Oct 13, 2014

Why It's Important to Allow Apps on AAC Devices

This is a follow-up to my post My Favorite Month which talks about some of the work I've been doing to Ainsley's AAC device. First I just want to say how excited I am to show you Ainsley's new voice! (In the video below.) It's the new American English child voice Ella, from Acapela. When I called the communication company who sold us the AAC device they said it would cost $199 because we didn't buy the Acapela synthesizer with the device (if we had it would have been only $99). Then I found on my own that you can actually download the Acapela TTS App from the GooglePlayStore for free and then purchase just the voice you want, then use that as your default Android voice for text to speech. The grand total was less than $14.  I'm sharing it here for all who are interested. This was a great find because the Ivona child voice, Ivy was mispronouncing some common words so this solves that issue at the same time. Besides, I just like this new voice and think it sounds more natural and child like. Ainsley seems to like it too!

In addition I wanted to show a couple of the apps that we added to her AAC device so that people can see how these apps actually relate to language development or the refinement of skills required to effectively use an AAC device, like developing a more precise point for using vocabularies with more and smaller buttons.  Insurance companies are trying to prevent patients from being able to pay to "unlock" a dedicated communication device so that it can also be used for apps and other functions. It's really a shame on them because it doesn't hurt the insurance company any. It's not as if they are buying these devices for people who don't need them. As you can see Ainsley is loving the changes to her AAC device and the apps are educational.  For many people with disabilities having a second device to text, e-mail or make phone calls (or play apps) is not realistic due to the nature of their physical disability. Few people need an AAC device but are able bodied enough to carry around multiple pieces of equipment everywhere they go.  Thankfully we purchased our device prior to these changes. I'm so glad that we paid the $100 to "unlock" it for Ainsley's birthday last year and I'm glad that we finally were able to get some good educational apps on it for her after fighting advocating to get the OS upgrade. I can't wait to see how her skills improve and whether she will be more inclined to carry the AAC device with her around the house now.

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