There is a lot of social fabric that we take for granted because it just seems invisible to us. It’s so integral to our everyday lives that it just fades into the background, but that simply isn’t true for everyone… Little social norms that seem like nothing to you and me can be really overwhelming and daunting to many students. This can be even more pronounced of a problem for students with autism or other special needs, as it can even cause a fair degree of anxiety. Social Quest has become the go-to-app for older students who struggle with social skills as it gives real practical practice for learning to reflect, predict and practice good social etiquette and problem solving skills within everyday life so that they feel better prepared and less stressed as they encounter social situations in real life.
Practice Real-world situations in the home, school and community —- This app does a brilliant job of covering real life things that will likely come up in the places they will spend the most time. This pragmatic approach makes it easy to see the real world carry over.
A third of the app is based where kids spend the most time— HOME: If you’re a parent you know first hand that just getting kids to get along better with those they live with is so important for the quality of life to both the child and the rest of their family. Basic family life has so many important social situations many of which will be vital for the rest of their lives. Home includes the following areas as sub targets with — living room, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and the garage/yard.
Another third of the app is based on SCHOOL— let’s face it if you’re a teacher or an SLP you really want things to go smoothly for your student, not to be selfish but it makes your day go so much smoother and you feels great knowing the student can move from different areas of the school without you there to help them. If you’re a parent, you don’t want to be worrying about what goes on when you’re not there. You’re probably already aware of the difficulties your child has in social situations and it is a big relief knowing your kid is walking into them a little more prepared. School includes the following areas as sub targets with classroom, auditorium/library, cafeteria, hallway/office, yard/gymnasium
The last third is divided into common areas in the Community— eventually you want the student to be successful not just at home and at school but at places they will most frequently visit. Community includes the following areas as sub targets with grocery store, mall, restaurant, neighborhood, movies, doctor/dentist office
There’s more than one right answer— time to promote flexible thinking! — rarely is life like a math equation with just one right answer. So often there are multiple appropriate decisions that could have been made. Teaching flexible thinking is crucial in getting students to start making better social decisions. By recognizing that there is more than one right way can alleviate the stress of the situation. It also builds those critical thinking skills that are so important in day to day life. The receptive mode (multiple choice) of the app contains two correct answers for every question. In the settings you can decide whether the student must find both correct answers or if one correct answer is sufficient. This is great as a scaffolding technique so that the app can be more at the student’s current individual level. If the student is very successful finding both correct answers in the receptive mode then we have a more challenging setting to match their needs “expressive” mode.
In the expressive mode (open ended responses) of the app students can receive credit for multiple correct answers. You can mark multiple incorrect answers too, but the importance is that it is a big progression when a student can finally start envisioning for themselves the multiple appropriate ways to handle a situation!
There is an enormous amount of content on Social Quest— 850 questions. Don’t settle for all these second rate apps in the app store that are out there that only have 10, 20, 30, or 50 questions. Fortunately, Social Quest was developed by Smarty Ears who has been a leader and an innovator that have over the last 7 years solidified their status as the Gold Standard of apps in the Speech therapy and Special Education community. They design all of their apps to make sure that it is something you can use often without much repetition. All of their apps have been thoughtfully designed from the inside out by a real SLP and a real teacher— this is not just lip service they know what its like to be in the classroom and they care about the experience that both the adult SLP or teacher experience as well as they care about the success of the student.
It has a Fun Game-like-approach that makes being a “social detective” engaging. From the “teleporter” than brings students to their target areas, to the “Hall of Rewards” that stores the trophies students earn while playing the receptive mode, this app incorporates some of the techniques that make video games fun to teens to make for a more engaging experience while practicing Social Skills.
Throughout the years we all have gotten the routine of articulation testing down: Look for clean protocols, or buy them if we run out, find the test and dig out the scoring book. During the test we rush to transcribe what we have heard and then we spend double the time we spent with the child scoring and writing the report for that assessment. Yes! It was painful. Lucky someone said, “There has to be a better way!”.
Technology and brilliant minds have made the process of speech assessment so different. Back in 2010, a screener for articulation was released called Sunny Articulation and Phonology Test. It could be used as a screener or as supplemental data from your traditional paper and pencil test that we have all used for way too long. The Sunny has been sold around the world and it has conquered the hearts of thousands of speech paths around the world. It was way ahead of the curve and it still is the best articulation screener available on the iPad.
The reality was that many school districts and governmental agencies still rely and demand the use of standardized assessments. That’s when Smarty Ears partnered with a company in Texas to create and standardize an assessment tool that would be universally used for bilingual students as well as monolingual Spanish or English speakers. That’s how the Bilingual Articulation and Phonology Test was conceived. BAPA uses the technology behind Sunny to become a stand alone fully standardized articulation and phonology assessment tool. It was released in 2013 and it has quickly become the preferred choice among bilingual clinicians in the assessment of articulation and phonology skills.
In 2015, Smarty Ears listening to the feedback from clinicians, decided to create an English only version of BAPA, with a lower price point for clinicians that are only performing English assessments. Using the data collected for the creation of BAPA, Smarty Ears separated the English only portion of BAPA and created iTAP, the Test of Articulation and Phonology.
The bottom line: When it comes to Articulation screeners/ Articulation tests there are really only 3 apps worth your consideration: Sunny Articulation & Phonology Test, iTap, and BAPA. Which one you pick will depend solely on your needs as a clinician.
All three app are wonderfully designed to make your life as a Speech Therapist as easy as possible. They all feature:
a. Ability to enter student’s name and track progress over time;
b.Tests all phonemes of the English language including clusters;
c.Offers two options: Screening & Full Assessment
d.Ability to record student’s production with the same tool you are using to administer test;
e.E-mail test results immediately after administration;
f.Provides immediate positive feedback to students throughout the test administration;
g.Sample recording of target word is available as you touch each image;
h.Ability to add notes on the app during the assessment.
Which one to pick really depends on your needs.
Here are the real key differences that set them apart:
It is Standardized
It is Standardized
for English monolinguals, Spanish monolinguals, and English / Spanish Bilinguals
We’ve seen the question a million times on Facebook, twitter and other social media:
“What is the Best Articulation app?”
This well intentioned question often comes up from someone who is either just became a Speech Therapist or is a Newbie to the world of app on the iPad, or perhaps someone who is just overwhelmed by the amount of apps that are out there and available. Usually a host of passionate responses spark up. If we are being honest though, its really hard for most people to give a completely fair response.
Usually this is because:
People vouch for what they have, but it really isn’t fair to call it the “best” when they haven’t experienced most or all of the other Articulation apps. (Imagine If you called one grocery store the “best” because you liked it, but had never set foot in the other major chains nearby?)
People often base their experience off of free apps or apps that have a free version. Its understandable people go this route as it can make it easier to sample more things. But again using the grocery store anology is it fair to rule out a Costco and Sams club because of the “membership costs”. Yes, they have a cost but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have a value that may outweigh this factor.
As we were at Texas Speech and Hearing Convention this year we had several customers who had experienced all or most of the Top Tier apps out there and they resoundingly and unsolicitedly wanted to tell us “Articulate it! is the best.”
We wanted to share why…
Why is Articulate it the Best Articulation app?
It has the most content of any Articulation app out there (and you can even add more to it by adding “custom words”!). No articulation app has more words, sentences, phrases, and stories. With a built in “Matching game“, a “Guess What” game, a “Stories” section, in addition to the traditional route of working on phonemes and clusters, that If this app was in paper form you would probably need a large file cabinet just to store all the decks of cards. People who have this app tend to use it everyday; this wouldn’t be realistic if it didn’t have enough content to do this.
It is the most versatile and powerful articulation app.
It has phonological processes, mirroring capabilities, up to 6 players during the same game (each with their own objectives, the ability to add custom words, over a 100 fun avatars that could represent the player, , . When presenting this app to someone who has never seen it before it can be hard to remember to show them ALL of the features. A common chorus from the SLP is usually is a breathless sincere ,“You’ve really thought out everything on this app …haven’t you?” And they’re right, rarely does an app give a user such a COMPLETE EXPERIENCE.
It has homework— sooooo much homework. Every single phoneme at the word, phrase and sentence level (almost 200 worksheets). All of it can be emailed or printed to be sent home for your students to work on. “this app is worth it just for the homework,” says pretty much every SLP ever who has opened up the app and even glanced at the homework.
It has Themes- This allows you to change how the app looks and sounds to match a particular holiday or season. What a way to increase student engagement!!! Our users tell us all the time “this is the one app I use EVERY DAY.” With 13 themes to choose from, students love how it feels like something new every time the theme is changed.
It has Stories (& 7 questions about the story each of which target the phoneme)— Other apps that have “stories” tend to seem about as fun as the old “Dick and Jane” book series from the 1930-70’s. Articulate it has fun (and often funny) stories that not only target the objective, but make for an engaging experience for the learners. How cool is it that you can work on reading skills and Articulation at the same time? Seven different Wh questions (whose answers always target the selected phoneme) and you have a brand new way to target a wide host of speech goals from auditory bombardment, production, listening comprehension, and reading comprehension.
It has a built in “Guess What” game— Tired of practicing in the same “flashcard style?” Well, guess what?– we got something even better:How about a guessing game where your students work on articulation and language skills at the same time? This fun activity is just one more reason why Articulate it! is the best and more versatile app available on the app store.
It really is designed by an SLP. Our CEO Barbara Fernandes is an SLP, she is always involved in every aspect of the app creation, and she is often consulting from her large network of SLP friends and colleagues to make all of the apps the best they can possibly be for the SLP community. She’s super passionate about helping improve and innovate technology in every aspect of the speech therapist world and when she is working on area that requires very specific expertise, she makes sure there are even more SLPs involved directly in the project. We’ve been to every ASHA over the last 7 years and we know that even though a lot of companies claim to have an SLP involved it is sadly very often at just a very superficial level (particularly from big publishing companies), or we’ve even seen where it is pretty much an outright sham (often from computer programmers or tech experts hoping to make a quick buck). Smarty Ears has innovated the speech therapy world with its apps, but a big chunk of that comes down to really being involved in the speech therapy community.
Comprehensive Data tracking—- The app seemlessly lets you switch between word, sentence and phrase level while working on phonemes; likewise it is dividing the specifics of that data as you click the correct, almost or incorrect buttons so that you don’t have to be thinking out the specifics. It even stores the recordings and lets you review which words were targeted. With clear charts and percentages: data tracking has never been so easy. With the ability to email the results to parents and the ability to export into Therapy report center, Smarty Ears understands the data driven world of Schools and have given you the simplest tools to get it done.
Intuitive, User Friendly, and Tools of Support. We know one of the reasons you probably like using Apple products like the iPad is its user friendliness. We want you to feel that experience is the same with our apps. With a “instructional audio” , that can guide first time users as they learn the app, a built in video tutorial (that makes learning the features of the app quick and easy), and a simple way to reach out to us by emailing us from the app, we are dedicated to making Articulate it! the best possible user experience out there.
Because it is a Smarty Ears app:
Now this might seem humorously self-congratulatory at first glance … but there is a very serious reason why brand name matters in the business of apps. We were the first to make any app for Speech Therapy that was not an AAC app, and for those who have been using iPad apps since the beginning know Smarty Ears is the gold standard. Every app they make we have continually updated it to make sure that it will work with the newest iOS, and we are always looking back at how we can improve our existing library of apps . What was great in 2009 often doesn’t cut it by 2016 standards and we know it.
Other speech therapy app companies die off.. and they often let their app die with it. (No more updates to keep it compatible with the iOS). For us making an app doesn’t ever end. We constantly update our apps to make them the best out there. We’ve seen the sad looks on someone’s face when they thought they had our articulation app (but didn’t and had something that seemed good— so they assumed it was Smarty Ears— yes this really happen ALL the time). It’s because those who know Smarty Ears know the value they are getting and that they are always getting a cutting edge app, and we won’t let those fans down EVER.
We share a passion to help people communicate and participate in daily life activities. We do that by creating tools that will help million of children and adults with a communication disorder improve or enhance their speech, language or communication skills. April is autism awareness month, and we want to celebrate these special individuals by offering our traditional app sale this month. The sale starts on March 28th and Ends on April 8th 2016. See this post for direct links for the apps on sale.
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
1. WhQuestions 2.Dysphagia2Go
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