These days, many of us have a potential augmentative alternative communication (AAC) device right in our pocket. Mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets are easy to use and transport. They are also socially accepted as a standard device to carry – making them an excellent option for an AAC device. There are plenty of apps available – some at no to little cost – that can turn any mobile device into an AAC device or aid adults with a variety of special needs or disabilities in numerous ways – from fine motor skills practice to staying on schedule. Many of these available apps also have free lite versions or free trial periods that allow the user to test them out before deciding which is right for them.

There are plenty of apps available that can aid adults with special needs or disabilities in numerous ways - from fine motor skills to staying on schedule.

Some of the best apps for adults with special needs are below:

Abilipad by Appy Therapy – Abilipad, aka “the WRITE TOOL for the iPad,” was developed by an occupational therapist to facilitate writing. The Keyboard Creator lets one design keyboards using letters, words, sentences, or pictures with custom key sizes, fonts, colors and audio recordings. The notepad offers word prediction to assist with spelling and to reduce keystrokes, as well as text-to-speech that allows one to hear what was written in order to correct spelling and grammatical errors.

Capti Voice by Charmtech Labs LLC – Capti Narrator is an assistive technology app that allows users to browse the web and add content to a playlist to be read aloud. Originally designed for individuals with visual impairments, the app is now being used by anyone who enjoys the convenience of collecting web content to be read aloud at a later time. Creator Yevgen Borodin describes this app as providing “freedom from the screen”.

Dexteria – Fine Motor Skills Development by BinaryLabs, Inc. – This app is a set of therapeutic hand exercises that improve fine motor skills. There are 3 activities – one requires the person to isolate fingers and press buttons while keeping the thumb in one spot- this works on finger isolation, motor planning, and sequencing, one works on a pinch – this works on fine motor movements needed for holding a pencil and picking up objects- the other is handwriting (print). There is a report that can be generated and emailed or printed that lists levels and times for each activity. This app is great for all ages because it does not look like a child’s game, and it is quite engaging.

First-Then Visual Schedule by Good Karma Apps – First-Then Visual Schedule application is designed for caregivers to provide positive behavior support for those with communication needs. This application provides an affordable and convenient audio-visual prompting tool for use on the iPhone or iTouch. The portability of the iPhone and iTouch and ease of use of the application make it perfect for use at school, home, or in the community.

Grace App by Steven-Troughton Smith – A simple picture exchange system developed by and for non-verbal people allowing the user to communicate their needs by building sentences from relevant images. It can be customized by the individual using their picture and photo vocabulary with the user taking and saving pictures independently to the app.

iCommunicate by Grembe – Create images, flashcards, storyboards, routines, and visual schedules. Record custom audio in any language. Includes 100+ pictures to get you started. Add photos with your camera, or from your camera roll, or use Google image search. Utilize as audio-visual prompting tool or AAC device.

iConverse – iConverse is a tool designed for individuals with communicative disabilities. iConverse is an AAC app for the iPhone and iPod Touch that replaces bulky and expensive communication devices used in the past. This app gives users the ability to carry an AAC device in their pocket, creating a means of communication that is appropriate, effective, and discreet. It comes with six communication tiles that represent a person’s most basic needs. When activated by touch, the icons give both an auditory and visual representation of the specific need or want. iConverse allows parents, teachers, and the general public to understand the basic wishes and needs of individuals who are unable to communicate verbally.

In My Dreams by DevelopEase – Have fun with reading, matching, and sign language. In My Dreams uses animation and repetition to promote literacy. Each page has the same sentence structure and reinforces understanding of nouns, verbs, and prepositions. In My Dreams is an instructional app designed with illustrations that provide language cues.

iReward by Grembe – iReward is a fun and useful app.  Use it with your spouse, kids, yourself, or anyone for whom you want to provide some positive reinforcement. iReward is a motivation chart for your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad.

Keeble by AssistiveWare – Keeble is an iOS keyboard that allows users with fine motor-challenges, switch users and users with vision impairments to type in almost any app. The keyboard offers word prediction, timing options, Select on Release, Select on Dwell, auditory feedback, and other accessibility features. It also fully supports Switch Control and VoiceOver.

MyTalkTools Mobile – MyTalkTools Mobile is an AAC app that helps people with communication difficulties say what they want with sequences of words, sounds, and images. Users can choose simple grids or boards with bold images, and the app will play recorded sounds when an image is touched. The words and sequences even allow users to form complete sentences.

Open Sesame – Mobile phones have become a common need for everyone, including people with disabilities. Millions of people have limited use of their hands, which prevents them from doing activities that most of us take for granted, and regular phones are not equipped for the needs of people with limited mobility. Open Sesame uses the front-facing camera of any Android device to track head movement and unlock a touch-free smartphone, allowing the user to type text, make phone calls, and use other features.

PediusThis sophisticated app helps people who are deaf or hard of hearing communicate by mobile telephone without a third-party intermediary. Users can make real-time calls by text messaging their contacts. Just type in your message and the app translates it into speech, making it possible for the person on the other end of the call to hear it. When the contact responds, their speech is translated back into text so the caller can read it. Pedius can be used with an artificial voice, or users can record their own voices.

Predictable – Predictable is designed for people who are literate but do not have the ability to speak, due to cerebral palsy, motor neuron disease, laryngectomy, autism, stroke, apraxia, brain injury, or any other condition that affects a person’s speech. When users start typing on Predictable, the app predicts what the person wants to say and reads the sentence, giving a voice to people who don’t have one.

Proloquo2Go – This app is an Augmentative and Alternative Communication solution for students who suffer from speech difficulties due to autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, apraxia, aphasia or traumatic brain injury. The main aim of the app is to give children and adults with speech impediments a voice. Its visual vocabulary allows creating sentences of varying complexity to communicate wants, needs, and messages that are more advanced. The app is flexible and customizable and allows choosing from a range of realistic accents for children and adults to match their “inner voice”.

Proloquo4Text by AssistiveWare – Proloquo4Text is a text to speech app for alternative communication. The app is text-based and includes word prediction and sentence prediction. These two features allow much faster communication through the keyboard than simply typing all the words and sentences.

RainbowSentences by Mobile EducationStoreRainbow Sentences is designed to help students improve their ability to construct grammatically correct sentences by using color-coded visual cues. The who, what, where, and why parts of sentences are color-coded to help students recognize and understand how combinations of these parts create basic sentence structure.  Students will learn how to recognize the parts of sentences such as nouns, verbs, and prepositions, improve their understanding of how combinations of these parts create basic sentence structure. Students have the opportunity to record their sentences in their own voice to improve their receptive and expressive language skills.  

RogerVoice – RogerVoice breaks down communication barriers by making voice calls visually accessible through instant and real-time text captioning, or by video call with a sign language interpreter. With RogerVoice, users can subtitle calls with voice recognition, call for free to others who have the app, make subtitled video calls, request an interpreter for calls, reread calls with transcript history, and respond orally or in writing.

See. Touch. Learn. by Brain Parade – This app is a picture learning system designed by professionals specifically for those with autism and other special needs. See.Touch.Learn.™ makes traditional picture cards obsolete. Includes a starter set of stunning, high-quality images and 60 exercises created by a certified behavior analyst! Additional libraries of images and lessons are available for purchase from within the app.

StepByStep Sequencing for Kids and Adults by Soar Therapy, LLC – StepByStep is an app designed to evaluate and facilitate sequencing skills. It was designed by an occupational therapist and can be used with both adults and children. It is appropriate for users of all ages with impaired or developing cognitive skills.

Special Education Dictionary – Simple but awesome, this new app geared toward family members and teachers, provides definitions of thousands of special education terms for laypeople. Developed by The National Association of Special Education Teachers (NASET) Special Education Dictionary makes advocating for your special needs student far less overwhelming.

Talkitt – Talkitt is an app that helps people with speech and language disorders to communicate. Talkitt translates unintelligible pronunciation into understandable speech. It works by learning the user’s speech patterns, creating a personal speech dictionary, and identifying, recognizing, and translating the person’s speech so the individual is more easily understood.

Talk for Me – Text to Speech – Talk For Me – Text to Speech allows a user to type in the main text area or tap one of six main custom buttons, and the iOS device will talk for them. With keyboard shortcuts, predictive text, and custom phrases, this app allows users to communicate with ease.

Todo Visual Schedule by Enuma, Inc. – A visual schedule is a wearable picture-based scheduler designed with children and adults with autism in mind. Using the iPad or iPhone app, a caregiver can make a visual schedule for the wearer. There are included icons and icons/photos can be uploaded to the app to make custom icons. The schedule can then be sent to the wearer’s Apple Watch and will alert them when he/she needs to change tasks or start a new task.

TouchChat HD – AAC w/WordPower by Prentke Romich Company – TouchChat HD AAC with WordPower for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad is a comprehensive, customizable AAC communication application for that utilizes core words, picture/text pairs, pre-programmed phrases and sentences and scenes with embedded “hot spots” to aid a user ineffective communication.

Touch Voice Apps – Touch Voice Apps allow users to quickly and easily voice their needs and feelings in order to better communicate. These apps have been designed to address medical conditions such as stroke, ALS, traumatic brain injury, brain tumor, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, and others. Touch Voice produces AAC speaking apps which communicate through speech synthesis by touching or clicking on buttons.

Visual Attention Therapy by Tactus Therapy Solutions Ltd. – This is a very unique app that works on Visual Attention and is appropriate for adults and children. The app contains 10 different activities to address visual attention. You can also choose a variety of targets and use either one or two targets. The app can also be used for left/right training with a red, yellow or flashing symbol to draw the users attention to the neglected side. The app collects data that can then be sent via email.

Visual Schedule Planner by Good Karma Applications, Inc – Visual Schedule Planner is a completely customizable visual schedule iPad app that is designed to give an individual an audio/visual representation of the “events in their day”. In addition, events that require more support can be linked to an “activity schedule” or “video clip” to help model the task even further. Visual Planner is perfect for home, school, work or community environment. The app is designed for individuals who may benefit from visual support to ease transitions, anxiety, or who simply need a way to visually represent their day.

Voice4U – Voice4u is a picture-based communication app for those who have speech challenges. It is a portable, customizable, and easy-to-use communication tool designed to help bridge the communication gap and allow parents and caregivers to have a better and more accurate understanding of the individual’s wants and needs.

Voice Dream Reader by Voice Dream LLC – Voice Dream Reader is a must-have app for every student. Voice Dream reads aloud text that can be pulled from pdfs, web browsers, word docs, powerpoint, HTML, Dropbox and many more. A powerful resource for anyone struggling with reading or hoping to reinforce reading.

Do you have a favorite app for adults with special needs? Reach out to us and share!

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