This year has offered a lot of new opportunities for me. One of those opportunities was the chance to work closely with my district’s AAC/AT ( Assistive Technology ) department. I am lucky enough to get to work with some amazing students who, for varying reasons, have limited expressive abilities and require some form of assistance to communicate. After sorting through and doing trial runs of low-tech and high-tech options I feel more informed and educated about what a good AAC/AT device must have. So with that, I want to share with you Smarty Ears updated version of their AAC app, Expressive 3.0 version.
The app is very straight forward and doesn’t really have much of a learning curve. I did watch the tutorial video prior to using the app and all the features were clearly explained. I was navigating through the app with ease as soon as the video finished. You do not have to watch the video to figure out how to use the app, though it is very helpful and I highly recommend it. But, if you can tap your finger, you can use Expressive.
The app’s home screen has a combination of folders that contain high frequency words, sorted by category, and frequently used words that are great to have quick access to such as ‘yes’, ‘no’, ‘ I want’, etc. Folders and pictures can be color coded for easy reference.
To open a folder simply tap it and it will open to pictures related to that category. When you tap a picture it will place it in the bar at the top of the screen and say the image’s title. A cool feature is that you can change the voice that the app uses. There are two male and two female voices.
It is so easy to add new images and folders. You simply tap the add button and decide if you want to add an image or folder. You can choose a background/outline color to help organize your new additions. You enter in the title you want for your new addition and then you can select an image. You can use an image of your own or choose one from the Smarty Symbols Library which has 10,000 symbols to choose from! With 10,000 pictures you are sure to find what you need.
I really liked that I could have folders within folders. This means that you can create a specific folder for a student, and within that, create folders for specific words related to that student’s classes or other areas of their day.
Concerned that all your newly added images will get erased? Don’t be. There is a lock feature that you can turn on that will prevent any images from getting deleted by accident. This feature definitely calmed my nerves, because I didn’t have to worry about losing all the images I had set up. If you want to remove an image or folder on purpose, just tap the delete button at the bottom of the screen and then the image you want deleted. It is the same procedure you would use to delete an app on your iPhone. You can also edit images from there as well.
Overall this is a wonderful app for those who need assistance with communication. There is really no learning curve, just tap and go. The app offers a lot of options for customization. You can color code images and folders as well as select from 4 different voice types. I really like the ability to upload your own images and the Smarty Symbols Library with 10,000 symbols has an image for just about everything!
To add app to your speech tool box visit iTunes, it is currently $25.99.
Smarty Ears graciously provided me with this app in order to complete this review. No other form of compensation was provided.