Interest in using applications (apps) for smart phones and tablets in speech-language treatment has exploded. State and national convention programs, as well as continuing education offerings, reveal wide interest in apps for professional use. But how do speech-language pathologists find good apps that are free or relatively inexpensive?
First, some words of caution: Downloading apps can be expensive. Some are free, most are reasonable, but there is one app for stuttering, for example, that runs almost $1,000. Also, Apple apps do not support Adobe's Flash products, a program that provides freely available interactive material online. This situation may be remedied in the future. Also, some school districts heavily invested in PCs are reluctant to support Apple products, including its many useful apps.
Searching for Apps
Nevertheless, there are many helpful, low-cost apps out there, so how do you find them? These sites are a good starting point for seeing the range available:
There are even apps for finding apps.
- 10 Apps for Finding Apps claims to "help you find the best deals, the best within specific categories, the best for different genders, the best for moms, the best your friends like…. But what’s best about these best-of apps? They’re all free."
- KinderTown claims to help find the best educational apps for kids ages 3 to 6 or download it free.
Finding Recommended Apps
Many SLPs, early childhood specialists, and special educators maintain websites that review and recommend apps for professional use, and their ideas can save you time. A few of the many available include:
- ASHA Leader articles (search "apps") and ASHAsphere, the ASHA blog.
- Members of any ASHA Special Interest Group (SIG) can access a special Perspectives issue on Augmentative and Alternative Communication that includes several articles on apps. The new ASHA Community has an open discussion forum on SLP technology. Check the shared files for an Excel spreadsheet of "education apps."
- Eric Sailers' blog offers reviews and suggestions. His 24-page PDF on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch apps for (Special) Education [PDF, 1.3MB] is a treasure, as is his iPAD Apps and Accessories for Special Needs. He also suggests apps for literacy support.
- Marg Griffin, an SLP who works with students in grades 7–12, suggests "Apps for Older Students to Enhance Language and Learning Skills."
- Find recommended iPad book apps for older and reluctant readers (ages 8–12).
- Dawn Villarreal's extensive and exceptional "One Place for Special Needs" offers a complete guide to nearly 1,500 educational and special needs apps, providing a description, link, and rating opportunity.
- Gary James' "Apps for Children with Special Needs" provides reviews and video demonstrations of apps.
- Joan Tanenhous article on Diskoveries, "Apple iPad and Apps for Special Needs" provides detailed reviews of several APPs.
- Tony Vincent provides links to websites featuring apps. He also has a "Learning Land" webpage.
- Apps For Speech Therapy, a blog by Mirla Raz, evaluates apps.
- GeekSLP, by Barbara Fernandes, includes a blog and video podcast featuring news and information about speech-language treatment technology. She also has a Twitter account (https://twitter.com/#!/GeekSlp).
- The Speech Guy reviews apps and has a Twitter account (https://twitter.com/#!/@azspeechguy).
- Cindy Meester's blog frequently reviews apps.
- APPitic has more than 1,300 education apps to explore, including sections on preschool and special education/autism.
- Special education teacher Patrick Black reviews many apps related to assistive technology.
- Moms With Apps is a collaboration of parent app developers promoting quality apps for kids and families.
- Teachers with Apps was co-founded by a teacher, a special education teacher. and a teacher in early childhood education.
- Apps for Education Update March 2011 is a huge list by SLP Carolann Cormier.
- Susan Suarez 's "Early Intervention Speech Therapy" lists several apps for iPAD/iPHONE and Android.
- Speech Room News, a blog by Jenna Rayburn, features free materials and often evaluates apps.
- An Ohio school district webpage has links to apps for PreK–3 and apps specific to special education.
- iPodsibilities by Megan Wilson, a special education teacher and assistive technology specialist, has reviews, lists, and a blog.
- Aphasia Tool Box has a list of relevant Apple apps; requires free subscription to access).
- iPAD and iPOD for autism from Practical Autism Resources has a spread sheet with ratings, reviews, and suggestions for use.
- Autism Speaks suggests many apps and offers links to sites with apps for autism.
- iPad Apps and Resources for Autism is a spreadsheet compiled by a parent, an adult with autism, and an SLP.
- Spectronic's Apps for AAC by Jane Farrall provides extensive reviews and ratings.
- Autism Epicenter reviews and rates apps for speech and language, AAC, and behavior/social skills.
Apps are exciting! And remember that any device that accesses the Internet can find many freely available materials that don't require Flash. One good listing is "Non-Flash Things for ESL Students" that lists apps that don’t require Flash or Java. Find more ideas at "Examples of Materials That Can Be Adapted For Therapy."