Communication Apps for Individuals with Disabilities

By Tracey Dowdy

Augmentative communication (AAC) is an alternative method that enables individuals with language disorders to use expressive or receptive language to converse and engage with others. For years, non-verbal meant relying on flash cards or sign language and for those with limited motor skills, there was an added challenge. Now, tablets and iPads have completely revolutionized communication and given a voice to those who need it most.

These apps have been recommended by users and are included on the list of recommended apps on Autism Speaks.

aacorn AAC

aacornaacorn is designed specifically for children with non-verbal Autism, Apraxia, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, MS, developmental delays or difficulty learning language. Instead of folders or laminated cards (PECS), aacorn uses “Word Trees” that intuitively suggests words as the user builds a sentence. Children learn the connections between words instead of looking for them in isolation and thus expand and strengthen their vocabulary. The app features built-n lessons, but also allows you to import your own photos and images, real children speaking with your choice of American, UK, or Australian accents, and “remembers” your child’s frequent word choices, making it highly customizable.

Platform: iPad
Age: All Ages
Cost: $99.99

Attainment’s ELSB

elsb1Attainment’s ELSB – Early Literacy Skills Builder teaches students with moderate to severe intellectual disability and/or autism, including those with complex communication needs. It includes all National Reading Panel components including sight words, fluency, comprehension, and phonics. by taking students through seven progressive steps, narrator Moe the frog leads students through mastery of 14 different skills. By incorporating scripted lessons, least-prompt strategies, teachable objectives, built-in lesson repetition, and ongoing assessments, the app allows parents, teachers and therapists to focus on student behavior and learning.

Platform: iPad
Age: Children (6-12)
Cost: $79.99 (Free “Try-Before-You-Buy” version available as demo)

GoTalk NOW

talknowGoTalk NOW is a full-featured, customizable AAC with a user-friendly touch-based editor. There are three styles of communication pages: Standard, Express, and Scene that can be customized and combined to create uniquely personal books for each user. Choose from the built-in Symbol Set or import photos and images from your camera and photo library that can be cropped or resized, and record your voice or use text-to-speech voice to further customize your books. Back up your books via Dropbox or to any Mac or PC and share them via WiFi with any iPad user who has NOW.

Platform: iPad
Age: 2-18+
Cost: $79.99

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.


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