As most of my readers are aware, I am not bombarded by app developers vying to have their product mentioned on my site. If I do share an app or product it is because a colleague or reader has suggested it to me or I won a competition. I am so thankful I won a competition for SpeechBox because this app is changing therapy for me, just like iBooks and Notability did. Now you can go to the SpeechBox site and read other reviews including a photo-by-photo analysis of what it looks like…. but I think that all of the reviews are missing a bigger picture – so I have to share.
First off, I think ‘SpeechBox’ is a narrow title for this app as it does so much more than target speech. It should be called the ‘CommunicationBox’ or something a little more broader. In a nutshell, this app has ‘boxes’ for speech sounds in initial, medial and final position that contain colorful photographs. The person can hear the word and then use their finger to swipe the picture away, which the kids love. In concept it is similar to other paid articulation apps…. but SpeechBox has a huge advantage: You can edit, add, delete photographs and customize it to your heart’s content.
Every SLP likes or dislikes some target words – some of the articulation apps that I have purchased (and cost more than SpeechBox) I rarely use now as the number of images are limited, I don’t like the pictures, the words may be low-frequency or just too complex. So for an app to let ME decide what and how many targets I want and choose my own pictures trumps everything else out there on the market. This is especially great for international SLPs. As an Australian, most apps are developed in America… which means American pronunciation and vocabulary. This is all fine while I am working here (it actually helps expand my vocabulary), but in a few months when I show my Aussie students a picture of a ‘faucet’ they will look at me and say ‘That’s a tap. And what IS a faucet!?’
Now onto my ‘CommunicationBox’ idea. This app allows you to create your own boxes, so we have now moved from articulation to grammar, social skills, semantics… whatever you want. I currently have boxes for irregular verbs, prepositions, cause and effect, ‘wh’ questions and identifying emotions just to name a few. The other feature that I like is that you can record up to 10 seconds of audio to play once a photo is selected. This can make your app really unique and entertaining… YOU create the type of app that you want. For example, with my prepositions box I didn’t record ‘under’ to go with the image, but ‘Where is the dog?’ So that the child has to identify and name ‘Under the table’. Google images has so many photographs out there (and there are soooo many images of cute baby animals to teach prepositions) that I think we can all agree that they engage students more than the good old black and white line drawings!
The potential for SpeechBox is mind-boggling for an SLP who likes to create resources – just step out of the ‘articulation’ mindset and see it as an app that can help support anyone with a communication disorder in whatever way you envision it.