aacorn – A New App in AAC

Introducing….. aacorn!

An interesting and powerful new app, with a whole new way to support a child with little/no/developing speech.

The best thing about the app is that it:

“LEARNS to predict

what YOUR child

wants to say.”

It moves away from the traditional grid formatted AAC system and gives us “word trees” – beautiful circles of words and stems, that all interconnect as sentences are constructed! It reminds me of all those mind maps/word webs we used to draw when were planning our writing at school!

aacorn1

Top features:

  • The powerful word prediction system built within aacorn, is such a great way to help children learn to put sentences together to communicate faster and more effectively.
  • This word prediction is used to help guess what word the child wants to say next. Logical options are presented to help complete the sentence. It is also super easy to add words to sentences when nothing has been predicted.
  • acorn then remembers these words that have been added to a sentence, so that they are presented automatically next time.
  • Only presents 5 main choices off each category at a time, keeping it simple and distraction free.  By simply pushing the category button, it takes you through other word choices in that category.
  • aacorn uses real recorded voices, not a text-to-speech voice. You can choose between boy and girl US, UK, and Australian voices. Whilst this means that the voices are very natural sounding, it does mean that you need to record your own voice when you add new vocabulary items.
  • Highly customisable, with the ability to add, edit and change words easily.

Here’s a quick video demonstration of aacorn.

Here are some important links for you to check out:

The App developers website: http://aacornapp.com

aacorn’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/aacornapp or Twitter page: https://twitter.com/aacorn

 

This innovative app could really change the way we introduce, teach and model AAC systems to early communicators.

 

If you have tried aacorn, we would love to hear from you! Leave us a comment! Tell us what you think!

 

Amanda

 

 

 

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About Amanda Hartmann

Amanda is a Speech Pathologist with over 17 years experience. She has worked within educational settings, as an Inclusive Technology Consultant with Spectronics www.spectronics.com.au , and currently focuses her time on her busy private practice.

Amanda is a Key Word Sign/Makaton Presenter, an official Proloquo2Go trainer www.assistiveware.com/amanda-hartmann and an official expert TBoxApps Trainer for Therapy Box. She is also a certified Apple Trainer and regularly runs iPad workshops to help schools integrate iPad technology into the classroom, for all learners.

Amanda has a special interest in supporting and developing communication, literacy and learning for a wide range of diverse learners, often through the use of visual tools, sign language and technology. She has spent many years providing therapy support and teacher/parent training in Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) for students with complex communication needs, due to disabilities such as: Cerebral palsy and other Physical impairments, Visual impairment, Hearing impairment, Autism, Down Syndrome, Fragile X, Intellectual Impairment, Angelman Syndrome, Rett Syndrome and others. She also has specialist knowledge to support the literacy learning of students with learning difficulties, language impairments and other diverse learning needs. She is passionate about providing interactive and engaging presentations to educators, parents and therapists.

10 Responses to aacorn – A New App in AAC

  1. Joanne Helms, SLPS says:

    Hello, I work in the speech department in a WA state school district, and have been in contact with Wayne at aacorn. I am also our iPad coordinator in district and am excited about this app for many of our students. Great job and thank you!

  2. mary pitt says:

    Hi Amanda
    Thanks for cool demo, looks like a useful , innovative app.Just a question. For those students not yet up to “correct” sentence structure (and miss out little words like “is, the etc) and may communicate “I hungry” is there an edit mode for this? (e.g. would you “prune” ? , or rely on the word prediction from a previous example)? I also realiase this may also just be the issue of, not suitable for this particular student. What are your thoughts?
    Cheers M
    PS. Congrats to developers for thinking outside the square

  3. aacorn says:

    Hi Mary,

    Thank you for your kind words. In answer to your question we designed aacorn to be appropriate for children with a wide range of abilities and so it doesn’t require or expect a child to make sentences in any particular fashion. Amanda and other SLP’s can probably speak to this better than I can but our belief is there really is no one size fits all approach to language, and so aacorn is flexible enough that you can build sentences in the style or manner that best suits an individual child. You don’t need to turn off or disable words – they’ll only appear if you model them, or the child uses in regular use of the app. So in your example absolutely you can model ‘I hungry’ for one child and ‘excuse me can I have a snack please’ for another. Perhaps most surprisingly though BOTH will be equally easy for the child to say :)

    ‘Pruning’ is just a quick edit feature to hide an unwanted word where you’re trying to encourage a particular behavior or if say for example a child likes to obsess on a word a bit too much.

    This may sound more complicated than it is, and of course how/when you use and the involvement of a speech and language professional is the key to success, but the beauty of the word tree and aacorn’s open ended approach is by making it much faster and easier to find words and build sentences it provides a framework to develop grammatical or more complex language, rather than time spent searching for individual words. Grids and folders are fine provided you know which word you want and where to look for all of them – but for far too many children (and many of us adults ;) that is a very big ask.

    I hope this answers your question)
    Thanks again and all the best.

    Wayne Whatford
    Founder & CEO
    aacorn

  4. Sarah says:

    Hi Amanda,
    Thanks for the article. This new app seems like a great addition to the AAC arsenal. Just wondering if you had any comparisons with proloquo2go? Is one ‘easier’ or more suitable for children? Particularly those who have no literacy skills yet?
    Thanks

    • Charlene Cullen says:

      Hi Sarah,
      Thanks for your question.
      As Amanda is on the road doing training workshops I am answering on her behalf. I would say that they are both apps that could be used with children with no literacy skills. Proloquo2Go comes with a Basic vocabulary useful for children learning early word combinations and then you can switch to a Core Word vocabulary which allows for greater word combinations. Proloquo2Go has more features for customising (particularly for alternative access, pronunciations, expressions, grid size) and can certainly grow with the child with options for synthesised voices and text to speech down the track. However, some people prefer Aacorn for it’s simple interface. The biggest difference with Aacorn is the word tree for building sentences – and it learns what you say and predicts the words based on this. Both could be used well with young children. The power in any AAC app will come with modelling and learning language in fun, motivating and functional contexts. It is hard to trial these apps without purchase but you can view videos of them on the Assistiveware website and Aacorn website.
      Cheers,
      Charlene Cullen
      inclusive Technology Consultant – Speech Pathologist

  5. Sarah says:

    Thanks so much for your reply Charlene. Very helpful.

    Kind regards.

  6. Eva says:

    Are there any plans to make a lite version of this App available ?

    • Charlene Cullen says:

      Hi Eva,
      The free version is currently waiting apple approval. You can certainly contact the developer devteam@aacorn.co if you have further questions about when this might be available.
      Regards,
      Charlene

  7. Christine says:

    It is always exciting to see a new AAC tool. The AACORN website page states that the app is good for all children and abilities and lists cerebral palsy as one of the diagnoses as a target audience. I don’t see whether it is switch accessible or if it would work well with a switch. I’ve looked at both the website and the Facebook page. I understand that the app is just getting started, but wanted to check as we are in the market for a new device. Thanks.

    • Charlene Cullen says:

      This app is not switch accessible but you could contact the developer to see if there are any plans to include this in an update.

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