What It Is: An app for creating talking photo albums and stories (by AssistiveWare).
How It Works: This app allows you to make your own talking photo albums or books.There are two basic ways to do this: wizard and expert. When you first create the story, you have the option to choose between the two of these (and have your choice saved for future stories); however, it is easy to go back and edit your story in the other mode. I would recommend wizard for anyone just beginning to use the app. It walks you through a basic set-up, with only one task on each page so as not to complicate things. The first page asks you what you want to title your story. The second prompts you to add a picture. The third allows you to choose a voice, which could be one of two digital voices or your own recording. Then, you have the option of adding pages, which can have text and must have pictures. After you’ve finished adding your content, you press done and are then able to immediately view your story or make more stories. After you get the basic gist of wizard (which will probably be after 1-2 stories), it is a little faster to choose the expert mode. This mode is very similar; however, instead of one step per page, you can switch around between the various settings and steps. There are also more customization options in this mode (e.g. different fonts and the ability to have pages without pictures).
My Therapy Applications: I’m going to be honest and tell you that I’ve only used this app for a couple weeks and have probably made more stories than my clients have! That’s part of the great thing about this app–it’s not restricted to one age group. For younger kids, this is a great app for letting them share about something exciting in their life, which can target a wide variety of goals. (Think: expressive language, descriptive vocabulary, etc.) It can also be used to make stories to address articulation. (Think: a story about all the silly things “Sam the Serpent” ate for supper.) This could be done for them but is usually more fun to do with them. For older kids (or even younger kids), I could easily see this app being adapted for creating social stories or addressing literacy goals. One of my professors suggested using the app with adults with aphasia. Not only can it help them tell stories about, for example, what they did over the weekend, but it can also help them attach language to memories and make therapy more meaningful and successful.
Pros: 1. Personalization. Few apps can really be personalized the way this app can. You can have your own pictures, thoughts, and voice on every page.
2. Ease of use. While I probably will not use the wizard mode much, it was nice to have this for learning purposes and made understanding and transitioning to the expert mode simple.
3. Wide range of applications. As mentioned above, this app can be used to address nearly any aspect of speech and language from AAC to pragmatics to literacy.
4. It’s “normal.” Again, I enjoy this app for my own use. It is completely appropriate and acceptable for someone without any disability to use this app, so there isn’t the stigma of using a device or app dedicated to, say, those with expressive communication difficulties.
5. Features pictures. While it is possible to create pages that only have text, the app really centers around the pictures. For kids who cannot read or adults with various language deficits, this can be useful.
6. Customization. There are many, many options for changing the settings. For example, it is possible to change how the app pronounces a word (e.g. a client’s name).
7. Simplicity. While there are some great customization options, the app’s basic design lends itself to stress-free creativity.
8. Easy to share. There are actually way more options for sharing than I expected. You can export it as a Pictello story, export it as a PDF (to email or iTunes, for example), or get a link to the story.
9. Narration clarity. The digital voices are actually pretty decent and have good (albeit not perfect) pronunciation, intonation, and rate.
Cons: 1. Price. I hedged a little on purchasing this one and wish it were a little cheaper; however, I believe I have already gotten my money’s worth.
2. Simplicity. Yes, this was also one of my “pros”! While I appreciate its basic design, I do wish there were at least a LITTLE more customization in regards to the pictures and placements. For example, it would be nice to be able to have more than one picture on a page or to be able to drag the picture to a different area.
The Take-Away: Again, I wish the app were a little less pricey; however, it is well worth the purchase. The app is functional, can be used in so many ways, and is easy to use. I would highly recommend it to almost any SLP due to its versatility.
My Questions for You: Are you already using this app? If so, what goals do you address while using it? If not, would this app be useful for you during therapy?