STAFF PICKS: Daryn Ofczarzak on Augmentative and Alternative Communication


October is AAC Awareness Month—AAC standing for “Augmentative and Alternative Communication” or, in lay language, apps and tech devices for people with speaking and/or writing disabilities. Daryn Ofczarzak, Speech Language Pathologist at BridgingApps, shares her five favorite AAC apps below.

  1. SoundingBoard is great for nonverbal communicators who need simple visuals to indicate what they want to say, and especially useful for those prone to become overwhelmed by too many choices. Communicators, caregivers, or teachers can program the app with their own pictures or access images through the AbleNet library. Free to download and use, SoundingBoard comes preloaded with 14 e-boards each of which can hold 9 pictures.  
  2. TD Snap is highly customizable and includes bilingual capacities (users can switch between English and Spanish with the touch of a button). Operable by eye gaze, recommended for disabilities from aphasia to Rett syndrome, this app is a favorite option for families seeking to improve communication with loved ones of various ages and abilities.
  3. TouchChat HD – AAC with WordPower includes levels of different vocabularies that keep pace as a user grows and develops new skills. Navigation and organization are exceptionally intuitive, helping users of all ages and abilities use this app independently. There are other TouchChat apps, but this version has access to all available vocabulary levels.
  4. Flip Writer AAC Pocket stands out for its simplicity and its accessibility to a wide range of users. Keyboard-compatible, it allows users to either type messages or speak them out loud. Listeners/communication partners love Flip Writer for its two-sided display, which eliminates the common speech-device problem of forcing one person to read upside down or over the other’s shoulder. Great also for communicating with people who are hard of hearing.
  5. CoughDrop is a cloud-based service compatible with most computers and portable devices (and doubly useful to anyone separated from their regular device, since it’s not dependent on a single app location). Use a template, download pages created by community members, and/or make your own; CoughDrop even includes translation capacities for creating boards in multiple languages. Designed for nonverbal users, including those with mobility impairments, it’s helpful in a variety of situations: learning communications in childhood, relearning communications after a stroke or brain injury, creating visual supports for classrooms or therapy.

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