Crafty Apps for Language-Based Therapy

It is no secret; I have never been a crafty person. During my days in graduate school I struggled a lot with the fact that many of my peers were able to spend hours creating these amazing therapy activities with glue and various types of paper. Yes, I did question my ability to become a speech therapist when I saw one of my colleagues bring the cupcakes she had baked at home along with all these amazing cupcakes decorations for the session. I clearly was not capable of such a thing!  Oh, and of course there are the scrap-booking SLPs! Clearly, I had no idea that SLPs had to dedicate hours preparing meals, buying scrap-booking materials and other tools for various “crafty therapy sessions”. In graduate school, I appealed to my technophile side to create my sessions around my computer. I know what you are thinking…  “What about the iPad?”. I didn’t even own an iPhone while in graduate school (and the iPad was still years from being invented). Today’s post is dedicated to all my fellow speech therapists and teachers who lack “craftiness” and want to be crafty on the iPad! Blessed be the iPad!

Here are some of my favorite apps for fun, creative, and open language based therapy sessions:

1. Art Maker by ABC’s Play School ( $0.99) – Prepositions, vocabulary and more.

This application allows you to create scenes by selecting from various background options and pieces of craft that go with the theme.  You can also pick from your own photos and add various pieces of provided objects and crafting materials to your photo (see how non-crafty I am based on the photo below). The images are added to your photos. For those of you feeling a little adventurous you can even make a movie as you move the items around the screen. You can use this app for promoting language skills and vocabulary. Prepositions (put the star on her shirt, put the tree next to the dog, etc.) is also a great target to use this app for.

Screenshot-2013.01.28-17.41.31-300x225

2. Martha Stewart Craft Studio ($4.99) – Story re-telling and sequencing in one place.

This app is worth every penny I spent on it, I just wish I had it 6 years ago! The Martha Stewart app is very easy to use and offers so many possibilities. It allowed a non-crafty person like me to create a scrapbook page! The app comes loaded with possibilities. You can take photos of the students during the session or send a letter to the parents to send some family photos with the kids for the upcoming session. It is an amazing way for working on retelling a story and it is perfect for those sessions with adults! After you create each page you can print and send it home with the child. This is by far a much more cost efficient way to do a crafting session.

Screenshot-2013.01.28-17.55.07-300x225

3. ScrapPad- Scrapbook for iPad ( Free + buy in app) – Vocabulary &  following directions at no cost.

This app is very similar to the Martha Stewart application. It has several background, stickers, borders and embellishments you can add to each page you create. Using this app can be great for vocabulary as well as for following directions. Just like the previous app, you can also save the final work onto your photos and print them when you are done.

Screenshot-2013.01.28-18.04.37-300x225

4. Hello Cupcakes (Free + buy in app) – Great app for following directions with amazing visual support.

This fourth app is truly a helping hand for those who want to do a real life cupcake but are not as talented as most of my former co-workers. The app comes with a baking tray which gives you information on which materials you will need to create the cupcakes. This app is just phenomenal; it includes step by step photos you can use for creating each cupcake. The cupcakes can be quite elaborate but this app has so many amazing visuals and it will guide you and your students to create quite the cupcake project. This is the perfect app to guide students, especially students who can benefit from visual support, for working on following directions. The app has amazing visual details. The buy in app options offer a variety of themed cupcake options too.

Screenshot-2013.01.28-18.12.23-300x225

It turns out that not only I can be crafty, but I love being crafty on the iPad! Should I call myself technocrafty?

Barbara Fernandes, M.S; CCC-SLP 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. She is an affiliate of ASHA Special Interest Groups 16, School-Based Issues, 12, Augmentative and Alternative Communication, and 1, Language Learning and Education. Barbara has created over 21 applications for the mobile devices for speech therapists. Find her at GeekSLP.com or on Twitter at @geekslp.

How to Use and Set up Guided Access on iOS 6.0

Apple never stops impressing me with their always evolving nature. With the release of iOS 6.0, one of the most anticipated features for the special education community is a well-designed accessibility feature called ” Guided Access”.

During my many presentations, I have seen therapists come up with creative ideas to get students to stop exiting a specific application by pressing the home button on their iPads. I have seen therapists use bub caps which reduce the sensitivity on the home button and even tongue depressors to make the child stay focused on one application. Those days are OVER! Apple has given us the guided access that allows adults to set up a password so that the iPad can stay on the same application and disable the home button from exiting the application without that password.  Do you want to know how to set up guided access? On today’s episode, GeekSLP TV #33, I demonstrate how to access, set up and use one feature that will help children learn and become more efficient in using their iPad for communication. Here is the episode for you:

(This post originally appeared on GeekSLP.com)

 

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.

 Going to the 2012 ASHA Convention? Barbara Fernandes will be presenting a short course on November 14 “The iPad and Your Therapy – Apps, Accessories, Accessibility and Features,” as well as sessions PC04 “The iPad & Your Therapy: Apps, Accessories, Accessibility, & Features (Invited)” and 1179 “Using Apps to Assess & Treat Articulation & Phonological Delays.”

Apps targeting Adults with Aphasia

On this episode, I have decided to focus on a few apps I know that target skills which have been impacted by a stroke leading to Aphasia. Individuals with aphasia experience difficulties in one or more modalities such as reading, writing, as well as speaking and auditory comprehension.

Many SLPs working in the hospital  or at the skilled nursing facility settings complain that the majority of the applications were designed for small children. While this is in fact true, today I will do a basic demo of a few apps I know were designed with the adult population in mind.

I believe Tactus is the starting point for those of you looking for apps for adults. Their website is www.tactustherapy.com.

 

 

Here is a list of the apps demonstrated on this episode:

Naming Therappy by Tactus Therappy

iName it by Smarty Ears

Language Therappy by Tactus Therapy

Small Talk by Lingraphica

 

(This post originally appeared on GeekSLP)

 

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.

 

Can Even “Cut the Rope” be Used for Promoting Language Skills?

 

This post is a follow up post on a very popular write up I did a few months back called ” Can even Angry Birds be used to promote language skills?“. If you are curious about the answer I would say about the popular game Angry birds and its relation to language skills, you can access the link and read it. For now, the task at hand is to introduce some of you to a new game I have caught myself playing many times throughout the week called “Cut the Rope”.

If you are not yet familiar with the game, cut the rope reminds me very much of Angry birds, as they are both apps that have a specific goal and a user can have many different strategies to reach the same goal. In Angry Birds, the goal is to remove all “pigs” from the scene with the least amount of birds; the goal on Cut the Rope is to use elements of physics to move a candy ball to a green monster’s mouth. Do not worry, this is a cute monster. Here is a video that shows what cut the rope is all about.

I am a big fan of utilizing fun, engaging activities to target any skills, of course as a speech therapist, I like it even more to use them to promote language skills. The best is that as kids are playing games, they won’t even necessarily need to know they are educational in any way. Cut the rope currently offers nine levels, each with 25 different activities that increase in complexity as you go. Since each new level, ads new tools you have new language, vocabulary and skills you can target with each new level. You can do all that by planning your sessions, envisioning all the great possibilities for learning, and just by being an professional who knows how to promote language learning.

As I played with the game I tried to identify potential goals and activities that can be implemented with cut the rope. Some are similar to what I have discussed on my post about Angry Birds, others are new and directly related to the items on the game.

Possible Activities/ Goals

1. Goal: use vocabulary to clearly describe  ideas, feelings, and experiences.

The vocabulary found on cut the rope increases with the levels. Here are some of the vocabulary that I was able to collect as I went through the different levels:

Verbs: cut, pull, drag, shoot, eat, release, move, point, wait, circling,

Nouns: candy, monster, rope, stars,length, level, strategy, air, circle, wheel, plunger.

Adjective: Long, short, hungry,  wrapped


The list of vocabulary is just a sample of possible words that can clearly be found on each level. You will be using the words often throughout reveal scenes, as your students also would as they play each level.

As for the activities… oh, this is my favorite part! You could have students describe each scene before completing them. Here is an example of all the language that could be used by your student to describe one of the scenes and steps to complete it:

 As the candy is moving up the screen wrapped in a bubble and it passes through the wheels I can tap on the wheel to shoot the plunger. When the plunger attaches to the candy and it can pop the bubble and let it fall to catch the stars on the way to the monster’s mouth.

Here the student was able to use vocabulary to clearly describe the level and you, a successful SLP!

2. Goal: Give, restate, and follow simple two-step directions.

There are several ways to work on this goal. The therapist can give students steps to complete the levels and the student has to follow the directions given orally to complete the level. It would be fun if sometimes you give wrong directions to double check that the student is really following your directions, not the intuitive  way to complete the level. If you have a group of students they can take turns giving each other one or two step directions, so while one student is working on following directions the other is working on giving directions.

3. Goal: Tell experiences in a logical order (chronological order, order of importance, spatial order).

This is one of the best app styles to work on telling experiences in a logical order as it offers several ways to reach the same end, and students can even talk about the different strategies they used to reach the same goal.

These are just three possible goals (also state standards) that can be targeted with Cut the Rope. I hope you enjoyed!

(This post originally appeared on GeekSLP)

 

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.

Maximizing the Performance of Your iPad by Closing Your Apps

Do I look tired? yeah! I guess this episode was recorded late at night and it shows. However, I think you will learn some good deal of information about closing down your apps from running in the background and therefore improving its performance.

 

 

(This post originally appeared on GeekSLP)

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.

iPhone 4S & Siri Personal Assistant : What’s in it for Speech Therapists and People with disabilities?

Siri for disability

Have you ever had trouble enjoying a day away from the house? The date was October 14th; my heart raced in agony and longing of home and this time it wasn’t because I missed my husband or dogs, it was because I was far away in California while my new brand new iPhone 4S sat patiently awaiting it’s techie mother back in Texas.

When the grueling heartache of the 14th was finally over, and the promise of finally seeing my new iPhone on the 15th, was a tangible dream, I rushed home from the airport to find my beautiful seek elegant iPhone 4S sitting on my table begging me to try out all of it’s new functions.

Some critics have been leery of the new iPhone being called the iPhone 4S, as opposed to the speculated “iPhone 5”, but the reality is that I do not care about what name it was given because it is definitely a huge upgrade from my previous phone iPhone 4; it is faster and it comes with a personal assistant! To paraphrase Shakespeare, “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”. I won’t be crying about nomenclature decisions when I have a handful of awesomeness at my fingertips, and that awesomeness starts with Siri.

Siri, is the name given by Apple to its voice activated personal assistant on the iPhone 4S; I named mine Jane. For those of you who do not own an iPhone 4S yet, Siri allows you to dictate almost anything and it will do its own research to get you the answers. You can speak what you want and Siri will transform your speech into text. Siri is quite impressive and I can only imagine where this technology is going and all of the future possibilities.

You can watch Apple’s video ( in which they show a person with visual impairment using Siri).

I was, however, wondering how “Jane”(AKA Siri) would respond to people with speech disabilities such as individuals who stutter, who have cerebral palsy or articulation delays.  I decided to test out Siri and here are my results:

Siri and foreign accents:

I am Brazilian, and I learned English 6 years ago, so my Portuguese accent is still here and I don’t think it is going anywhere. So, testing out Siri + Foreign accents was not an obstacle to me! ;-) I have to say I am quite impressed with Siri’s ability to understand my speech (almost as good as my husband’s speech). Siri had an accuracy rate of about 97% with my speech! Impressive! I noticed it had the biggest trouble when I tried to speak specific proper nouns such as street names and people’s names.

Faking accents:  I am also really good with trying to imitate other accents, especially accents that are much more marked than mine. Again, I am impressed! I dictated a complex sentence and Siri was about 80% accurate. I can see that the major issues can be recognizing the vowel, which often leads to transforming the word into something completely different.

The possibilities: I wonder if Siri could be implemented for accent reduction by alerting the user when specific vowels/ consonants are not pronounced as the standard English accent just like Rosetta Stone Language learning software. This would open up the possibilities for several apps that can give instant speech feedback.

 

Siri for people with speech impairments:

Stuttering:

I tested Siri using a variety of different types of stuttering moments. Here are the results I got from it:

Syllable repetitions: I tried “wh-wh-wh where are you?” ; Siri interestingly completed the syllables “Wh” and made it into a “what”: here is what was typed on my text: “What what what where are you.”

Word repetitions: Siri types everything you say, so if a person repeats the word three times Siri will just accept that as a meaningful repetition.

Prolongations: Siri does much better with prolongations than with syllable repetitions. I prolonged the “I” in “I love you” for 3 seconds and Siri was great! It understood the message “ I love you”.

Blocks: Siri respond to blocks just as pauses, which is great; it does not account for any of my attempts to imitate a block.

Interjections:  I used the interject “hum” three times in a sentence; out of those three times Siri ignored two times and substituted the third by “him”.

Articulation delays/Phonology:

Siri and the “r”: Siri does NOT like the substitution of “w” for “r”; it interprets as a completely different word. I said the following phrase “ The red/wed rabbit/wabbit went to play”, here is what I got typed: The wed web it went to play”.

I tested Siri at the word level for several specific articulation/phonological errors:

Gliding:

Street/stweet: sweet

Final consonant deletion:

Hai(hair): head

Helme(helmet) : helmet

Ketchu(ketchup): cat

Siri does much better at the phrase level than at the word level; because I believe it tries to get information from the following word to make sense of a phrase. For example:

I spoke “haven’t” without the “t” and I got the word “ Hey” ; then I said “haven’t seen” without the “ t” and Siri was able to compensate for my final consonant deletion well.

Fun with Siri: I wondered how Siri would respond to my dogs’ bark. Well, it interpreted my dogs barking to “where where where where”. I wonder is that is what they are really saying. Maybe Siri is the new dog translator!?? I can only wish and hope for that in a future iOS update.

 

(This post originally appeared on GeekSLP)

 

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.

FaceTime calls on iPad are HIPAA compliant

 

You heard it right! FaceTime calls are HIPAA compliant. In an age in which privacy laws often become burdensome to healthcare providers, it is so refreshing to be able to share this exciting news. While I have never done telepractice myself, I am an iPad user and recently used FaceTime to discuss a new app development project with another SLP up in Canada. I loved it!  As an SLP and an iPad geek, I could not help but to want to share this with you guys.

FaceTime is a video calling service that runs on Apple devices such as the iPad and iPhone that allow video conferencing. Just like any other function on the iPad, it opens the door  to a host of new possibilities. The front camera make it the perfect way to communicate  with others who also use Apple devices. When the iPad 2 camera was announced I remember thinking about all the possibilities for therapy. The fact that video conferences are encrypted using HIPAA standards just reinforces the iPad’s status as  my favorite toy of all time.

Now why should SLPs care?

The  Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) requires that electronic health care transactions are designed to keep patient records secure to protect patient privacy. Speech-Language Pathologists who deliver services at a distance can now use FaceTime to deliver their services if the patient owns an iPad and/or iPhone. The delivery of services at a distance is also known as telepractice. ASHA defines telepractice as “the application of telecommunications technology to delivery of professional services at a distance by linking clinician to client, or clinician to clinician, for assessment, intervention, and/or consultation.” So in order to follow HIPAA guidelines for telepractice, SLPs have to use a service that has been encrypted (which is the case with FaceTime)

Besides using FaceTime for service delivery, SLPs can also now be sure that they can “face call” their co-workers to consult on a case. The uses are immense!

Now, in order to be fully HIPAA compliant, SLPs must make sure that their wireless connection utilizes WPA2 Enterprise security with 128-bit AES.  WPA2 is a security protocol that was develop to protect the information that goes in and out of your computer using your wireless signal. Here is a well-written article on how to WPA2 Enterprise your Home.

This is definitely great news, and just one more reason why the iPad is transforming service delivery in speech therapy.

For additional information on Telepractice you can visit the ASHA website.

 

(This post originally appeared on GeekSLP)

 

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.

Gaming into Education: Can Even Angry Birds Promote Learning?

(This post originally appeared on GeekSLP)

Opportunities for teaching and learning are everywhere. Language is also everywhere. Given this scenario, it drives me crazy when I hear someone say: “this is a horrible tool”; “I don’t know how this could be used for teaching”,or  ”this is just a game”.

I have always been an advocate to the fact that a good teacher and a good speech therapists will not need specific tools to teach students. Well, specific tools that do the work for you are great because they guide us on the teaching experience; however, we must not forget that a tool is JUST a tool and it was not designed to replace you as a therapist or a teacher.(Please note I am not at all discrediting the advantages of apps for learning ; as I have created 21 of them myself).

The explosion of apps for children with special needs, has pushed us to want tools that do more and betters things all the time. I am afraid we may be forgetting to use our creativity to transform any “useless” app into a great tool for learning. It all starts with the need to motivate the students to want to learn; what better way to do that than using something that already draws their attention? I have decided to start this series on “from useless to learning apps” with one of the biggest game apps of all times: Angry Birds!

If you are not already hooked into Angry Birds, or are afraid of loosing your prestige because you downloaded it, you may find a good excuse for downloading it or owning it on this post. The idea behind Angry Birds is that the birds need to hit the pigs to move on to the next level. You may have noticed that in order to win the greatest number of stars you may need some strategic thinking prior to sending your birds out there.

I see that Angry Birds can be used in so many different ways to teach students new vocabulary, the use of coherent language, basic question/answering skills and even story telling skills. You will just need to adjust the level of scaffolding needed to get into the skills you are trying to get into.

As a parent, instead of prohibiting your child from playing the game, consider having activities your child needs to complete prior to or after moving on to the next level.

Here are some ideas I was able to come up with on how even Angry Birds can be used to promote learning.

1. If your student/child is already familiar with Angry Birds, get him to explain the whole game to you. If you are working on writing skills, this can even be a written assignment.

Imagine all that can be worked on just from having a student describe the whole concept behind Angry Birds! You can even have some “food for thought” kind of questions such as:

Why do you think the creators picked birds as main characters?“,

Do all birds work the same way?“,

” What is the goal of the game?”

“Why do you like Angry Birds?”

There are several questions that can be used to get students to use language just by talking about the game itself.

2. You and the child can play one or several levels together; however the child has to describe their strategy to getting to the pig prior to playing the level. If you are with a group of students; how about having each student think out their strategies separately and get them to discuss which strategy is best and then put into action?

You could even have a list of vocabulary words you would like the student to use when describing their strategies such as:

a. Verbs such as : deploy the egg (the white birds have to deploy the egg at the appropriate time); pull back, drop, explode, fly, fall, hit,

b.  Different adverbs when describing the order of the birds and their actions;

c. Lots of different prepositions to guide where exactly the birds must land, and also how the objects and barriers are being arranged;

d. Adjective: used when describing the areas & targets in which the birds must land.

Maybe students can take turns to guide each other  using key words to complete the levels.

3. Select a level and ask the student to play it once, then ask them to describe their strategies verbally or create a written material that describes their strategies.

When teaching students to describe activities using coherent language (a skills that can be very limited in children with language disorders) we want them to follow an order…” you first did this.. then that”. You can use each level on Angry Birds to teach that skill. The game has an order in which things happen. You can guide students to describe it step by step which you guide them. You can both sit together to reproduce the steps he describe on the same level and even think out better ways to achieve the same goal.

There are tons of other ways in which Angry Birds can be used to promote language learning. These were just a few examples of how creativity can have more weight than the specific tool you have in front of you. In the end it is all about how you decide to use it. I will be back on this with more ” from useless to teaching app”. In the end it is all about how YOU choose to use the tool that makes the difference! Think about that. ;-)

 

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.

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.

Calling all SLPs and teachers to update the iOS system on their iPads & iPods

(This post originally appeared on GeekSLP)

The iPad, iPhone and iPod touch run an operational system called the iOS system. This is the system that allows you to run apps and perform all functions on your device. It comes pre-installed on your devices when you purchase it from the Apple store.

It is very important that you keep your iOS system up to date in order to have apps run smoothly and also take advantage of the enhancements  and the possible bug fixes provided by Apple.

Updating your iOS system is FREE

While most apps will work on older versions of the iOS system, keeping an up-to date update will guarantee you best performances.

In fact, some apps also do not work on older iOS versions (e.g 3.1); therefore you will not be allowed to purchase the app from the app store. First let’s learn how to identify which version of the iOS system you are running on your device.

1. Identifying the iOS system on your device:

1st. Go to the setting area on your device and click on “General”:

2nd. Under the “General” menu, click on ” About”:

3rd. Under the “About” menu you will see the information you are looking for under the “Version“.

On this example you can see I have the Version 4.3.2 of the iOS system; which is the most most up to date version as of 4/23/2011.

2. Understand app’s iOS requirements

Now that you know how to identify which version you have, now let’s learn about the fact that some apps do not support older version of the iOS system.

When you are purchasing an app from the app store you will notice that the app has several requirements, one of them is compatibility with iOS systems. Take fore example the number one, best selling educational application: Star Walk for iPad ; it requires that you have the iOS 3.2 in order to run this app. See image below:

Notice that the app requires that you have iOS 3.2 or later; if you have anything older the app will not install. Another example is an AAC app called Expressive:

As you can see, Expressive requires that users have the version 3.1.4 or older in order to run the app on the devices.

Now that you know how to identify your iOS system, and understand that some apps will not run on older versions of the iOS system; you will need to know how to update it. This is the easy part of the whole story.

3. Updating your iOS system

You will need to connect your device ( iPhone, iPod or iPad) to your computer to update it.

1. Plug your device

2. Open iTunes

3. Select your device and make sure you are under the ” Summary” section.

4. Click on “Check for Update”.

You are all done!

I hope it helps… Now go update your device

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.