iPad Apps for Complex Communication Support Needs: Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)

Author: Call Scotland

This 'wheel' of AAC Apps by Sally Millar and Gillian McNeill of CALL Scotland, provides a categorised guide to iPad Apps for people with complex communication support needs, who may need to use some form(s) of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC).

There are many hundreds of communication apps and deciding how to categorise them - never mind identifying the best fit to meet the needs of an individual user - is complicated. We define some Apps (from 12 o'clock round to 6) as potential full 'expressive' communication systems. Whether text and/or symbol based, these tend to be highly featured, and as a defining feature, include text to speech, a built-in symbol library, at least one or two sample pre-stored user vocabulary sets, and an onscreen message bar to allow for sentence/message building.

Other Apps (from 6 o'clock round to 9) are classed as more 'simple' forms of communication. These may provide basic, functional ways of expressing needs and making choices, or for recording news or stories. They contain limited, if any, starter content and will be customised for the user from 'bottom-up' using familiar photos and pictures, and recorded messages. Others may use the iPad to mirror and add speech output to particular low tech communication approaches such as PECS. Finally, many are useful for building basic vocabulary and language skills, receptively as much as expressively.

Users may use a 'set' of various Apps from different categories at different times - there is no single 'best' App.

Most Apps are controlled by direct touch, and many (but not all), will run under switch control within iOS 7 (onwards) Accessibility settings. A few were specifically designed for switch access and these are marked in this wheel with small red 's' (beside App icon).

The CALL Scotland AAC Apps wheel does not include every App available in each category. It shows Apps that CALL finds useful: reliable, relatively straightforward to use; reasonable/good value for money; and / or that stand out in their category for some reason.

The AAC Apps wheel was originally published as an A3 poster, but works equally well (only smaller!) as an A4 leaflet. The App names on the electronic version are 'clickable' links, taking you directly to more information about the individual App on the UK iTunes site.

iPad Apps for Complex Communication Support Needs was last updated in June 2015

Revision changes

June 2016

Apps removed - AAC Ferret, EasySpeak HD, Autismate 365, Answers Yes/No, AAC 123

Apps added - Tools 2 Talk+, Totaltalk AAC, CoughDrop, AAC Speak, Snap Scene, iSpeak Button Series, Board Communicator, Early Language Screening Tool Bundle

January 2016

Tools 2 Talk is no longer available to purchase and has been removed from the wheel. We have added an 's' to Pictello, as switches can be configured for playing a story.

May 2015

There has been no change to the App categories, only to the Apps listed. The number of Apps has increased to 77, which includes Tool 2 Talk, a resource for creating and printing symbolised communication resources, detailed separately given the App type.


Uploaded by Elizabeth Dodd
Uploaded on 2016-08-24 01:56:36

· Communication
· Mobile Technologies
· Smart AT General

· Assistive Technology
· Disability