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REVIEW: SpeakColors


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SpeakColors logo

SpeakColors is much more than an app to learn colors, and provides exercises to learn diverse vocabulary, to work receptive and expressive language, and to practice various basic structures of sentences.

Combine colors

The main menu of SpeakColors allows you to get help and personalize the app. The main button leads you directly to the work screen.

SpeakColors 01

There are various elements in the work screen. In the center and very big, a color square and a photograph of a real object of that color. Touching each of these two elements we can hear an audio clip with the pronunciation of the corresponding word. And in the center, below, we have a button of a microphone which allows us to record, and then play, an audio clip at will.

SpeakColors 03

The idea is simple. The student sees combinations of colors and objects and can practice the receptive and expressive language.  The arrow buttons below allow you to see other objects of the same color, and the color buttons above allow you to change the color. SpeakColors allows working with seven basic colors: white, black, blue, green, red, yellow and orange.

But there’s even more. Sentences are not limited to a combination of color+object. We can choose between 13 phrase templates (19 in the Spanish version in order to effectively cover masculine and feminine names).  If the template has one or two additional words, these appear in boxes and they will in turn have associated audio clips. (Note: the images below belong to the English and the Spanish versions).
SpeakColors 11
SpeakColors 06
SpeakColors 12

This way, the student can practice simple model phrases, such as “I play with a …” or ” In my house, I have a….”.

A few buttons near a corner permit us to move to an object rapidly -by selecting it from the list- or to block some of the sentence, so you cannot change the structure of the sentence, the color and/or the object. From the main menu you can also choose if you want the the text of each color and object to appear below the corresponding images.

Customization

SpeakColors comes preloaded with a basic vocabulary and 200 photographs that allow over 1,000 phrases. But SpeakColors allows you to add new words to the vocabulary (including it’s text, image and audio clip), deciding in which phrase templates they can be used. You can do this in a configuration screen that is very similar to the work screen and easy to use. The same functionality allows you to change the preloaded audio clips and the photographs. When taking photographs, you can scale them -something typical- but also rotate them -less typical but useful also.

SpeakColors 09

Assessment

SpeakColors is a relatively simple app that you can control in a matter of minutes. Thanks to its ability to be customized, it can serve as a basis for working with a very large vocabulary set.

It is assumed that the student already knows at least the color-object associations (though perhaps hasn’t mastered them). SpeakColors lets them start to evolve into more complex phrases with verbs, but always incorporating the variable of color.

 

I would love the opportunity to work with only those colors first and then later without them, or to have a registry, but as always the list of possible extensions is very long. In the Spanish version (SpeakColors Spanish Pro), the audio clips have an American accent.

Anyway, SpeakColors can be a very useful app to practice expressive and receptive language, color associations and structures of simple phrases. And the free Lite version allows you to test it.

-Francesc Sistach


SpeakColors
Developer: RWH Technology
Languages: English, Spanish.
Features: To learn color-object associations and simple sentences with colors.
Versions: iPad.
Price: SpeakColorsHD: $3.99 / €3.59; SpeakColors Español Pro: $6.99 / €5.99; ‘Lite’ and free version

 

Review: Special Words


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Today I will talk you about an app for iPad/iPhone that I find very useful for students with ASD: Special Words, developed by Special iApps. In our educational center, we are using it with some very young children and we are getting good results, as it is attractive to them, simple to use, and allows us to address different aspects such as visual matching, global reading, visual discrimination, and so on.

I will first explain what it is and then we’ll see the customization it offers.

Four activities
Special Words presents a screen with four fixed elements and one central element that can be shifted so the student can associate it with its corresponding element. We can choose from several operating modes, as we shall see in the following screenshots.

First, we can match image to image. In this case, an image appears in the center of the screen, the app says aloud the word associated, and when you match the two identical images, Special Words says the word again, showing also the written word that represents it.

Secondly, we can match word to word. Functioning here is very similar to the previous case: when the central word appears, Special Words says it aloud, and repeat it when you match the words, showing in this case the image it represents.

The third of the activities that we can perform is a classic exercise of global reading. The student has to move the word towards the corresponding image, with the extra help of hearing the word that appear in the center of the screen.

Finally, we have the possibility to practice reverse global reading by offering four words as matching options and an image to match.

Customization
Special Words offers a wide range of initial vocabulary that you can modify to suit the characteristics and needs of your students. From the word list, by selecting any word, you can modify it, changing the writing and/or and recording a new audio clip if necessary.

Of course, Special Words also allows you to add new vocabulary, something that you can do by touching the + symbol at the top of the screen. To add an image, you have to previously save images on the device or, if you have an iPhone or an iPad 2, take a picture directly.

With Special Words you can also define different users, select the most appropriate word lists for each of them, and put the words in the order that most interests you, thus making the most appropriate combinations depending on the characteristics and needs of each individual student. To do this, you only have to press the icon with an arrow and a rectangle, which will lead you to a menu screen of actions to manage saved profiles, adding and changing everything you need.

Special Words runs on both the iPhone and the iPad. It’s certainly an interesting application, useful and engaging, that can be invaluable for our students.

-Lupe Montero

Special
Links: iTunes
Company: Special iApps
Languages: English (U.S., UK and Australia), Spanish, Catalan, Dutch, Flemish, French, German, Italian, Swedish, Turkish.
Functions: Exercises of visual matching, global reading and visual discrimination.
Versions: Universal version for iPad, iPod touch and iPhone
Price: $13.99 / €10.99

 


Review: Word SLapPs Vocabulary


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Word SLapPs aims to promote the learning of basic vocabulary to children with difficulties in language acquisition. The application allows the child to learn, at their own pace, specific vocabulary that they can load. Images and sounds of their own can be added to customize the application.

Word SLapPs is designed by language pathologists (SLP) on the model of discrete trial, and is similar in design to Color SlapPs, already analyzed in iAutism.

Settings
Upon entering Word SLapPs, we are presented the main menu where we find the various links that allow you to configure the app and start directly the activity.

The orange button with two wheels allows you to set up six options: “Number of turns”, to choose between 5, 10 or 15 consecutive exercises that the child should respond; “Practice Mode”, that allows you to choose automatic or manually screen switching once completed an exercise; “Question Prompt”, to choose the presentation format for the demand –written or verbal–; “Incorrect Response”, which allows you to choose if you should see a visual aid or just repeat the demand after a wrong answer; “Correct Response”, to set the correct response result –sound and visual effects–; and, finally, “Choose theme/visuals”, which gives access to the purchase of two additional image packs (vehicles and farm).

Also in this screen, the icon labeled “Edit/Add Content” allows you to add images (from your gallery), assigning a name and recording an audio clip for each of them and organizing them into categories that also can be defined.

Back to the main menu, we also find a green button with a ‘%’ symbol that shows the scores for the different times you have used Word SLapPs. If you select a session, it shows the score as well as the errors that were taken.

Also in the main menu, the “Categories” icon gives access to all those categories that have been set previously. Once selected the one with which you want to work, subcategories associated with that appear. Once in the subcategories screen, you can select images to work by selecting them all at once or one at a time.

Also in the main screen you can choose between six levels of difficulty. So at level one, only an image will appear in each exercise on which to respond, at level two there will be two images, and so on until the maximum difficulty level six with six images per screen.

Exercises
Once you have made all settings, you can start the exercises by touching the yellow flower labeled with “PLAY”. A working screen will appear, which is what the child will use, doing series of 5, 10 or 15 exercises in which they must touch one of the objects on the screen. In this screen there will always be an option, in the top left, to return to the main menu.

In each exercise, you will see categories of selected objects and the number of units according to the chosen level. You will hear a voice, or a text will be written at the top of the screen as configured in advance, indicating the image that must be found between the ones showed in the screen.

Once a block of exercises is received, a visual and auditory reward reinforces the work done.

And, once finished the series, an orange box appears showing the total score and the errors made. This final screen also allows you to start another round of exercises.

If the child does not respond, the same demand is repeated. And in situations where the child responds incorrectly, the demand will also be repeated along with a visual aid is the specific setting was activated.

Assessment
Word SLapPs is the ideal way to introduce the first vocabulary for anyone, whether he/she is a person with learning disabilities or not. However, for its design and usability it can really be a useful tool for children with difficulties.

One of the strengths of Word SLapPs is that the presentation of demands is very clear and neutral. This facilitates learning for children with difficulties.

A second noteworthy aspect of Word SLAPPs is the option of adding your own pictures, so you work on those categories that are most useful for the child. This also allows adapting the application to any language.

Regarding the consequence that Word SLAPPs shows when an answer is given, we see as positive that the app considers a non-response as an incorrect answer. Tha adult can also define the type of consequence that will be shown after a wrong answer, including giving a visual aid that can help the child to discriminate more easily when they are wrong. But perhaps it should incorporate a visual aid on the right image and not just the appearance of a cross over the incorrectly chosen image. For example, it would be great that the right picture stood out from the rest. Regarding the consequences given to a correct answer, the fact of incorporating not only a visual but also an audio effect makes the child more motivated to continue.

Finally, we would also like to highlight the numerous settings that can be adjusted to modify the exercises. For sure, these options will help a lot to adapt the exercises to the learning difficulties of each child.

-Aida Farrés, Noemi Quibus, Neus Fibla and Sílvia Sáez are coordinators at Fundación Planeta Imaginario

Word
Links: iTunes
Company: Zorten Software
Languages: English
Functions: Receptive language learning.
Versions: Only for iPad
Price: $4.99 / €3.99; image packs are $0.99 / €0.79

 


Review: Making Sequences


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Making Sequences is an application designed especially to teach the sequence of a story or to help children learn the steps to follow to complete a task. It achieves this by using a graphic story divided into parts.

The application already contains some image sequences to work with, but you can create your own sequences and add voice and text messages to them. As a result, “Making Sequences” can be used to teach daily living skills in a personalized and enjoyable way, as you can include user images in the stories. In addition, you can use the application to work on short social stories.

Functional Description
Upon entering the application, you find the home page represented by a cork where the different options are attached.

First, there are four options that have informative and communicative roles. They are:

  • The information icon, which redirects you to the section related to Making Sequences at Zorten Software’s website.
  • Under the cork you can see the inscription “Questions, comments or need help?” that leads to the contact page of the same website.
  • “More apps by Zorten Software”, that shows you other applications of Zorten Software.
  • And, represented by a pen, the option of sending a recommendation of the application by mail.

The other options, larger and more visible, are those related to the application’s main functionality. You can choose to enter each in the order you want.

We chose to click on the “Choose Sequences” option first. It allows you to choose the subjects (ie, sequences) to use after for the exercises. You can use them all or choose only those that most interest you. There are a total of fifteen sequences, having each one between three and five elements.

Once selected the sequences, we went to “Place in Order”. With this option, you practice the exercise itself. It immediately presents you a sequence to sort. You can set the text and audio of each of the sequences from which to work, and you can choose whether you want that text to appear and the audio to be played or not.

Also, in the same settings menu, located at the top right of the screen, you can choose that images appear with a number on the top to indicate its position within the sequence. This option can be useful in case we need help to solve some of the sequences.

If you have selected all the topics that contains the application, they are presented to us at random, which means that the order will not respond to the same ranking criteria or number of elements.

Given these observations, you can begin to put the sequence following the logical order of occurrence. Dragging each image to its correct position does this. For now, no signal will tell you if the sequence is ordered or not.

Once we have finished the exercise, you know the result by clicking the “Done” button. A verbal message will indicate if the sequence is correct or not. In the event that you have not done well, you can repeat the exercise inmediately, either by correcting the previously proposed order or by clicking “Shuffle” and starting to work on the sequence again. If your practice has been good, you will get a verbal compliment.

One thing to comment on these exercises is that, whether your answer is right or wrong, you have the option to use the other icons on the screen at any time. Thus if you want, you can click on the following options:

  • “Shuffle” to shuffle the images again and so they are presented in a different order.
  • “New sequence”, which serves to move into a new sequence, so you can repeat the above process with a different exercise.
  • “Go back”. With this icon, go to the previous exercise.
  • “Listen to Story”, with which the elements of the sequence will be extended one to one in the order we have proposed and a voice will tell what happens in each image.

The last option in the main menu Making Sequences is “Edit / Add” with which we can create new sequences. For this we must ascribe a name and create it from the images that we choose and which may be accompanied by text and audio.

Assessment
Making Sequences is an app with a very clear purpose: to be a support tool for all those children needing help in understanding the logical and typical order in which events occur. Like its purpose, its content and structure are also very clear. The presentation of the exercises is simple and the images are not confusing, which is basic to understanding each sequence and get correct answers.

Another very positive aspect of the application is the possibility of creating your own sequences. Not just because you can create a wider range of units to work, but also because it will allow you to generalize them using different backgrounds, images, characters, etc. both familiar and unknown to the user. In addition, this option could be used to create new sequences based on the existing ones, modifying their level of difficulty depending on the child’s ability.

We assess positively the fact that there are no exercises help camouflaged, ie no visual or sound effect that gives you clues about whether you have placed one of the images right or wrong. You will know if they are right or wrong only when you click on the “Done” button. If you have done the job properly, the app will congratulate you. Otherwise, you will be invited to repeat the exercise, though without providing any help, so you’ll have to try to do the exercise again without knowing where have you failed and what to do to correct it. The latter would be a nice improvement, because for optimal learning we must avoid repeating errors that may confuse and frustrate the child.

However, we believe this application is useful and beneficial for children to learn, practice and get experience in identifying the main parts of a situation, grasp the logic of events and know how to sort them.

-Fundación Planeta Imaginario

Making
Links: iTunes
Company: Zorten Software
Languages: English
Functions: To teach sequencing stories or learn the steps to follow to complete a task.
Versions: One for the iPad.
Price: $4.99 / €3.99