This article is part 4 in our 7-part series on Getting Started with Apps in Speech Therapy, focusing on how to find good apps. Part 1 focuses on why SLPs should use apps, part 2 explores the benefits of apps for home users, and part 3 looks at technical basics of iPads and apps to get you started.
Good speech therapy apps come into our lives in a number of different ways. Sometimes we hear about an app and know we have to have it. Other times, we go in search of the perfect app to achieve the goal we have in mind. There are also times when we discover an app if we give ourselves the time to explore. Let’s look at what these three methods of discovery look like and how you can evaluate an app once you’ve found it.
“You’ve got to try this app!”
Has this happened to you? Someone in a similar situation to you – a colleague, stroke survivor, or friend – starts telling you about this great new app they downloaded. They show you how it works and why it’s so great. They let you try it, and you love it. You write down the name or go straight to the App Store and download it. Easy. Done. If only all apps came into our lives this way!
Word of mouth is powerful, so if you love something – tell people! We recently heard from someone who found out about our apps from a stranger during a brief conversation in the grocery store check-out line. Leave App Store reviews for your favorite apps to help spread the word.
“I need an app that does X”
Often times, you want an app for a specific client, goal, or task. This is a bit trickier; now you’re on the hunt for the right app in a seemingly endless sea of options. A good place to start is the App Store itself, similar to heading to the mall when you need a new shirt. Start by searching for what you think you need, like “aphasia” or “articulation.” Look through the descriptions, screenshots, and customer reviews.
Pro Tip: When looking at reviews, click on All Versions to see reviews of past versions of the app. If there are no reviews in your country, try changing your App Store to the USA store for a greater user base of reviews. This can be done on the desktop version of iTunes by clicking the flag icon.
There are also some great app listing sites that allow you to search by your specific needs. The Aphasia Software Finder from the Tavistock Trust for Aphasia in the UK offers an app finder, app list, and comparison table so you can see what’s available in aphasia therapy apps.
YappGuru is a database of speech therapy apps with reviews by a team of app experts and ratings by registered users. You can easily sort by goal or age level to see recommendations for the need you have.
The most comprehensive list of the best adult speech therapy apps on the web is right here on the Tactus Therapy site. Download our list of over 200 recommended apps for speech therapy, as well as our list of 50 apps for brain injury survivors, both available on our Free Downloads page.
If you still can’t find what you’re looking for, head to social media. Join some groups on Facebook and do a search of past discussions. If you can’t find someone with the same question, ask a new one about your specific needs. Some of the best groups for adult-focused SLPs wanting to know about apps are SLPs Talk Apps, Adult Rehab Speech Therapy, Medical SLP Forum, Dysphagia Therapy Group – Professional Edition, and Geriatric OT, PT, and SLP Collaborative Group. Stroke survivors and their families can join the Aphasia Recovery Connection group for advice from other people dealing with aphasia.
“I want some new apps”
If you’re looking to add to your collection of apps without a specific purpose or title in mind, you can go browsing to find good apps.
Again, starting with the App Store, find an app you know you like. Look for the “Customers Also Bought” listings to find related apps by other developers and check those out. To find other apps made by a developer you know you like, click on the app developer’s name to see all their titles. You can also browse the charts of Top Paid, Top Free, and Top Grossing apps in the Medical, Education, or Games categories to see what other people are using.
Pro Tip: Be sure to delete any apps you’ve downloaded that don’t pass muster so they won’t clutter your device. They will always be associated with your Apple ID, so you can download them again in the future.
Pinterest is a great way to find new apps, with many boards devoted to speech therapy. You can also search the app review sites and lists mentioned above for fresh ideas. The Tactus Therapy Resources page has links to reviews of many great apps.
Evaluating Speech Therapy Apps
Once you think you’ve found a good app, you’ll need to evaluate whether it’s truly right for your needs.
ASHA provides two helpful lists of questions, one for SLPs and one for consumers (families and clients), to use when evaluating a new product or treatment. We’ve created a similar list of questions to consider, focused specifically on evaluating apps for adult speech therapy. It is free for you to download, use, and share.
We prefer a list of questions to guide your evaluation rather than a rating system. While there are many app evaluation rubrics available, rating features on a 5-point scale, we have found that this rigid system puts most apps in the middle range, since few apps are designed to do everything on the list.
An app like Bla | Bla | Bla gives whimsical visual feedback for volume and can be quite effective, but it can’t be personalized, doesn’t collect data, nor does it store user profiles. It won’t score well on a strict rating scale, but is it a bad app? Not at all! Considering the app’s features compared to your needs is a more useful way to evaluate it.
You can answer many important questions by doing some online research. If it’s a free app or has a free trial, just download and start using it to see if you like it. If it’s a paid app that you’re not ready to purchase, use the App Store information along with the developer’s website to look for answers. Search the web for blog reviews and videos. Ask questions on social media or contact the developer directly to see if the app does what you want.
Using smart search techniques, relying on trusted sites, and having a good social network will ensure you’re always using the best speech therapy apps for adults.
How do you find good apps for speech therapy? What criteria do you use for evaluating them?
We’ll be back in a few weeks with Part 5 of Getting Started with Apps in Speech Therapy. In the meantime, we’ll bring you some exciting news about our apps and celebrate Better Hearing and Speech Month.
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