This giveaway has ended and the winners, Mary and Mindy have been announced and notified.
Functional Communication System for iPad is my first experience with an AAC app, and I must say I’m impressed. This is a high-tech, digital version of PECs except that these virtual cards can be images or video clips and they include sound. Instead of lining up cards to communicate and hearing each word as it is selected, the user lines up the on-screen cards and then presses a button to hear the words said together as a sentence. All that plus the fact these don’t require any laminating, you can kiss your Velcro goodbye, and unless you lose your iPad, all your images remain at your fingertip. Then again, if you lose your iPad, I’m sure the loss of your picture cards will be the least of your worries . . . or not. 🙂
– Choose between your voice or one of three alternative voices using text to voice programming. The alternative voices in text to voice are currently $1.99 each.
– Unlimited customizable levels of catgories and subcategories.
– Unlimited use of your own pictures or images from your iPad photo albums.
– App comes with 500 core pictures, each including a video, a picture card, and prerecorded audio file.
– Ability to record video clips while in the app using your iPad – no uploading necessary.
– Built in security settings to prevent unintended changes.
– Fully customizable – use their structure or create your own.
– Color-coding capability for categories and subcategories and their cards
– Inexpensive additional picture libraries for in-app purchases.
– Free video tutorials on U-Tube
There are a few other AAC apps out there, so you may be wondering, what sets Funcctional Communication System apart from the competition. One word, guys, one word . . .
The video feature is a perfect format for social stories, routines that require multiple steps, instructional recipes, explanations for each word or category, etc. The videos that come with the application use word choices and actions that adequately express the word or concept in the picture. The pictures and videos use young adults, making this app appropriate for young adults and then some who might otherwise object to using an app designed for children. For the user who would like more elementary pictures and videos, you can substitute everything from voice to video to pictures for what has already been provided. In addition, you have the capability to create all of your own voice, video and pictures from scratch.
Another big plus for this app is the ease of use. The developers placed a high priority on ease of use, and they have succeeded in making an app even the newest iPad user can put into use immediately after purchase. If you’re like me and like a walk-through, video tutorials are available for many of the features.
The photographs that come with the app are high-quality and depict the word on the card in context. For example, the word napkin is depicted bya woman holding a napkin to her face. It is obvious the developers put some real thought and research into their images, because people with language and speech disorders, especially Down syndrome and autism, often need context clues to understand the meaning of a word. They can learn a picture of a napkin is a napkin, but if you were to ask them what you use it for, they would have no idea.
To use this app, you select the pictures that you want to use via the menu that takes you to picture coded categories and subcategories. If you want to see and hear the video, you tap and press the picture. If you want to use the picture in a sentence, you tap it once, and it moves the picture to a sentence strip at the top of the page. You add to the sentence strip (which incidentally has an easy-to-use backspace for mistakes), until your sentence or thought is complete, and then you press the play button, and the audio for each card is played in order. This feature is most beneficial for older users, as I think the younger users might benefit from hearing each word as it is added to the strip. A toggle switch between the two options would be useful.
App: Functional Communication System for iPad
Price: Regular $49.95, as of this post on sale for $9.99.
Words of His Heart Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
High marks for ease of use, quality of pictures, functionality. High marks for the video feature which sets it apart from the competitors. The diversity is excellent considering the 500 picture cards and video clips that come with the purchase price. I would like to see a picture symbol option instead of just photographs. For our younger users, the picture symbols would be more similar to PECs used in programs like Boardmaker and therefore would make for an easier transition. Value wise, for the sale price of $9.99, this app cannot be beat, especially considering each card comes with a video clip. For the full price of $49.95, I would like to see more of the picture cards included in the purchase price, although many of Functional Communication System competitors’ products sell for well over $100.
Conover offers a lite version of FCS at no cost here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/functional-communication-system/id496585489?mt=8.
And now for the fun part. Functional Communication System, in exchange for my honest reveiw of their product, has given me three redemption codes for the full version of their product. One is mine and two are yours. To win this app, leave a comment below and on Wednesday, October 17th, I will draw the names of two lucky winners and contact them by the email linked to their comment. So if you enter and that email address is no longer current, be sure to drop me an email over at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t need an AAC app? No worries. Send a link to this blog to your favorite speech therapist, special ed teacher or parent of a child with special needs and give them a chance to win. The redemption code is fully transferrable, so you can win it and gift it if you desire.