Is that iPad Hazardous to Your Health?


Photo by dospaz

The iPad revolution has engulfed the communication disorders field. We love our iPads and other handheld devices. Just ‘flipping’ through the cornucopia of apps related to speech, language and hearing in the App Store, it is no wonder these devices and the apps they hold are becoming therapy toolbox essentials.

As our younger clients have become more engaged in activities that utilize technology, therapy programs that are supported by apps have become increasingly popular. Young people often use other, similar technology after school to play computer games, do homework or interact on social networking sites.

Whether it’s watching TV, doing homework or playing games on a computer, or using a mobile device to play games or send or receive text messages, there is a common denominator among activities many people regularly engage in: screens.  Some are large and some are the size of the palm of your hand. We spend hours viewing screens on computers, iPads and other tablets, TVs, iPhones and other handheld devices. And sometimes we view these screens in less than optimal conditions.

As an audiologist and ASHA National Office staff member, I often receive consumer questions regarding dizziness and balance problems. These complaints commonly arise from problems within the inner ear. I typically send consumer information on dizziness and balance and recommend a visit to the audiologist for hearing and balance assessment as a good first step in understanding the causes of these symptoms and to begin a plan for rehabilitation treatment for inner ear balance issues.

But I digress….back to screens. The Internet houses many discussion forums on dizziness, headaches and vision problems while viewing screens. Enough people are complaining that a term for the syndrome has been coined; the American Optometric Association refers to this group of symptoms as “Computer Vision Syndrome.” These symptoms are not related to inner ear problems or more serious neurological problems but rather to eyestrain and can include:

  • headaches
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • confusion and fuzzy thinking

Apple does have some warnings within the iPad manual about complaints of headaches, dizziness, and eyestrain. These warnings are not highlighted, though–you have to do a thorough search to find them. There is also a discussion about these symptoms on the Apple support community.

There appears to be little scientific evidence about screen/vision safety but I have seen some recurring suggestions on the discussion forums and from ophthalmologists:

  • use task lighting and turn off the overhead fluorescent lights
  • take frequent breaks…look away from the screen and focus on something about 20 feet away for about 20 seconds
  • use special lens/glasses for computer use
  • adjust the lighting of the screen, some folks lower the backlit screens and get improvement
  • increase font size
  • adjust the ambient room lighting
  • position computer screens slightly lower than eye level (about 4 inches)
  • remember to blink. This will reduce dry eyes.

Have you or any of your clients noticed any of these symptoms when using iPads or other mobile devices?

Pamela Mason, M.Ed., CCC-A is the director of audiology professional practices at the ASHA national office. Before working at ASHA, she directed the Audiology Center at the George Washington University Hospital in Washington DC.

Hearing Health and Development Following Adoption

LOUD speaker

Photo by woodleywonderworks

All my life I have been blessed with excellent hearing perception and health. Now due to my mold allergies, I have started to have fluid in my middle ear when the humidity and mold count rises above normal. The extra fluid in my ears has annoyingly affected my hearing acuity and balance. On one hand, I now understand how children feel when they have otitis media but on the other hand, I want to get rid of this ailment as quickly as I can! Naturally I sought the advice of an audiologist who completed impedance testing. As it turns out, my tympanograms showed only a small loss of flexibility in the tympanic membrane and fell in the low normal range. Typically most medical professionals would not treat a patient who exhibited these symptoms preferring to wait until the patient demonstrated consistent flat tympanograms or infection. Although I exhibit neither of these conditions, the small amount of fluid in my ear has significantly reduced my hearing acuity especially in noisy environments like the classroom. I wonder how can children focus and learn when they have fluid in the middle ear?

Children who reside in orphanages around the world may receive less than adequate medical care. Otitis media is often untreated and children’s hearing is not tested or monitored (Bledsoe & Johnston, 2004; Johnson, 2000). Due to the lack of attention to hearing health, it is not unusual for children to become accustomed to the symptoms of ear pain, imbalance, and poor hearing acuity. When parents adopt these children, they may expect the children to demonstrate behaviors of discomfort when ill. However, because of the lack of attention to hearing health, the children do not show symptoms of pain or lack of balance and the parents may not recognize when to seek medical care. At the International Adoption Clinic at Saint Louis University, I have seen children with undiagnosed hearing loss and ear infections, some of whom had previously seen a pediatrician the day before.

Additionally, children residing in orphanages are cared for by a rotation of adults where the child to adult ratio may be high. Johnson reported on conditions of care in Romanian orphanages where children were often left in their cribs/beds, received little if any social interaction from caregivers, and had few experiences with toys or educational stimulation. As a result, children’s hearing experiences were unmentored and they may not have learned which sounds were meaningful to attend to or what certain sounds meant.

Sometimes years after they were adopted, some children who passed a hearing screening and audiological evaluation did not alert to environmental sounds (whistles, knocks on the door, telephones, or their name being called). I have also seen children who have difficulty attending to and discriminating speech from noise as well as children with an undetected/undiagnosed hearing loss. Without careful assessment by professionals with expertise with internationally adopted children, these children may slip through the cracks and not receive appropriate services.

It is important to conduct a thorough evidence-based assessment when an internationally adopted child is referred or presents with hearing, speech, language, or attention problems. Hearing screenings including otoscopic evaluation, impedance audiometry and sound field or pure tone audiometry should be included unless the child has recently been evaluated by an audiologist. An in-depth case history of hearing, attention, speech and language behaviors and development should be collected. If the child passes all audiological measures, the speech-language pathologist should also assess the child’s knowledge of meaningful sounds as well as hearing discrimination and perception in quiet and noise and in some cases, additional audiological assessment for auditory processing disorder may be warranted.


Bledsoe, J. M., & Johnston, B. D. (2004). Preparing families for international adoption.
Pediatrics in Review, 25(7), 241-249. Retrieved from:

Johnson, D.E. (2000). Medical and developmental sequelae of early childhood
institutionalization in Eastern European adoptees. In C.A. Nelson (Ed.), The
Minnesota symposia on child psychology: The effects of early adversity on
neurobehavioral development (Vol. 31, pp.113-162). Minnesota Symposium on
Child Psychology.

Deborah Hwa-Froelich, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, is a Saint Louis University professor and Director of the International Adoption Clinic with interests in social effects on communication such as culture, poverty, parent-child interaction, maternal/child health, and disrupted development.

The SLP New Graduate’s Timeline for Success

Road to Uluru

Photo by Jo@net

(This blog article has been adapted for ASHASphere from the “PediaStaff New Graduate Guide.”  Click here to download the entire guidebook.)

We’re sure you’ve heard the old adage that “Timing is Everything!”  This has never been truer than as you take the next step toward becoming a Speech Language Pathologist. This blog article will help you navigate what we like to call the “road map to success.”

At the Beginning of Your Degree Program:

  • Create a favorites folder in your computer browser where you can start to catalogue the various websites of job search and clinical resources that you will come across.
  • Start ‘networking socially’ specifically for your profession. For example, join Twitter and follow the “#SLPeeps” hashtag, join the ASHA LinkedIn group, and if you are going to work with kiddos, the Pediatric and School Based Therapy group on LinkedIn.
  • Subscribe to all professional newsletters and blogs you can find relevant to your course of study. Many of the not-for-profit organizations that specialize in specific communications disorders have robust newsletters that contain information-packed articles and current news items. SLPs are prolific bloggers! Sean Sweeney of the Speech Techie blog has put together a great Blog Bundle of 17 bloggers that blog about speech-language pathology topics.
  • Begin preparing your professional resume. List all pertinent class work, projects, awards, publications, and workshops you’ve attended. Also include para-professional employment and volunteer work if applicable. Use bullet format please. This is a work in progress!
  • Since I am not fond of “Don’ts,” here are a few “Do’s” for you to consider when beginning your search:
    • Do post your resume…but limit where and how many…YOU take control of your job search.
    • Do choose your recruiter carefully…the right one is your “best friend and ally” in your search.
    • Do stay focused on what’s important now….your clinical experience and preparing for your professional exam.

In the Final Year of Your Degree Program (6 months from graduation):

  • Continue working on items in the section above.
  • Begin the process of identifying your location preferences and communicate them with the recruiters you’ve identified and others who you have asked to help you with your search.
  • Set up a separate email account (Yahoo, Gmail, etc.) for ONLY job search related issues. Keep it professional! (For example:, or
  • Update your resume. Include all clinical work…quantify whenever possible (worked with 8 students at John Jay Elementary School…list diagnoses and treatment used.)

Three Months from Graduation – During your Clinical Fieldwork

  • Same as above. Begin to narrow down your employment preferences.
  • Definitely start connecting with a recruiter that you trust in your area to discuss job prospects, specifically one that will customize a search for you.  Establish and convey your availability for phone and face-to-face interviews to that person or persons.

Two Months from Graduation

  • Schedule your PRAXIS exam if you have not already done so.
  • Make sure you update your resume to include clinical affiliations and resend to everyone that you previously sent a copy.
  • Develop a reference list – Ask your references for permission so they know you’re listing them, and ask each for a written reference, these are sometimes helpful.
  • Build a schedule of available times for phone interviews and visits with prospective employers.

One Month from Graduation (Oh my Goodness, it’s Getting Close!)

  • Continue to conduct interviews as needed.
  • Begin licensure research, review requirements for the state(s) you are interested in.
  • Develop plans for relocation (if necessary).
  • Finalize your resume with graduation, professional exam results, and any articles published or continuing education taken.
  • You should be in weekly contact with the recruiter(s) that you are working with.
  • Be sure to have your relocation plans in place to include cost of relocation.

We highly encourage you to plan for some down time for yourself! It is important for you to begin your new career rested, refreshed, and ready to tackle the challenge ahead!

Heidi Kay is one of the founding partners of PediaStaff and is the editor-in-chief of the PediaStaff New Graduate Guide [PDF], and the PediaStaff Blog, which delivers the latest news, articles, research updates, therapy ideas, and resources from the world of pediatric and school-based therapy. PediaStaff is a nationwide, niche oriented company focused on the placement and staffing of pediatric therapists including speech-language pathologists.

Encouraging Speech and Language Skills while Sharing Books with a Group of Children

Sailor reads to Filipino children

Photo by Official U.S. Navy Imagery

(This post is part two of last week’s post by Stephanie Sigal, How to Read Books with Children with Language Delay)

Parents often read to their two year old and four year old simultaneously.  Early childhood teachers read to their students every school day.  When reading to a group of children, it is vital that you are familiar with the text.  You may wish to take a moment to think about open-ended questions you can ask children before you begin a story.  For example, if you were to be reading Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson, you could ask “Does anyone know what bears do all winter long?”  If you get a response such as “sleep” or “hibernate,” great!  If you do not get a response, inform the children.  Giving them a glimpse into the story will enhance their understanding and appreciation.

Ask questions during the story.  Perhaps there is a vocabulary word the children might not be familiar with.  In the book Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay up Late by Mo Willems, the pigeon insists the children listening to the book let him stay up so he can watch an educational program on television.  You can ask, “What does educational mean?”  You can also explain to the children how the pigeon is trying to “trick” (manipulate) them into letting him stay up late.  Then, ask the children “How have you tried to trick your parents?”

At the conclusion of a story, ask children to carry over a main theme from a book into their daily lives.  For example, after reading My Friend Rabbit by Eric Rohmann, ask the children “What does it mean to be a good friend?”

Adding props and puppets to group story time can engage kids with various levels of attention.  In Caps For Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina, the peddler walks around carrying many caps on his head.  The children can do the same with caps that you have previously collected for story time, or they can use their winter hats, or caps that they make as an art project to accompany the theme of the book.

Using different voices and revealing the characters’ emotions while acting out the story can also help children attend and relate more effectively.  The mother dog in Bark, George by Jules Feiffer gets frustrated with her son, while he makes great animal sounds.  The children will laugh when you over-act the role of George, his mother and especially the veterinarian reaching deep down into George’s mouth to pull out all the animals he has consumed.

Children are inspired to verbally participate when their peers say the repetitive line in a story together.  In Tikki Tikki Tembo retold by Arlene Mosel, the older brother’s name is Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo.  Opportunities to say this long name come up numerous times, sometimes fast, sometimes slow, and children listening will want to try to say the name along with you.

Always read the title, author and illustrator’s names.  Ask the children “What is an author?” “What is an illustrator?”  Provide the information accordingly.  If the author has written other books the children may be familiar with, ask them “What other books has this author written?”  If necessary, name one or two of the books and you may notice how excited the children become when they realize they have shared a previous experience with you.

If you need help choosing the right books based on your child’s needs, you can ask your speech therapist, child’s teacher or librarian.


Stephanie Sigal, M.A. CCC-SLP, is a speech language therapist practicing on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, NYC. She works with babies, toddlers and school age children with expressive language delay and articulation disorders. Stephanie provides home based speech therapy and encourages parents to facilitate their children’s speech and language skills. To learn more about Stephanie, please visit

How Speech Therapy and Battlestar Galactica Create a Momentous Week

Battlestar Galactica

Photo by

This has been a momentous week for me. I closed the door on my private speech-therapy practice: with one last session, a small celebration, and some final hugs, a transition long in coming transformed into the end. Lights out, door closed.

Given this big professional ending, it is no surprise that I am blogging about it. Except I’m not going to continue. I’m going to write about Battlestar Galactica.

For those of you outside the Battlestar Galactica world, Battlestar is a television series remade from a 1970s sci fi show. It ran from 2004 to 2009, but I never saw it on air. In January 2008 my husband and I rented the 2-hour miniseries, which launches the four-season show. With that viewing, we became devoted fans, and we spent the next 3-1/2 years working our way through 4.5 seasons, 21 discs, 58 shows, and a slew of extras.  We watched every show, viewed a good many podcasts, saw every deleted scene, and talked—a lot—about characters, plot, meaning, predictions, and whether we could be cylons.

This week, we finished the show. Rapt and barely breathing, we watched the last episode: a heart-pounding hour of action, an emotional 30-minute conclusion, and a somewhat confusing brief coda (less confusing on the second watch). Then we sat in our darkened living room, each of us saying in turn, “I can’t believe it’s over.”

What is this show’s hold on me? How can I begin to convey its place in my consciousness and the reason for that?

This is a show of human (and non-human) relationships, of characters who challenge you and engage you and own you (and then break your heart). It’s a show where you form alliances, only to be thrust into new ways of viewing the very people you thought you understood. It’s a show where you confront your own contradictory feelings and are forced to reconsider what you believe to be true.

This is a show of story, of narrative so complex you search for (and beg for) explanations (many of which don’t come until the end). It is also a show of action, with spectacular battle scenes that demand multiple viewings just to see all that’s happening. It’s a show where the major reveals and unexpected moments leave you gasping and screaming and lying awake at night.

But above all, this is a show of endless big questions.

  • What does it mean to be human?
  • What fantasies and hopes keep us striving under the direst of conditions?
  • How do we know what’s real? How do we know what is us?
  • What happens when we are forced to consider a radical new version of ourselves?
  • What is faith? What is loyalty?
  • What motivates us to bravery?
  • Must we repeat old patterns or can we really change?

I loved Battlestar for these questions. I loved it for the drama and amazing story lines, for the movie-quality editing and deeply integrative music. I loved it for the complex and beautifully enacted characters. I loved it because my husband and I shared its intensity and emotion. I loved it beyond any logical analysis.

Even as I write this, I am thinking, “I can’t believe it’s over.” But in keeping with the energy of this week, I know that it’s time to move on. Battlestar Galactica will remain in my consciousness, but it’s time for the next great thing. Real life is beckoning.

Questions for Reflection: Have you ever watched a television series that captured your imagination and felt significant in your life? Which of the questions posed by the show might interest you?

Writing Prompts: “This post makes me think of the show ______” (then keep writing); “I am most attracted to shows that make me think about ______” (then keep writing); “I get hooked on a show that ______” (then keep writing).

Any fans of Battlestar out there? I would love to hear from you—I need to debrief!

(this post originally appeared on The Reflective Writer)

Judy Stone-Goldman, PhD, CCC-SLP, LMHC, is an Emeritus Senior Lecturer with the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences, University of Washington. After a long career in teaching, supervising, and providing service, she has shifted her focus to writing as a means of exploring personal-professional balance, boundaries, and life choices. You can read her blog—and join in with your own reflective writing—at The Reflective Writer.

How to Read Books with Children with Language Delay

Reading is fun

Photo by John-Morgan

Reading books with your child can provide experiences and vocabulary that he or she may not be exposed to on a daily basis.  Experience allows children to gain understanding.  When a child understands vocabulary and situations, he or she has the foundation to use these words in verbal language.

Always read with your child face to face with the book next to your face, not in front of your mouth.  This will allow your child to see how you move your mouth when you say words, see your facial expressions and engage in eye contact.  With a baby, you can create this opportunity while he or she is on the change table, floor, car seat, bouncy chair or on your thighs facing you.

Reading with your child everyday should start from birth.  At this time, you can read anything to your son or daughter, even The New York Times.  What matters is HOW you read it.  Read with feeling, show emotion and pause to allow your baby to vocalize back to you.

Initially, choose books with a story and meaning.  Vocabulary board books (e.g., books by Roger Priddy or select DK Publishing books) will be boring for you and not provide much benefit for your baby.  Reading longer stories during the first months will help to build your child’s attention.  Books like The Three Bears by Byron Barton, Summer by Alice Low and Chewy Louie by Howie Schneider will be fun for you and your baby.

If your toddler has trouble paying attention to a book, try reading when he or she is “trapped” (e.g., in the highchair eating, in the car seat while traveling, just waking up from a nap in the stroller).  I once worked with a two year old boy who would only happily pay attention to an unfamiliar book while standing in his crib facing me.  Once he became familiar with a book, we could read the book elsewhere.

Choosing the right books can help target speech and language skills you want to develop.

If your child is not talking, choose books that contain words that begin with bilabial sounds.  These are sounds where your upper and lower lips come together (/m/, /b/ and /p/).  Bilabial sounds are generally early sounds produced by children because they can see how an adult is moving their lips, which is helpful for imitation.  Favorite books that include bilabial sounds are It’s Not Easy Being a Bunny (Marilyn Sadlow), The Berenstain’s B Book (Stanley and Jan Berenstain) and any book that contains animal sounds (moo, baa, maa).  Overemphasize /m/, /b/ and /p/ and make eye contact with your child when saying bilabial sounds in any book.

Selecting books with repetitive phrases may allow your child to participate during story time.  Great examples include: Dear Zoo (Rod Campbell), The Very Busy Spider (Eric Carle) and The Gingerbread Boy (Richard Egielski).  Give your child the opportunity to complete the repetitive line, or if he or she is ready, the whole line.  Hopefully, these words will carry over into daily vocabulary.

Rhyming books help children with word prediction, which is crucial for reading development.  Once familiar with a rhyming book, have your child try to fill-in the rhyming word.  Dr. Seuss’ The Foot Book begins: Left foot, Left foot, Right foot, Right – Feet in the morning, Feet at _____ (child should say “night”).

If your child’s speech therapist has determined that understanding and using prepositions is an important goal for your child, use books to reinforce what occurs in therapy.  Trashy Town by Andrea Zimmerman and David Clemesha, Up Above and Down Below by Sue Redding and Around the House the Fox Chased the Mouse by Rick Walton are all loaded with prepositions.

A child with more developed language who has difficulty providing details and descriptions may benefit from “reading” wordless picture books to you.  Pictures in the story should be described so that the story makes sense.  You can use picture books with text, as long as the pictures are detailed themselves.  (You may cover the text with your hand if your child can read.)  This works best with Caldecott Medal / Honor Books.  Excellent examples include Knuffle Bunny books (Mo Willems), No, David! (David Shannon) and Where The Wild Things Are (Maurice Sendak).

Other favorite wordless picture books include A Boy, a Dog and a Frog Series by Mercer Mayer, Pancakes for Breakfast by Tomie DePaola and The Jack Series by Pat Schories.  If you feel your child leaves out important information, ask an open-ended question (e.g., “Ooo – What’s happening over here?”).  Provide a description if you feel this is too challenging.  Perhaps this will increase your child’s awareness to be more specific and when you sit down to read the book again, the new information will be included.

Sometimes it is helpful if you “read” a wordless picture book to your child first.  Describe what you see or make-up the story-line.  For example, when David, the main character in the book No, David! is about to fall off the chair while reaching for a cookie, you can say: “Be careful David, you’re going to get hurt!” or “No cookies before dinner!!”

Coming next week: Encouraging Speech and Language Skills while Sharing Books with a Group of Children

Stephanie Sigal, M.A. CCC-SLP, is a speech language therapist practicing on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, NYC. She works with babies, toddlers and school age children with expressive language delay and articulation disorders. Stephanie provides home based speech therapy and encourages parents to facilitate their children’s speech and language skills. To learn more about Stephanie, please visit

Loss, Grief, and the Longing for Human Connection

Couple walking on beach at sunset

Photo by RonAlmog

(This post originally appeared on Living Successfully With Aphasia)

About a month ago, driving in the early morning madness that is New Jersey traffic, I listened to this piece on NPR.  With the death of Osama Bin Laden has come a plethora of articles, photos, blogposts:  people’s emotional holding places have been disturbed, and everything is raw again.

This podcast was made by Beverly Eckert, who lost her husband, Sean on 911.  She recorded the podcast four years after his death, but the words sounded new and the feelings full as I drove the highway in muted sunlight.  Loss, grief, the longing for human connection.  These are what I heard, what I hear in the conversations I have with people living with aphasia.  And, like Beverly, the time that passes does not really soften the pain.

 Vision blurred, I pulled over to the side of the road, and wept.  It will not be the last time I am able to share in another’s longing for the return of what was.

Shirley Morganstein and Marilyn Certner Smith co-founded Speaking of Aphasia, a Life Participation practice in Montclair, NJ where people with aphasia instruct her daily in their journey. Recently, Shirley began a blog focused more on her personal thoughts about the people she has met and her own process as a therapist

Is the iPad revolutionizing Speech Therapy? From an SLP & App Developer

(This post originally appeared on GeekSLP)

It seemed like just an ordinary day back in November of 2009, when I was playing with my iPhone and I was thunderstruck with an epiphany to create apps for speech therapists. As the iLighbulbs flashed above my head I envisioned an app that would provide therapists with the ability to select specific phonemes and have all their flashcards stored on their iPhones. For some people an idea like this can feel farfetched, but for me, a self-professed geek, having already designed several websites from a young age and understanding html very well, learning what it would take to put my ideas in action was not an obstacle that I would let get in my way. With non-stop dedication, and night after night working tirelessly, my first app –and the very first app for speech therapists– was born; like a proud mother, I still remember that precise joyful moment on January 2nd of 2010.

The app was called Mobile Articulation Probes (now renamed Smarty Speech), and it was on sale on iTunes for $29.99; and I was elated and ecstatic. Still feeling the momentum of creating something so new and useful I signed up for a booth that very same month for the Texas Speech and Hearing convention happening in March, and I could not wait to see the faces of excitement from my fellow SLPs when I showed them what my app could offer them in therapy.

But I didn’t take five seconds for myself to breathe between January and March as I was working non-stop on creating five other apps (WhQuestions, Age calculator, yes/no, iTake Turns, iPractice Verbs). I was a woman on a mission. I could feel the difference these apps made in therapy rippling through my veins and I wanted to see every aspect of therapy utilize the potential of this powerful device. Despite the fact that maybe 10 to 20% of TSHA attendees that year owned an iPhone or iPod touch, it appeared nobody had even ever considered using it for therapy! Oh, I forgot to say: all this happened before the iPad (yes, there was life before iPad).

I loved seeing the reaction of my fellow SLPs when I showed them what the app could do. A lot of people instantly recognized it was a deal: 450 flashcards organized by sounds with data tracking capabilities. This would probably cost us around $200 if we buy paper flashcards (not to mention that they don’t come with data tracking capabilities). Other attendees were apprehensive at such a change, they thought it was too expensive. The reality was this: most iPhone apps I knew cost less than $1, so I could see where they were coming from. No matter if they loved it or not, one thing was universal—their eyes bulged wide open with amazement as if they were looking at an alien, and more often than not that look of surprise turned to a smile when they saw this “alien technology” for therapy was on something they might already own—an iPhone. Today– a little over one year- -that app on its original state would be considered outdated.

I believe that at that time if you searched the key word “Speech therapy” on the app store probably 80% of apps there were developed by me. ;-) – Well, there were probably only eight apps available.

In May of 2010 the iPad was released and at the same time I saw the need to let users know about the amazing possibilities of the iPad. Although great strides had been made in accepting the iPhone and iPad as a tool for use in therapy, there seemed to be a lack of general education on using it as a therapist tool. Questions continually swirled around the web and at conventions: what happens if I delete the app? Can I use my iPhone app on my iPad? What is a universal app? Can I use the apps on my computer? That’s when GeekSLP was born. My first video–done with dark lighting, and not much planning–taught viewers that it IS possible to run iPhone apps on iPads. Today, only one year later, GeekSLP has had over 55 thousand views!

Many people have difficulty separating me as a developer and me as an app reviewer/educator/blogger of  tech for SLPs. While Smarty Ears is a company that is behind me in the development of apps, I still felt the need to do things independently from the company, such as teach about other apps that I like and about implementing technology. GeekSLP & Smarty Ears are like cousins with completely different purposes. GeekSLP gives free information (it is a free app) that can benefit almost all educational technology users by giving them tips on utilizing their iDevices, while Smarty Ears is pushing Speech Therapy and education forward by creating apps.

When I started blogging and video podcasting only a couple (and I mean TWO or so) SLPs were doing it- -especially with a focus on technology; today we have tons of blogs that want to discuss and review apps. Is this the “SLP APPidemy”?

Yes, the iPad is a revolution to our field. However, would it really be a revolution without the apps or without the people who created them?

If you search the key word “Speech Therapy” on your iPad you will see that we have 55 iPad apps for SLPs. I have created 14 of them. I have created a total of 25 apps between iPhone, iPad and Android apps! Five more in the works. I am currently collaborating with my fellow SLPs from Twitter, which has led me to start publishing apps for other SLPs with ideas like mine.

If you search the keyword “physical therapy” you get only 23 apps, and only four when you search “occupational therapy”; likewise you only see 14 when you search “counseling.” You may ask yourself: is the iPad having the same impact on these professions?
I believe the iPad is an enormous success partly due to the nature of our work: play based learning. Also because we have been stuck in the stone age with our materials: flashcards? Worksheets? But also because the apps are available; I applaud all SLPs who have created apps for us.

Today the iPad is seen as the number one therapy box for many therapists. It is also the number one topic many speech therapy groups discuss online. I have provided trainings all over the country and been invited to at least 10 state conventions for this year (and invitations for 2012 are also filling my mailbox) to teach people about the amazing power of technology and apps.

It has been an amazing year for my profession and for me and I see that we are moving towards a more environmentally friendly and engaging therapy set up. It was about time! After 15 months developing apps for SLPs, giving training all over the world on the use of apps and iPad, I still always look forward making new geek friends online, presenting, and creating apps that make a difference.


Barbara Fernandes is a trilingual Speech- Language pathologist, a geek  and an app developer. She is the founder and CEO of Smarty Ears Apps , a company that creates apps for speech therapy. Barbara is also the face behind GeekSLP TV, a blog and video podcast focusing on the use of technology in speech therapy. Barbara has also been a practicing speech therapist both in Brazil and in the United States. Barbara has created over 21 applications for the mobile devices for speech therapists.

Technology’s Emerging Frontier in Speech-Language Pathology, Part 2–Resources

Child with iPhone

Photo by jenny downing

In Part 1 of this two-part series, I wrote about a project I worked on researching technology in education and in speech-language pathology. The following is the  list of resources I mentioned in that post, which I think serves as a good starting off point to incorporating technology into practice:

  • Avocado Technologies–this website provides many great websites and articles related to speech-language pathology. It is a great starting point for finding current technology related to the profession.
  • Q&A: Digital Media and the Evolving Classroom–this is a blog post written in Q&A style with an award-winning journalist talking about digital media in the classroom. She describes how, in a short amount of time, there has been a huge shift in our culture regarding technology.
  • Education and the Future of Technology–this 5-minute video brings up several very important factors about the world we currently live in. However, some of the facts presented may be out of date when viewed simply because our world is constantly changing.
  • Phonetics Flash Animation Project–this website provides animated articulation of all the phonemes, vowels and consonants, in English, German, and Spanish.
  • Geek SLP–this great website provides many great resources, articles, blog posts, and information about new apps for technology covering language and speech.
  • Starfall–a great website geared toward pre-k through 2nd grade children learning to read. The website provides fun activities that focus on the phonics of reading.
  • TinyEYE Therapy Services–TinyEYE Therapy Services provides SLPs to school districts through telepractice, a delivery model commonly referred to as online speech therapy.
  • Technology Impacts on Education–this 2010 article describes the impact that technology has on education and how it continually changes the way we learn.
  • Speech Gadget–this blog contains good information regarding new aspects of technology. All therapy materials, websites, applications and gadgets mentioned in this blog are discussed as potential tools to aid in the development of speech and language skills.
  • TherapyApp411–this blog provides reviews and other content regarding apps and devices from a therapists’ perspective- SLPs, OTs, PTs or other disciplines. The posts reflects personal experience with apps and places them in the context of therapy sessions.
  • ASHAsphere–ASHAsphere is the official blog of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. ASHAsphere is intended to inspire discussion about issues related to the fields of audiology and speech pathology, and features posts from a variety of authors, including communication sciences and disorders (CSD) professionals and ASHA staff.
  • Speech Techie–this blog is about fostering language development through contextualized intervention. The author presents interactive educational technologies through a “language lens.”
  • Readeo–this website combines video chatting with interactive book reading for young children. It is designed to connect families through reading children’s books remotely. “Readeo lets you and your loved ones flip through the pages of a virtual book while seeing and talking to one another on-screen—just like if you were in the same room.”
  • The Hanen Centre–this program provides resources and training for professionals to help preschool children develop the best possible language, social, and literacy skills.
  • Apps for Speech-Language Pathology Practice–ASHA’s new section for school-based SLPs is a great starting point for more information regarding applications for technology and insurance funding.
  • Spectronics iPhone/iPad Apps for AAC–this is a comprehensive list of AAC applications for the iPhone/iPad. It contains a variety of apps that contain pictures and symbols only, text-to-speech, and text-based apps only.
  • 5 Classic Children’s  Tales Reinvented for the iPad–this article reviews interactive children’s books for the iPad. This new technology provides new opportunities for literacy engagement and a new learning tool.

These links were compiled from,, and some of my own research. I simply chose my favorite links and provided a brief annotated list to share.

What other resources do you recommend? Please share in the comments.

Michael Tanner, BS, is a graduate student at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon. With the support of his wife and family he is preparing to graduate in June and begin his career as a school-based SLP in the Fall.