Created by a speech-language pathologist, Expressive is an entry- to mid-level, easy-to-use, and highly customizable app designed for both children and adults with communication impairments.
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Finding a voice with EXPRESSIVE

Created by a speech-language pathologist, Expressive is an entry- to mid-level, easy-to-use, and highly customizable app designed for both children and adults with communication impairments.
Expressive is designed to transform the iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPad into a reasonably priced augmentative and alternative communication device.
With well over 10,000 built-in images, access to the Smarty Symbols library, the ability to add personal pictures, and an amazing 11 voice options, Expressive is dynamic, intuitive, and fully customizable to help provide a voice for those who are unable to speak for themselves.

Who can benefit from EXPRESSIVE?
Expressive is highly customizable and versatile. Expressive can benefit children, teenagers, and adults who need an alternative mode of communication. Expressive was designed to be used to help individuals diagnosed with autism, cerebral palsy, childhood apraxia of speech, stroke, traumatic brain injury, aphasia, dysarthria, and many more.
In addition, an individual in need of a temporary way to voice wants and needs due to surgery, accident, or other issue can benefit from Expressive’s low price and intuitive design.


How to Use

Expressive is an easy-to-use app. When the app first opens, the recommendation to watch the video tutorial is displayed. The video demonstrates all of the customization available within the app. Don’t want to watch it right away?
No worries, the video is available from the information button.

Home Screen
The Home Screen is the default opening page.


Organization and Navigation
Each page is organized into folders for ease in locating images. An image with a color coded “tab” indicates a folder. The color coding is used to help with organization as well as to help individuals learn parts of speech (Beukelman & Miranda, 2005) for maximum literacy gains.
Tapping on the folder will generate a new page with additional images and/or subfolders for selection. Folders for areas like categories, expressions, food, and places contain subfolders to allow maximum organization.



To return to the home screen, simply tap on the HOME icon. To return to the previous page, tap on the back arrow.
Both the home and back arrow are located on the bottom left corner of every page except the home page.


There are many ways Expressive can be customized. A tap to the settings gear button brings up this screen.
Lock: removes the editing buttons so the app cannot be modified.


To reset, simply tap and hold the lock button in the lower right hand corner.
Capital/lowercase: Change printing to allow capital/lowercase letters in selected words.
Speak Folder: The app will automatically speak folder names as they are selected.
Automatically Erase Messages: Clears the message area immediately after the phrase/sentence is spoken.
Text Position: Text can be placed on top of, or below the image.
Font: There are a multitude of fonts to choose.
Speed: Adjusts the speed of the spoken words.


Voice: Allows the individual to select one of 11 voices. Tap the voice area and a selector wheel will appear.
The individual can select between male/female and various English dialects (US, UK, Australia, Ireland, South Africa).
Need to adjust image size?
Expressive has four (4) options for the number of images displayed on the screen at any given time. The sizes are Large, Medium, Small, and Extra Small. Touch the Size area on the settings screen to customize.


Large allows up to 6 images on the screen in a 2×3 grid. This is the largest size available.


Medium: 4×6 grid

Extra Small provides the maximum number of images/folders on a screen with a 8×12 grid.


small: 5×7 grid

Editing Pages, Folders, and Images
Expressive allows the individual to add, remove, and hide folders and images.
Changing Layout
To change the layout of a screen, simply tap and hold an image. The image will lift and can then be dragged to the desired location. This allows the individual to optimize the page and customize the location of each category of words based on use and personal needs (Loncke, 2014).
Adding Images and Folders
Expressive allows an individual to create their own folders and images. This allows an individual to expand his/her available vocabulary and support communication growth (Bueckelman & Mirenda, 2005; Loncke, 2014)
To add an image or folder, simply tap the plus button.

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A pop-up window will display. Simply tap on the desired item: folder or image.
Adding Images
After selecting “Add Image” a pop-up window will display
Add the image name, image, and select a color.
The app will allow the individual full access to the Smarty Symbols library (with over 10,000 images) or to add a personal image.
To select a personal image, when asked allow Expressive to access photos. The individual will be able to create individual and meaningful images.



Adding Folders
The process for adding folders is very similar to adding images. Tap on the plus button and select “add folder.”
The pop-up window will display for you to select a folder color, enter a folder name, and assign an image to a folder.
Once a folder is created, individual images may then be added inside the folder.
Tap, hold, and drag the newly created folder to move it to the desired location on the screen.

Managing Folders/Images
Expressive allows an individual to delete, replace, and hide individual images or whole folders. Simply tap on the X on the button row at the bottom of the screen. The screen will flash slightly and a red warning will indicate the app is in edit mode.
To edit the page, simply tap on the image/folder. A pop-up window will display.



Deleting an image/folder will permanently remove it from the screen.
Replacing an image/folder will allow an individual to customize pictures and or image names.
Hiding an image or folder allows the individual to remove an item from view while still keeping it available for future use. When the folder/image is hidden a blank space displays where the image was.

To recover the folder/image, simply tap the space and select “unhide.” The folder/image will reappear.


To complete the changes, simply tap on the green checkmark at the bottom left hand corner of the page. All changes made to the app will be applied.
Note: Once an image/folder is deleted or replaced, the changes cannot be canceled unless the app is restored from iTunes.

Built in Vocabulary Builders

Expressive has many areas of expanded vocabulary including accelerated messages or ready-to-use common phrases (Buekelman & Mirenda, 2005) such as those found in the “Expressions” subpage.
In addition, there is a Social Media folder which includes those phrases typical of teens and adults such as “check my e-mail,” “google it,” and “tweet that for me.”
The Expressions and Idioms folder contains common expressions found in English including phrases such as “devil’s advocate,” “piece of cake,” and “Once in a blue moon.”
Having these expanded vocabulary selections and the ability to create a custom vocabulary ensures the ability to access the words needed to communicate in today’s world, using today’s language (Bueckelman & Mirenda, 2005).

Video Tutorial
Expressive has the following features:
Customizable layout
Built-in voice options
Includes both male and female voices
Ability to add images
Ability to add folders
Available for iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPad
Ability to change font styles
Ability to change speed of speech
Search button for quick image locating
Lock feature to prevent accidental modifications
Full video tutorial
Back-up to iTunes

Carrie Manchester,

“I love the customization! Adding photos can make your folders more specific, relevant, and meaningful to the person who will be using the app… As a person who has configured a certain speech-output device (that shall remain nameless), I found Expressive to be EXTREMELY easy to set up!”


“Expressive can be easily customized, including adding folders, images, and buttons. Each can be customized with any text, pictures, and color coding system if desired. It’s all very easy to figure out and very intuitive! The buttons can also be rearranged easily.”


“My 6-year-old client with autism was able to find his way through the folders in a matter of minutes.”

“Overall, I am really enjoying Expressive! I think it may be a good option as an entry into AAC iPad apps for people who are looking for a budget-friendly but still very useful app. Because of the ability to customize the folders and symbols, if you spend a bit of time you can really make it into a powerful AAC tool!”

Buekelman, D. & Mirenda, P. (2005), Augmentative & alternative communication. Supporting children & adults with complex communication needs – Third Edition. Paul H Brooks Publishing, Baltimore, MD.
Loncke, F. (2014). Augmentative and alternative communication. Models and applications for educators, speech-language pathologists, psychologists, caregivers, and users. Plural Publishing, San Diego, CA.