Touch-screen mobile devices offer new avenues for treatment and expression for people with aphasia. Here are more than 25 apps speech-language pathologists can use with clients with aphasia. So far, this market is dominated by apps for Apple iDevices (iOS), though Android does offer some helpful built-in apps.
Watching someone say a word or phrase helps those with severe aphasia and apraxia to repeat it or speak in unison. The Lingraphica Small Talk apps, free for iOS, provide videos and captions of phonemes, blends, words, and phrases. SpeakinMotion's apps ($4.99–$12.99, iOS) pair videos of slow speech and singing with subtitles for practice of common songs, sequences, and conversations. Speech Sounds on Cue–U.S. English ($149.99, iPad only, free trial of /w/ available) offers phrase-completion and rhyming tasks with audio feedback.
Tactus Therapy Solutions offers the Language TherAppy suite of aphasia apps ($59.99 for all four, $14.99-$24.99 each, free trial available, iOS) for comprehension, naming, writing, and reading.
For those learning to write with their non-dominant hand, Intro to Letters ($4.99, iOS) provides a sleek interface for tracing single letters, and Dexteria includes tracings of letters and numbers along with finger exercises ($4.99, iOS).
Many apps provide opportunities for language stimulation even though they're not explicitly designed for treatment. Food-making games such as More Grillin' ($0.99, iOS) and Cookie Doodle ($0.99, iOS) provide clients with aphasia a chance to follow and give directions in simulated activities. Functional single- and multi-step directions, scene-based naming, and storytelling all can be accomplished by repurposing My PlayHome ($2.99, free trial available, iOS) for adults. Conversation Cards ($1.99, iOS) provides thought-provoking conversations starters. If the device is connected to the Internet, try Video Time Machine ($2.99, iOS) for news, sports, commercials, and other videos from the client's era to elicit memories and stories.
A good start for using apps for augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) with aphasia, Answers: YesNo HD ($3.99, free version available, iOS) offers two fully customizable voice-output buttons for yes/no and binary choices. Both Scene Speak ($9.99, iPad only) and Scene & Heard ($49.99, free trial available, iOS) use customizable scenes with hotspots for messages in a visual scene display format. Pictello ($18.99, iOS) is a talking photo album that can be customized to help people with aphasia learn scripts or tell stories. For personal information, All About Me Storybook ($2.99, iOS) can be used to practice or communicate important safety information and preferences.
For full-featured AAC, MyVoice ($189.99, iOS and Android) is a promising app that uses GPS for context-related vocabulary and allows programming via the Web. Proloquo2Go ($189.99, iOS) and TalkTablet US ($89.99, iPad only) are customizable category-based apps for communication. For those with some writing skills, Predictable ($159.99, iOS) offers text-prediction, symbol-supported stored messages, and handwriting recognition.
Apps You Already Have
Mobile devices typically include a camera that can be used for taking photos to help retell events or reference people or objects. It also allows the user to make video calls via Facetime (built into iOS devices) or Skype (free app for iOS and Android). The Maps app (built into iOS and Android devices) provides a visual support for conversation about places and experiences, especially using Google's Street View.
The new iPad features voice dictation built into the keyboard; the iPhone 4S has Siri to recognize voice commands to compose messages, place calls, and find information. Android devices have the Voice Typing app to do the same. The Dragon Dictation app (free, iOS) will achieve similar results in older devices, exporting the created text to e-mail or social media. Also, changing a few accessibility settings allows iOS users to hear any selected text (on websites and e-mails, for instance) spoken aloud. Android also has a built-in text-to-speech setting that reads text aloud in compatible apps, helpful for people with aphasia whose listening skills are better than their reading.
Disclosure: Megan Sutton is a director for Tactus Therapy Solutions Ltd., in Vancouver, Canada, an app development company mentioned in this article.