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
Smarty Ears has not only been the leader in app development for speech, language and communication apps, but also has started to push the development of the first apps in languages other than English for promoting language and speech development. Smarty Ears is proud to announce the release of WhQuestions in three additional languages: French, Spanish & Portuguese.
WhQuestions was initially released in January of 2010, and it was one of the first speech therapy apps on the app store. Since its conception and initial release, WhQuestions has gone through many updates and improvements. Most of what users see today is a result of a lot of hard work from all of our team members. The current version of WhQuestions, version 3.6, contains both a receptive and an expressive task. The receptive task was also introduced on this latest version of the app.
Barbara Fernandes, Smarty Ears CEO, has always had a commitment for offering apps in as many languages as possible. Smarty Ears already offers over 10 apps in Portuguese ( www.sefono.com), several in Spanish ( www.espanol.smartyearsapps.com ) , two in French and one in German.
How educational institutions can purchase Smarty Ears apps and get 50% off on all our apps.
Apple has implemented a program called “The Volume Purchase” program. This program allows approved educational institutions to receive 50% off when 20 or more copies of the same app are purchased for their staff members. It is important to note that the developers have the option to opt out of this discount; therefore, not every application will offer the discount even if you purchase 20 copies. All Smarty Ears apps have opt in (option) for the discount. This way, if an educational institution chooses to purchase 20 copies of any of the Smarty Ears apps, they will receive 50% off on the cost of the application. This is a significant saving for the educational institution.
Here is how the program works:
Someone from an educational program must enroll by becoming the program manager for your institution. The program manager will be in charge of making the purchases, and after the codes are downloaded this person is in charge of distributing codes that teachers, therapists and other staff members can use to download the application free of charge on their end.
The program manager can make payments using credit cards (American Express, Discover, MasterCard, and Visa), debit cards, cashier’s check, money orders, and even wire transfer. Financing is also available. For more information you can visit : http://www.apple.com/legal/itunes/volume/us/terms.html
How do I get the app?
After the program manager purchases the copies of the application he will receive codes that can be distributed to the staff members or students. Each person receiving the code must login to their iTunes account and redeem the code. The redeem link is on the right side of the iTunes store (see image below).
Now just click on the link and redeem the app by entering the code given to you.
Speech therapist Barbrara Fernandez foundedSmarty-Ears apps last January and has since created over 15 apps for the field. I spoke to her about Expressive (US $29.95) an augmentative-alternative communication (AAC) app that at first seems similar to the much more expensive Proloquo2Go, but it serves two purposes.
Like most AAC apps or devices, it allows those without the power of speech due to Autism, Downs Syndrome or even temporary verbal problems to communicate. Tapping on categorized symbols allow one to build phrases that are spoken. The app contains 450 pre-set symbols and more can be added.
The second purpose of the app is to teach language and the relationship between symbols and words. Many children have a limited vocabulary and too many unfamiliar symbols would be confusing and overwhelming. “You can start out and delete everything and slowly build the vocabulary and specifically design the application to meet the needs of a student. I think that’s the main concept here.” Expressive helps with “limited expressive language communication skills” so it’s appropriate of all levels of communication disorders.
Expressive is meant to be used by speech therapists in conjunction with parents to build a child’s vocabulary and communication skills. In its simplest iteration, you would start with a noun. When that has been learned, an instructor can odd modifying words and build up from there. Although it may sound simple, seeing a picture of a ball and understanding that it represents all balls may not be obvious for some. There is an edit mode where symbols can be added or deleted and a user mode that doesn’t allow changes. Without this a child could inadvertently delete everything.
Smarty-Ears also has apps for people with other communication problems. There are apps for those that stutter, and kids with articulation delays who have problems pronouncing specific sounds. A number of them are meant to be used by speech therapists, along with special education and ESL teachers. Barbara hopes to make all of her apps bi-lingual. Expressive will be offered in Spanish and Portugese very soon.
One of Barbara’s favorite apps is Pocket Pond HD, an interactive fish pond which she uses to teach the simple concept of interaction. The app looks great, and touching anything in the pond creates splashes while fish, lily-pads and other objects can be added. Cause and effect is not always a simple concept.
Currently, only about 15 percent of speech therapists are using AAC apps but the number is growing and Smarty-Ears will be in the forefront of the field.
With its 1001 ways to improve the life of any human being, the use of the iPad has also been a hot topic in the disability community. It is the combination of superb touch screen devices with the scientific knowledge and experience from a speech therapist that is making the difference for thousands of children and adults with special needs around the world. Barbara Fernandes, a speech pathologist and CEO of Smarty Ears has been developing applications for Apple devices for over one year to help children and adults with a variety of speech and language disorders to improve their communication skills and consequently their quality of life.
Smarty Ears will be showcasing their most recent releases at the Macworld Expo 2011 in San Francisco. Macworld 2011 is “a four day celebration that entertains and educates. Macworld offers access to hundreds of Apple related products and services.” Source: MacworldExpo.com
This year parents of children with a communication disorder such as stuttering, difficulty pronouncing words, or children that cannot communicate due to Autism or Apraxia of speech will have a chance to try out Smarty Ears apps at the Mobile Apps Showcase at the Macworld 2011. Smarty Ears wants to share with the parents and professionals that already use apple devices how this technology can help children with their communication skills.
Smarty Ears will be showcasing their newest app releases. “Articulate it!” is a application designed to help parents practice pronouncing sounds with their children. Many children with articulation disorders have difficulty pronouncing specific sounds. This application gives parents a fun way for in-home pronunciation practice.
Match2Say is a game also designed for children with difficulty pronouncing their sounds in the English language. Match2Say is a game that allows children to have fun while listening to high quality samples of specific sounds while learning at the same time.
Many children with developmental disorders, such as Autism or Down’s syndrome have difficulty speaking using their own voice. Smarty Ears created an application called “Expressive”. With Expressive, children who may have never expressed themselves have a chance to combine pictures that will speak for them.
At US$34.99 Expressive is one of the most affordable apps on the market and it costs a fraction of the devices it rivals, which typically cost anywhere between US$800 and US$4000.
Smarty Ears, a company created in August of 2009 has been the new breakthrough in the area of speech and language therapy. They have released innovative products that combine technology and speech and language sciences, making speech therapy more affordable, fun, and greener. Smarty Ears has already released 15 products on the app Store as of January 2011 and it is expected to release at least 5 new products this spring.
It is time for the Macworld 2011. Smarty Ears will be participating at the Macworld this year with other Mac fanatics. We have 50 free guest passes to give away. If you wish to come, join us and try out our apps just send an an e-mail to [email protected] and we will add your name to our VIP guest list granting you FREE access to the Macworld expo.
Special education apps are increasing its exposure on the internet and on iTunes. Apple once again spotlighted one of Smarty Ears apps. Two of our apps this week are not only amongst top 10 best selling education application on iTunes, but they have also been featured by Apple as “New & Noteworthy”.
Smarty Ears has had a history of very successful products which are recognized by Apple inc. as worthy.
Articulate it!: An application that helps children with speech delays practice their sounds, was also this week #3 best selling education application just one day after its release to the iTunes store.
Smarty Ears would like to thank our users for their support and positive suggestions that have allowed us to create products that help speech therapists, special educators and parents work as a team to help our children with special needs.
If you would like more information about Articulate it! Visit our website; if you would like to download it click the button bellow to see it on the iTunes store.