I pre-ordered my iPad today so am feeling excited, its getting closer to arriving and me been able to use Proloquo2go on it to create custom designed communication system.
I wanted to show that it could be done for under or around £500 even on the bigger iPad. Obviously it would be much cheaper on an iPod Touch but as a person with Ataxia who struggles with tiny buttons and small screened gadgets with wafer thin styluses to try and grip, I was looking for something a little bigger (although not as big and heavy as computer).
I watched Proloquo2go’s you tube clips on how it worked (demoed on iphone) and I could see the potential to create a customised system that would be so much cheaper than the major leading manufacturers charge for their products (£4,000 + for smaller screened products 5-10 “, £6,000 + usually for their average sized tablet PC’s).
Don’t get me wrong they have put some serious research into their products, and offer very high tech solutions such as Eye Gaze for people who are unable to use their arms at all. (usually range from £12,000 +)
My issue is, as an adult with an acquired disability that came on later in adulthood, it is much harder to get funding for these machines if you are no longer able to work and not in education. If you can still use a touchscreen device why have to wait for months to see if you can get funding for a touchscreen device to communicate your basic needs and general conversation to family members etc when you can get a device for under £500 which is a much easier amount to get funding for either family members to raise or bank loan or credit card.
The Apple iPad provides a solution to this. For £429 you can now get the 16GB wi-fi model of iPad. For £1.19 you can get ‘speak-it’ app from iTunes store which is a basic qwerty keyboard, you type and it speaks, the iPad version also allows you to store and view your stored sentences altogether on screen (landscape mode)
For me personally I like the idea of been able to create my own system but I don’t have the technical knowledge to program a computer from scratch, I have an idea what I’m looking for but I need the basic building blocks to help me get started.
Proloquo2go offers that to me. It offers a basic communication program you can choose to have it all with symbols or all without, as you can also edit each button individually you can make a ‘mixed page’, as no-one else has attempted this yet I can’t show you yet until I try it out on my own.
Most of the PR shots include symbols the makers of the progam did email me some shots with the symbols removed.
Also bear in mind that the iPad, unlike traditional touchscreen tablet has a scrolling screen, so instead of having to go through several pages to find a word, you just scroll up and you potentially have another 64 words below.. and another below that! This is ideal if you need bigger ‘buttons’ on each page so you cant fit as many within the viewable screen area.
If you decided you wanted most of your grids to be words only but occasionally a symbol on some say to represent a longer sentence, you can just remove all symbols and edit the individual buttons of the few that you wish to have a picture on.
You may wish to keep the symbols on category buttons and the ones like food etc where you get little pics of branded products which are cool like coca cola, but may wish to remove the symbols for abstract words such as ‘and, as, but, because’ etc which are classed as non-picture generating words as opposed to words like ‘house, car, buildings, transport, pets’ etc where the symbols would be fairly obvious.
You can also removed the coloured outline of boxes and have all buttons simply outlined in black, or you can keep the colours to match the grammer rules, pink=verbs etc.
One of my favourite features is the auto-conjugation of verbs which seems a really big posh word but basically all it means is say you are looking for word dogs’ to say ‘my dogs’ favourite toy is’.. go to pets category press and hold ‘dog’ and up pops ‘dog, dog’s, dogs’ etc. if you press and hold a verb for example:
when you press and hold ‘are’ as shown in screenshot above you get the past, present, future variations of the word such as ‘am, is, was, will be’ etc on other words you get different word endings so pressing and holding ‘play’ will bring up ‘played, playing, will play’ etc
You can just have symbols in the ‘grid’ and not in the text box if you wished to use symbols to represent categories but once you opened the category just have words as shown in previous screenshot.
With Proloquo2go you can really make it your own, you can remove categories completely if you wished or just edit them to make use of the buttons where one page already leads to another. Say for example you didn’t need the school category you could turn it into ‘work’ or ‘shopping’ or if you have children/grand-children you can adapt the category to ask them about their school day (assuming its an adult that’s lost speech rather than the child).
Even though this app is around £110 and is one of the more expensive apps, it is a complete AAC solution and in comparison with the cost of most AAC devices (even if you got an higher priced model of iPad) you are still literally saving thousands in price difference. If budgets are tight for just over £500 (around £539) you can get 16GB wi-fi model AND Proloquo2go and have your communication aid.
I am also planning to use mine as a jumbo touchscreen IR remote using the Mini Red eye dongle and app.
Watch this space 😀