They seemed like a match made in heaven in the eyes of every friend, but their passion for helping children made Jonathan and Barbara Fernandes an even stronger couple. For the last year Barbara, a speech therapist and Jonathan, a Dallas ISD English teacher have been creating apps that can help children with a variety of delays to communicate better.
Barbara and Jonathan have created nearly 20 applications within the last year, all of them towards helping children with a form of a communication difficulty. Barbara has always been “geeky” and started experimenting with graphic designs and programming by the age of 11. Jonathan is a passionate artistic English teacher and the voice featured in almost all of their applications.
“We love spending time together, recording and editing our voices that will be used to help so many children all around the world. Some of our apps feature both of our voices. It is a lot of fun to see the result after many hours of work!”
As an English teacher and artist, Jonathan is responsible for making sure children are learning good English skills. As a speech Therapist, Barbara makes sure all apps are appropriate to target some skills that are affected the most by children with language disorders. They are building the bridge between regular and special education by working as a team.
Speech Therapy most of the time is expensive and the parents rarely have access to the same materials used to practice speech and language skills. While Smarty Ears’ apps do not replace speech therapy, the developers love being able to tell a parent that they can now also help their children at home with these apps in order to maximize the results. It is a well know fact that the more children practice the quicker we are to accomplish results; parental support is the key to success.
“Our apps are simple to use and can also be used not only by special education teachers but also by teacher in regular education that should always be providing support to children with speech delays” says Barbara Fernandes.
Smarty Ears has apps such as: Articulate it! Or /r/ intensive that are designed for children that have difficulty pronouncing some sounds. In order to improve the ability to say certain sounds, children will need lots of practice daily. Parents can use these apps to help their children at home with drills based on the sounds they are having difficulty with. One of our apps called Match2Say is a matching game that organizes the sounds and allows children to play while practicing the sounds they have difficulty with.
Smarty Ears also has apps for children and adults who stutter, and also apps such as iPractice Verbs and WhQuestions for children with language delays. This month we will also be releasing our first Augmentative communication app: Expressive. Expressive is an application designed to help individuals who do not communicate verbally to be able to express their basic wants and needs. Expressive is an alternative communication application that is intended to be functional and easy to use. It is very easy to program and make the words fit the child’s need. We also plan to release it in Portuguese and Spanish still this year.
Apple has given our world an amazing set of devices. Developers can now make these products available to parents at a price that is a fraction of what comparable technology or services would cost.