Oh! The thematic units, don’t we all love them? Theme based intervention is a common practice during speech and language sessions. Generally speaking, using themes is something that we think about more for language based interventions than speech and articulation interventions. Many school-based clinicians use themes in their sessions; especially the themes that fall along with the themes being used in the classroom. When a clinician makes the decision to incorporate themes into a session many times they have to create custom materials to fit the classroom theme, especially if we are talking about articulation materials.
Some clinicians have go-to materials for each theme, which makes our lives so much easier. While it is possible and somewhat easy to adapt any articulation material for articulation, it is even better when the articulation material not only integrates the theme, but adds to the beauty of using a theme during a session. Many SLPs now use iPad apps as the go-to for articulation therapy, however not only we get tired of using the same app over and over again, but we all know the children also do. Articulate it is the one and only app that allows users to switch themes on its activities.
Articulate it includes 18 themes that allows clinicians to finally offer children a fresh look into each articulation and phonology session.
Clinicians can tap on the menu and select from the following themes:
4th of July
St. Patricks’ Day
The themes change the skin within the screen on the matching activity, the flashcard activity and the guess what activity. Let me show you guys what some of the themes look like on all three activities:
Besides changing the skin, children can experience a few other changes such as the audio feedback for each activity. The fall theme for example has a gobble gobble audio feedback when switching from one target word to another.
Since Articulate it also offers an activity called ” Guess What?” which used questions to elicit the target word, the app is often used by clinicians with mixed groups of articulation and language students. Therefore, having the theme built-in the app can also make the app a tool for kids working on specific language skills when a thematic unit is in place.
Some themes within Articulate it can actually be a part of several other themes. Clinicians often used the ocean theme on ” Talk like a Pirate” week. However, the now have a dedicated pirate theme.
If students are older or have moved from word to more complex levels of practice, many of the ideas used for language-based therapy such as reading a thematic book or having a discussion using target words are also excellent ways to integrate themes into articulation therapy.
When individuals suffer a stroke, the changes in their lives can have devastating effects. With the help of skilled professionals such as speech-language-pathologist, occupational therapists and physical therapists, stroke survivors can learn to cope with their disability of recover functions lost. There are a lot of apps in the market that can also have a positive effect in recovering language skills lost due to a stroke. Apps such as some developed by Smarty Ears were designed with stroke survivors in mind.
Language Trainer was created specifically to help individuals improve their mastery of spoken language. Designed by a certified speech-language pathologist, Language Trainer is perfect for working on vocabulary, word finding, stuttering, and receptive or expressive language therapy. Language Trainer compliments and facilitates the work of the busy speech-language pathologist or caregiver. Language Trainer includes four activities within one application. You can download it from iTunes here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/language-trainer/id733555247?mt=8
Another app that is essential to stroke survivors who struggle with reading is called Reading Rehabilitation Toolkit. The Reading Rehabilitation Toolkit integrates six state-of-the-art reading activities at the word and phrase levels all specifically crafted to promote success in reading rehabilitation. Learn more about it here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/reading-rehabilitation-toolkit/id590202982?mt=8
The third essential app is called iName it. iName It is specifically designed to help individuals with difficulty recalling the names of common items found in the home. Developed by speech-language pathologists, iName It provides users with a systematic way to recall functional words needed for activities of daily living. iName It consists of fifty nouns that are displayed within the context of the rooms where they are typically located, such as bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, etc… Each target word can be elicited by using one of more of the five different types of cues available: phonemic, phase completion, whole word or semantic. Learn more about this app here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/iname-it/id486781414?mt=8
We have been making apps since 2009 and throughout the years we have made hundreds of updates throughout our apps. Creating educational apps requires a great deal of upkeep. We always want to make sure our apps don’t get left behind. When we started creating apps in 2009, the iPad was not even out yet. While it does seem like another lifetime, it was just the other day. Our apps back then were the most advanced apps at the time they were created, however if you were to play with some of those original versions today you would certainly be disappointed in Smarty Ears.
As Apple makes each device more advanced, we also strive to make sure all our apps are also as wonderful as each new device. Updating over fifty apps take a significant amount of time and effort on our part and we absolutely love looking at our apps with critical eyes and ask ourselves ” how can I make this app better?”. Each year, we probably release updates to each app, as Apple updates their iOS systems.
Updating apps is a must at times, when Apple’s operating system goes through major changes and makes apps simply stop working or causing strange behaviors.
Customer feedback is also something we always take note when updating our apps. We love receiving suggestions from our customers and we try very hard to look at every suggestion and criticism as an opportunity to make our app better. While our apps go through in-house testing, clinicians and parents out there can have major insights as to how certain features would be helpful to specific children and adults we aim to help though out apps.
Many times, when we create a new app we realize we should have used that new feature on all previous apps and that’s how we go back and start implementing that new feature on all our apps, such as the compatibility with the Therapy Report Center app.
Some other source of insight of our updates comes from chatting with users at conventions. As we have just returned from the 2016 Asha Convention in Philadelphia, we are pumped with ideas of new features for some of our most loved apps. If you have a suggestion, write to us, we would love to hear from you.
Ultimately, we strive often to make sure anyone who opens and buys Smarty Ears apps feel like they have just unlocked the best of what is out there, regardless if that app is a brand new release or an app that was created in 2009.
The iPad has allowed publishers to expand their reach across borders. As apps are created and published on the app store, the developer has the choice to make them available around the world. Developers can specifically select in which countries they want their app to appear.
When it comes to speech and language apps things get very complicated. While most of these apps are available world wide, only a portion of the world speaks English, and therefore despite the availability, only a handful of apps really have an international appeal when it comes to apps targeting speech, language or communication skills.
Having learned two languages, English and Spanish, as an adult and being from Brazil has led me to have an added interest to making sure the apps I create were available in as many language as possible.
Despite of what many of my non-SLP friends think, being an SLP and being a language expert, does not mean that all SLPs are experts in all languages. (We could only wish).
While translating some non-language based to other languages may in of itself be a challenge and require the skills of a trained translator, translating speech and language apps pose yet another set of difficulties that require not only a translator but most likely the supervision of a speech pathologist with proficiency in both languages.
I am fortunate enough to be trilingual, and have some basic proficiency in a couple other languages. However even being a native speaker of Portuguese has led me to make some mistakes when creating speech therapy apps in Portuguese, despite having some of my training done in brazil. One quick example was when creating an articulation and phonology assessment in Portuguese. The way the position of each sound within the word are accounted for and classified are completely different than the way we do in English, for example in the word sapato / sapatu/ (shoe) – the phoneme /t/ is considered a sound in the final position of the word for being in the final syllable. So when we created the app we had to make sure syllables and sounds are appropriately classified according to the Brazilian standards, not the American. This is something I had to discuss with a local speech-pathologist and it was a big “aha” moment for me when we tried to match our classifications when selecting the words. The app, Avaliação de Fonologia e Articulação do Português has been now available since 2012 and is widely used by speech pathologist in Brazil. It is the only iPad based assessment app available to SLPs in Brazil.
Today, I am proud that Smarty Ears has made significant progress in making our apps multilingual. All of our apps were adapted to other languages with the help of other speech-language-pathologists from around the world.
The importance of bilingual apps in service delivery of bilingual children
The fact is that most of the population in the world speaks more than one language. Even in the United States alone the number of bilingual homes is enormous. “The 2007 American Community Survey found that a bit more than 55 million inhabitants spoke a language other than English at home.” Grosjean, 2010.
Unfortunately, as a bilingual clinician in the United States, I know firsthand that there is still a significant scarcity of materials that are made in languages other than English .
The need to assess and treat speech and language in both languages makes it all more fundamental that we make language options within the app available. This is a step we have worked hard to make a reality over the years.
It would be instrumental for a bilingual SLP to have an app that can easily switch languages within the task to offer the child exposure to practicing that skill on both languages.
Language specific apps
Whenever possible we try to add the language as an option within the app, however this not always works as the differences between the structure of the languages can be significant as to require that we release a completely different app on that language. A few examples of this are our articulation and phonology apps for both assessment and treatment. We have released articulation assessment apps in both Portuguese and Spanish.
As far as articulation therapy apps we have Spanish Artik and Academia da Articulation in Spanish and Portuguese. Neither one of these apps would have worked as a language option within our existing English articulation therapy app Articulate it.
One other example of apps that might require separate apps for each language are syntax and grammar apps. A while back we attempted to make our app Preposition Remix available with a language option in Portuguese, only to find myself stuck with the fact that some prepositions in English are represented by the same preposition in Portuguese. We have yet to make a Prepositions app in other languages, but we will get there.
Changing or adapting cultural items
Another consideration we must have when adding a language within the app is making sure we consider cultural differences, not only across the various languages and specific tasks but also across countries.
While we try at times to incorporate American culture into our apps, we have attempted to make our apps as international as possible. This has been instrumental in making sure that our apps remain appropriate for users in other English speaking countries such as Canada, Australian or England.
We receive compliments often from our users in Australia about how some of our apps such as Reading Comprehension Camp has stories that are very friendly to children no mater their background.
At times, we know that when we offer the change of language within the app we must make sure all items are still appropriate for children of other backgrounds. One recent challenge we had was on the latest addition of Spanish as a language option to Describe it to me. A few of the items made references
The dialects of the languages
We all know that not all speakers of English sound the same. If you consider just English for example, we have regional dialects within America (e.g. east coast or southern) as well as more distinct dialects of Britain or Australian English. We have yet to make any adaptations to the different dialects of any language. This can pose a challenge mostly for articulation and phonology apps where some words can be grouped completely different based on the dialect.
The same difficulty is true for all other languages. Spanish is spoken with a different dialect everywhere in the world. Since most, if not all, of our apps include some sort of an audio component deciding which dialect to use can be a topic of consideration.
We recently had a user of our recently translated app Language Trainer from the Netherlands complain how the dialect used in the app was from Belgium. We just had to remind her that no dialect is better than another and the SLP in Belgium had provided an appropriate translation for Dutch speakers, and despite the slight variation the app was now available in Dutch and we should all celebrate it.
Creating and adapting apps into other languages is one of the goals of Smarty Ears and we hope to continue to lead in this area. If you are looking for apps in languages other than English see a list of our apps below currently available in various languages.
Available Smarty Ears apps in languages other than English
Describe it to me
Bilingual Articulation and Phonology Assessment
Reading Rehabilitation Toolkit
Auditory Memory Club
Fun & Functional
Auditory Memory Club
Reading Rehabilitation Toolkit
Academia da Articulation
Basic Concepts Skills Screener
Fun & Functional
Avaliacao de Fonologia e Articulacao do Portugues
1. Language Trainer
2. Reading Rehabilitation Toolkit
Grosjean, Francois. The extent of bilingualism. In Grosjean, F. (2010). Bilingual: Life and Reality. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
ASHA. (2013). Bilingual Service Delivery. Retrieved from: http://www.asha.org/PRPSpecificTopic.aspx?folderid=8589935225§ion=Key_Issues
It is official! Our very own Founder and CEO will be presenting ( once again) at the Asha convention. The 2014 convention of the American Speech-Language and Hearing association is set to take place in Orlando between November 20-22 of 2014. Barbara Fernandes has presented numerous times at the annual convention. This year she will be presenting on the topic area of Business & Management.
The session is set to take place on Friday, November 21, 2014 at 11:00 AM.
The session title is: Efficient Caseload management Across Apps.
Smarty Ears was a proud sponsor of the 2014 Asha convention in Chicago! The convention hit a record attendance this year and we loved being a part of it. Our apps are loved by many clinicians and their clients and it shows during the convention. We loved attending and getting to hear the feedback from everyone at this year’s Asha convention. Thank you so much for everyone who stopped by our booth to check out some of our latest apps. Check out some of the shots we got during this year’s convention:
Tiffani Wallace enjoying her time at our booth
Lots of interest about our latest apps
Debra Kerner showing off great apps
We were always busy!
We are looking forward to seeing you all again next year!
It is that time again! How about using Smarty Ears screening & assessment apps to make your back to school days much easier and less stressful? Smarty Ears has a collection of screening and assessment apps that are perfect for the first few weeks of school. Learn more about them by watching video tutorials or reading the reviews done by professionals using these amazing tools. Check out our apps on sale until August 19th, 2013:
Description: This app is designed to help you document all observations and considerations essential to an assistive technology evaluation. ATEval2Go transfers the recording functions accomplished by paper, heavy computer equipment and other devices to the portable and easy-to-use iPad interface.
Description: The Common Core Early Language Screener (CCELS) is a screening tool used to identify weaknesses in early language skills. The CCELS was designed to be used with Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten aged children; however, the screener can be used for other groups if needed. The skills assessed on the CCELS vary depending on the grade level choice selected by the evaluator.
Description: Basic Concepts Skill Screener (BCSS) is a quick, motivational screening tool created to help assess the basic concept skills in children. Designed by certified speech-language pathologists, BCSS uses technology to engage clients while assessing their school readiness skills. Perfect for all levels from preschool to early elementary, BCSS assesses the concept skills needed for pre-reading and math skills. The Basic Concepts Skills Screener is sure to be a great app for the busy speech-language pathologist, teacher, parent, or caregiver. Available in Portuguese & English
Description: The Bilingual Articulation and Phonology Assessment (BAPA) was developed for the purpose of assess-ing the articulatory and phonological abilities of Spanish-speaking and bilingual (English-Spanish) children. Best practices for assessment of speech sound disorders for bilingual children recommends an as-sessment of all languages spoken by the child. Through assessing both languages, one can more easily rule out or explain second-language influences and can describe errors observed in both languages as well as those errors specific to each language.
Description: Dysphagia2Go guides you through the evaluation process with reminders to assess medications, cranial nerves and all the areas on which any good dysphagia evaluation should focus. This app provides a thorough evaluation report template developed by speech pathologists who have drawn upon their experience in varied settings to provide extensive opportunities to record chart reviews, assessment data, and recommendations in a single document, which can then be printed or e-mailed directly from the user’s iPad. ( Soon available in Spanish, Portuguese and Italian)
Sunny Articulation Phonology Test (Everyone’s favorite)
Description: The Sunny Articulation and Phonology Test can be used to identify articulation errors patterns in children as well as adults. The Sunny Articulation Phonology Test (SAPT) is an individually administered clinical tool for screening, identification, diagnosis and follow-up evaluation of articulation skills in English speaking individuals.
Description: The Profile of Phonological Awareness (Pro-PA) was developed for the purpose of evaluating and describing the phonological awareness skills of children. This evaluation can be considered as part of a full speech, language, and/or literacy evaluation or can be stand alone.
Description: The easiest, cheapest and most advanced way to track your %SS (Percentage of stuttered syllables).The Disfluency Index Counter app allows Speech and Language Therapists to perform a live count of the number of fluent or disfluent syllables. This application comes with two styles of counters: A simple and an advanced counter.
Description: In the past, when you downloaded a new Smarty Ears app you would have to add each student to the app, one by one. Now with the TRC, you enter your students on TRC only once and export all of the students at the same time to each newly downloaded or existing Smarty Ears app. This makes the process of adding students one by one to many apps a simple two-step process. In the past, if you owned 10 Smarty Ears apps, and had 40 students on your caseload, you would have to repeat the process of adding students 400 times. The TRC saves time and makes the use of the iPad even more efficient.
The iPad has been a bit hit among children and adults, and for a couple of years it has been used to help individuals with autism to communicate and learn. Now, the iPad is also being used to help elderly individuals who suffer from reading difficulties due to a stroke or other neurological pathologies.
A stroke can leave individuals with a language disorder called aphasia. Aphasia can impact a person’s ability to understand written and spoken language. Alzheimer’s disease can also be the source of a person’s difficulty to read and write correctly. These individuals can receive speech-language services, which is designed to re-habilitate their language skills.
A speech-language pathologist, Barbara Fernandes, created an application for the iPad called Reading Rehabilitation Toolkit that is helping adults to recover reading skills. The application is currently available in two languages: English and Brazilian Portuguese. There are plans to translate this application to other languages in the future such as Spanish and French.
The Reading Rehabilitation Toolkit application, also known as “Afasia Pro” in Portuguese, targets improving reading skills for adults with reading difficulties. The Reading Rehabilitation Toolkit integrates six state-of-the-art reading activities at the word and phrase levels all specifically crafted to promote success in reading rehabilitation. The application contains hundreds of words, organized into semantic categories to facilitate its use.
A video demo of the application can be seen here:
The application displays a series of words and images that must be matched by the user. One of the activities requires the user to look at a picture, read a question and answer multiple-choice questions. The app also promotes writing with one activity that allows users to combine words to create short phrases.
This is a step forward into the future, where family members can take an active role on helping their parents, or grandparents who suffered a stroke to re-gain reading skills by using the application at home. Part of the treatment for stroke victims was to promote reading at home, and this application can serve as a great practice activity with monitoring at home.
For more information visit the Smarty Ears Website www.smartyearsapps.com
by Rick Waters ’95
Updated: Wednesday, January 09, 2013
Barbara Fernandes ’08 MA is the founder and CEO of Smarty Ears apps, an industry leader in speech therapy and assistive technology. (Photo by Carolyn Cruz)
Barbara Fernandes ’08 MA still calls it the “a-ha moment.”
In fall 2008, she was a first-year speech pathologist and language evaluator for the Irving school district, the only bilingual therapist in the district, when she met Michael, a 5-year-old preschooler who had not spoken at school in his first two months. His teacher suspected autism.
Fernandes knew the boy liked cars and trains, but he had little interest in talking or looking at flashcards with her. He did, however, think her mobile phone was a toy with which he could entertain himself.
Rather than put the device away, Fernandes did a search for “transportation,” downloaded some images of various vehicles and handed over her iPhone.
“Boat,” the boy whispered. “Plane.”
His voice grew louder and more assured.
“He just began naming them. I was just trying to get him to speak, for him to say a word, and this unlocked him,” she said. “I never expected to have that kind of immediate response.”
The iPhone was less than a year old then, but Fernandes realized paper flashcards were an ancient technology and mobile devices had worlds of possibility with images and sound and animation.
A technophile growing up in Brazil, Fernandes tinkered with her own website growing up and had come to the United States to study assistive technology, but now she had a vision for how it could be used in schools and homes with children with disabilities and their parents.
In fall 2009, she published her first app under the name Smarty Ears. It featured the entire phonetic alphabet with corresponding sounds, words and images for each letter or blend. She took it to conferences and got a lukewarm response.
“Most people were very resistant at first, but some were really intrigued,” she said. “I was surprised it wasn’t 100 percent.”
But families loved it. What used to be a frustrating daily practice was now being seen as play.
As word-of-mouth spread to practitioners and they tried it, the app began selling fast. By then, Fernandes was about to release her second app — on conjugating verbs — and had four more in the works.
In the spring of 2010, Apple released the iPad and Smarty Ears “really took off,” she said.
“It pushed me to make my old apps better,” she said. “The tablet is really the ideal size for working with children.”
Now, Fernandes has 60 apps in English, Spanish and her native Portuguese and is considered a pioneer in the speech therapy industry. Ranging in cost from $1.99 to $49.99, Smarty Ears apps are the No. 1 brand with more than 150,000 downloads and are used in more than 40 countries, covering language development, articulation, autism, aphasia and voice disorders.
Fernandes and her husband Jonathan, a former English teacher who now helps craft the curriculum, employ six programmers, illustrators and interface designers. Smarty Ears has published 26 authors in nearly every practice within speech pathology and language evaluation. The company also has an 11-member advisory board of experts, parents and teachers.
Those first Smarty Ears apps seem primitive compared to the ones the company makes now, which include games, stories and animation that rival computer games and Saturday morning cartoons. Voice recording and camera technology also soup up the experience, allowing students to listen and watch their own mouths form phonics and sounds. There are also sophisticated reporting components built in, which track students’ scores and allow speech therapists to monitor progress.
Now, Fernandes is a highly sought speaker at conferences and is considered an expert in assistive technology.
“I have people come up to me now who just want to shake my hand or take a picture with me like I am some personality,” she said. “It’s gratifying to see the impact this is having.”
Many times, we are able to provide a free trial code of our apps that will allow presenters, and AT centers to test our apps. If you provide training to parents or speech-language pathologists on apps for children with communication disorders and would like a free trial codes, just e-mail us at [email protected]. Our codes are VERY limited, and unfortunately we are only able to give away codes to presenters. Please include the date , location & the intended audience of your training on your e-mail so we can better assist you. Many times we do not have codes available, but you can always check with us. Please remember that these codes have an expiration date: four weeks after redeemed.
There are two ways to redeem your code.
Directly on your iPhone or iPad
If you are redeeming your code on iTunes, follow these steps:
Open iTunes and find the “App Store” button;
Find the “redeem” button on the right side of your screen on iTunes;
3. Enter the code provided to you;
4. Wait until app is downloaded
5. Enjoy your app and we hope you can write a review telling us how you like the app.
If you are redeeming your promo code directly on device, follow these steps:
1. Open the ” App store” on you iPhone or iPad,
2. Navigate to the “featured” section;
3. Scroll to the bottom of the list to find the ” redeem” button;
4. Enter the promo code and tap ” redeem”
5. Once you are done; click on ” done” and check to make sure your app is being downloaded.