Choosing an AAC app: it’s not even about the app!

Jun 20, 2013

One of the most insightful things I ever heard anyone say about AAC was the magnificent Ian Bean’s talk in 2012. His talk was called “The Killer App” — and his point was that the most important thing, which decides whether AAC works or doesn’t work, is not the app – it’s the way it is used; it’s not the technology, it’s the parent or therapist; it’s not the features, of the app, it’s the strategy of the caregiver.

People often ask me what’s the best way to choose an iPad AAC app, and (when I take off my Avaz evangelist hat) I tell them, choose the app that you think that you, as a caregiver, would feel most empowered with. When you see an app, do you feel intimidated by it? Or do you get that tingly feeling of possibility, as ideas crowd around in your head about how you can use this shiny new tool in your arsenal to build communication skills in new, fun ways? Always choose an app in the second category. It doesn’t matter what the price is, or how famous it is, or how pretty the graphics are – what matters is how easy it is to incorporate in your strategy, and how comfortable you feel with it.

Therapists and special educators are working in what amounts, pretty much, to heroic conditions today. Case loads are increasing, and therapists are bringing work back home nearly every night and weekend. And if an app can be easily taught to, and learnt by, a parent, that makes a world of difference in AAC intervention. Even simple things – like having an app that’s faster to customize, or less confusing, or easier to work with – can make a big change.

Give us a shout out to let us know what you think!