Speak for Yourself AAC Language App FAQs

This looks a little overwhelming.  Now what do I do?

Evie (2 1/2 years old) using Speak for Yourself.

Speak for Yourself contains a comprehensive vocabulary designed to grow as a child develops language or allow nonverbal adults to communicate with the same rich language they used prior to becoming nonverbal.  Start by teaching the vocabulary that is most motivating for a child.  Use the open and close feature to minimize the visual distraction, and build vocabulary around the individual’s interests and passions.  If someone is nonverbal and is not able to express knowledge, wants and needs, cognition is frequently questioned.  Assume that the individual is intelligent and wants to communicate, and he/she will prove you right! This AAC Implementation: Where Do I Start? blog post may help. There are also video tutorials and a link for a free 1 hour webinar on the Tutorials and Support Page.

I just closed/hid a bunch of words and they’re still showing up. What happened?

You may have the Babble feature turned on. Babble allows users to toggle between having all of the vocabulary open and having the customized vocabulary configuration open. This feature allows for exploration but also enables a quick return to a less visually distracting screen. Touch Babble and see if that “fixes” it.

What makes Speak for Yourself different from any other AAC apps/devices on the market?

Speak for Yourself was created by two speech-language pathologists who previously did AAC evaluations and then worked with teams and students to integrate and teach the language system and AAC implementation strategies. The Speak for Yourself app has features that account for issues that can be barriers to successful AAC implementation and features that inherently promote AAC best practices. In addition, there is evidence-based research behind the language and features in Speak for Yourself.

How were the words in Speak for Yourself chosen?

Vocabulary is based on research of the most commonly used words across age, gender, language, settings, and situations. Eighty percent of the words that we use to communicate are comprised of a core vocabulary of 300-500 words.  This means that approximately only twenty percent of a person’s vocabulary is “personalized.” The main screen of Speak for Yourself is comprised of 119 of these core words. Each of the main screen buttons links to additional related core words and personalized, programmable vocabulary.

Why can’t I edit some of these words?

The core vocabulary words that are used consistently and frequently by EVERYONE to communicate, have been permanently locked so that they remain consistent throughout the users lifetime.  These words are research-based and provide the nonverbal individual with the same vocabulary that they’re hearing most often throughout their day.

I just did a lot of programming. How can I make sure I don’t lose it?

Back it up! Losing customizations in your AAC user’s device can be heartbreaking! You can back up your vocabulary and photos through iTunes, Dropbox or email in Speak for Yourself. It takes 7 seconds and potentially saves hours! Here are more detailed instructions about how to do it!

This does not make sense to me! How is the vocabulary organized in Speak for Yourself?

At first glance it may not seem like it, but there is a “method to the madness.” Each core word on the main screen has the ability to link to a secondary screen. Speak for Yourself comes “out of the box” with 67 buttons linked to categories. The remaining buttons can be linked so that you can expand categories that overflow or add your own user-specific categories (classmate’s names, TV shows…). Here is a blog post that provides more explanation and detail.

Category labels in the Speak for Yourself AAC app.

Category labels in the Speak for Yourself AAC app.

 These buttons are so small and this child has visual/fine motor issues! Can I make the buttons bigger?

These may not be to scale on your computer/phone/tablet screen.

These may not be to scale on your computer/phone/tablet screen.

The button size in Speak for Yourself does not change, unless you change the size of the iPad (mini, regular, iPad Pro) you purchase. Motor planning is key to our movement throughout our lives…walking, talking, driving, eating, typing. It’s also crucial to automaticity and communication rate when using augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). Once Speak for Yourself users learn the location of a word, it stays there forever. The first word they learned is in the exact same place, even if all 14,000 buttons in the app are filled. Vocabulary learning scaffolds just as it does when verbal children learn to speak. This helps to support children with fine motor and visual issues as they learn the consistent location of words rather than relying on visually scanning the screen and discriminating between abstract symbols.

If the button size change, the location would have to change as vocabulary grows. Here’s a blog post that explains the actual button size and the impact it has on the amount of language that’s accessible to the AAC user.

Where can I get symbols to make support materials?

The symbols used in the Speak for Yourself app are Smarty Symbols. You can follow the link for their website and information about getting a very affordable subscription. You can also get the symbols by downloading the Custom Boards app.