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A review of innovative apps for students with communication needs

Lauren A. Menard, EdD


Recent advancements in technology have expanded the customizability, portability, convenience, and availability of augmentative and alternative communication devices. Convergence of systems and federal funding commitment offer an opportunity to redefine assistive technology for those with special needs. All-in-one communication applications (apps) offer service providers powerful tools for addressing the normalization principle and best practices of accessibility, generalization across environments, and meaningful participation. The visual communication systems that once encompassed wall panels or rolling carts now fit in a pocket. However, a gap exists between development of new, award-winning apps and implementation—a gap widened by lack of awareness. In this review, a brief description of traditional visual communication strategies (ie, Picture Exchange Communication System and Boardmaker) is given and two innovative communication apps (ie, Proloquo2Go and Grace) are described. The themes of cost, the cool factor, and accessibility are discussed. The goal of this review is to increase awareness and to encourage discussions leading to quality therapeutic and instructional models using the new, innovative devices.


augmentative communication, assistive technology, special education

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