully to help a number of students as well as adults who prefer the smaller and more portable iPad for their writing – yet need help with spelling, thinking of words and typing. My favorite keyboard is produced by Logitech. I actually purchased mine a while ago at Costco. I also use it as my cover.

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