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InnerVoice: Communication

Price: iPhone/iPad - Paid

Teacher Overview

As a teacher of children on the Autism Spectrum with complex communication needs, I am constantly looking for the most appropriate form of Augmentative & Alternative Communication (AAC) to use with the children at our school.

Teacher Review

As a teacher of children on the Autism Spectrum with complex communication needs, I am constantly looking for the most appropriate form of Augmentative & Alternative Communication (AAC) to use with the children at our school. As a school we follow the ‘Total Communication’ approach which gives us the expose many different forms of AAC and therefore many apps. Over the past number of years we have had a great deal of success with one particular application, with many others not meeting the mark in terms of ticking all the boxes, that is until now. I must admit I had not heard of Inner Voice until I was asked to review the app and use it with some of our children. InnerVoice Communication is a fantastic AAC application that is easy to use, containing features I have not seen in other apps on the market.  
 
The particular feature I have been really impressed with is the Avatar, an excellent feature that I have not seen in other apps or VOCAs. The app contains a library of faces that can speak the message, wants or needs through video. The videos can be shared through social media or as a message. You can even use the child’s photo as an avatar, brilliant! Whilst using Inner voice at school, we sent a message to a parent from her son who is minimally verbal, she was so happy and rang the school immediately to say how it brightened her day and would be getting the app straight away. 
 
Upon opening the app for the first time, the developers have provided a useful, easy to follow tutorial to get you up and running straight away. Firstly, you can choose an avatar or use a photo of your child, which becomes the part of the main screen above the vocabulary/symbol grids. You are also prompted to choose the voice you would like the avatar to use. The options are quite limited here, offering adult or child and the rate at which you wish to use. I say limiting as other leading apps in the AAC market contain a greater number of voice options such as different country accents and variation on dialects through the use of more advanced speech synthesis. However, this does not detract from the overall experience, but perhaps something that could be considered in future updates. 
 
You have three vocabulary options; Basic, every[CW1] day and your words. Clearly Inner voice has been designed with having Core vocabulary front and centre, these are the words that account for over 85% of all everyday language. Research tells us that consistent exposure and modelling of these words are vital in language development for AAC users. It would be beneficial if the core words were accompanied by specific symbols coming from a particular symbol system such as symbolstix or widget. These symbols would support learners with underdeveloped literacy skills. The option to add buttons and folders are contained within the settings section offering you the opportunity to grow the vocabulary bank when the user is moving from basic wants and needs to more social language. You can also add Gifs to buttons, a really fun idea! 
 
Quick communication is definitely at the heart of Inner Voice Communication, which is the most important consideration when buying an AAC app. The Avatar or photo option is what really motivated our young learners when using the app. It certainly is a motivating feature when using the app for the first time and supports early research into autism, facial recognition and avatars. Being able to change emotions from happy to sad/angry on the avatar or image is excellent and a useful tool for teaching emotions. As I have said earlier, the video messaging feature is a wonderful feature. Being able to access social media and post videos closes the inclusion gap and further brings the field of augmented communication into the mainstream. 
 
Backup and restore features are available within the settings, with a useful delay feature on the settings button slowing down an exit from the main screen. Guided access within iOS also can help you with locking into the main screen. 
 
Overall, InnerVoice Communication is an excellent AAC app. It is now a firm favourite with our young communicators, their families and our speech and language therapists. It is not as complex when compared with other AAC options during initial set-up and the use of multi-sensory strategies in combining visual and auditory stimulation is wonderful. InnerVoice is a well thought out and informed design application and should always be considered when trialling AAC with people with communication difficulties. A big thumbs up to developers, well done! 

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Developer Description

InnerVoice is a universally designed, easy-to-use, and engaging communication tool that teaches speech, language, and social communication skills.

Designed by speech-language pathologists, certified autism specialists, assistive technology specialists, and educators, InnerVoice is perfect for non-verbal learners, parents, teachers, therapists -- or people with no disabilities: InnerVoice makes communication available to anyone.

InnerVoice can work like a typical AAC device: letting your thoughts and feelings be heard and understood by others. Unlike traditional AAC apps, though, InnerVoice combines facial expressions, emotions, written words, and actions with speech, providing a complete multi-sensory learning experience. You can even share your words with others by making videos of the avatars speaking your message: post your thoughts to social media, send a text message -- it's up to you!

Choose an avatar from a library of faces, use a photo of your student, or one of their favorite characters, and watch them come alive in the app! Avatars move, emote and, most importantly, speak! Watching a face that the learner connects with helps increase imitation and engagement, and it's a lot of fun, too.

InnerVoice has full, native support for both English and Spanish.

App Features:

SPEAK - tap the mouth or the speech bubble and hear the avatar say your words aloud

SHARE - your avatar will deliver any message to friends, family or social media

ACTION - add actions to any button to represent verbs, emotions, and concepts by using GIFs and videos (GIFs powered by GIPHY)

GIPHY - increase your ability to express yourself by adding a GIF to any button. Powered by giphy.com

SEE YOURSELF - take a photo of yourself, a toy, a drawing, and watch it come to life

EMOTE - make facial expressions on your avatar's face: happiness, sadness, or anger

CUSTOMIZE - create new buttons and edit layouts with ease, using SmartySymbols, photos, videos, or GIFs: the simple button-editing system can add a pre-recorded or text-to-speech label to your buttons.

SAVE YOUR WORK - ensure that all customizations are safe from accidental deletions or crashes.

WATCH - the avatar's words scroll across the screen in sync with its speech, allowing you to see the connection between written and spoken language.

Enhance with other apps:

With the MyScript Stylus keyboard, handwrite your message, and watch your writing appear as text.

Use a translator app and your avatar will speak your chosen language or translate your words into your chosen language.

A NewSchools Venture-funded, National Science Foundation SBIR-funded, Autism Speaks-funded and Mensa award-winning app, InnerVoice unlocks your ability to communicate through its unique, entertaining, and engaging combination of iTherapy, LLC research and design; NeoSpeech text-to-speech software; and MotionPortrait, Inc facial recognition and animation software.

InnerVoice is designed by iTherapy, LLC, a company of speech-language pathologists, certified autism specialists, and educators who work with people with autism, dyslexia, and other communication disorders.

InnerVoice teaches communication using a unique patent-pending process called Multi-Sensory Semiotics: which pairs sensory stimuli -- anything from movements, touch, or sound -- with auditory symbols (words), visual symbols (text), or gestural symbols (sign language).

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