There’s an app for that…
There is a vast world of communication apps and digital tools out there—a world that evolves and changes every day. Many of these tools and applications are specifically designed for caregivers, patients with neurodegenerative conditions like ALS, and their families.
At SimpliHere, we strive to help you make the most of your time, and we are excited to provide this year’s list of our favorite communication apps, across price ranges, that we feel are practical, useful, and innovative.
LetMeTalk is a free augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) talker app that leverages more than 9,000 easy-to-understand images from ARASAAC (www.arasaac.org)—and allows you to add your own images. Users line up rows of images in a meaningful way to read as sentences. You do not need to be connected to wifi to use the app, so it works in most settings regardless of internet access. LetMeTalk supports several languages, and since users can switch between languages easily and quickly, it can also be used as a translator.
Patient Communicator (Free)
The Patient Communicator app, designed by the Society of Critical Care Medicine, helps ease the stress of caregiving and/or hospital stays. The app features large buttons to easily communicate about pain, moods, and needs; a diary feature; a glossary of terms; and other education materials for patients and families, and as it supports 18 languages, it can serve as a translator to allow two-way communication.
Yes, we are plugging our own app here—but SimpliHere really is one of the most comprehensive and very best apps out there for patients, caregivers, and families living with ALS. Really, it is! Through a simple interface, the app focuses on one-click and voice-activated communications, connection to communities (forums, a tool to streamline communications with caregivers and families, and others), and provides access to valuable resources (news updates, products, and other services) to help manage daily life with ALS.
The app also features Louise, a personal voice assistant, alongside a one-click option that allows patients and caregivers to request a variety of actions or ask questions related to ALS and connects users with options to voice bank.
Also, an announcement! We are also thrilled to share that we are working on a new – and even better-looking -improved version of our app that we’ll be reaching out to our community about in the coming months—we want you to help us beta test it! Keep an eye on our blog for an upcoming announcement about beta testing opportunities.
Assistive Express ($24.99)
The biggest challenge for AAC device users is the number of keystrokes or touches required to construct sentences, so having a conversation can take a significant amount of time. Assistive Express is simple and efficient, allowing users to express themselves quickly with three natural-sounding voice options. The app uses word prediction, and it “learns” as you use it, adding your own vocabulary into the word prediction list. You can save commonly and recently used phrases in “favorites” and “recent” lists. Font size, volume, and screen orientation are adjustable, and users can easily share to Twitter, Facebook, email, etc.
MyTalkTools Mobile Lite (free lite version; premium lifetime version is $74.99)
The only solution that simultaneously supports browsers, Apple Watch, Apple TV, iPhone, iPad and iTouch, MyTalk helps users, teachers, therapists, caregivers, and parents with an easy-to-use button system to express desires, needs, and thoughts. Easy to download, startup, and backup, the app does not require an internet connection and includes a wide range of in-app additions that can be purchased, including features for visual impairment and other physical limitations, such as auditory scanning and fine motor adjustments, and many others.
Last year, we reviewed the more expensive version of this app, Proloquo2Go, a symbol-based AAC app designed around the concept of “core words” that make up 80% of our vocabulary. This version, Proloquo4Text, can be used to produce speech by anyone who is able to type and spell. The layout can be customized and enables easy daily conversation and quick access to the user’s most common phrases Users can create, save, and organize commonly used phrases and make typing quicker with advanced, self-learning PolyPredix™ word prediction.
The app offers a range of natural sounding text-to-speech voices in 18 languages, and users can add personality and humor with free specialty voices. Additionally, use-my-own-voice, a voice-banking technology, captures and preserves the essence of your own voice in synthetic speech.
Despite its name, TalkTablet PRO for Autism & Aphasia, developed by a longtime leader in speech software, was first released in 2012 and is one of the premier reasonably priced, AAC solutions for children and adults with all communication difficulties. The button-based system offers up to 48 buttons per page, and a high degree of customization for button design based on user preferences and needs.
Users can choose from more than 30,000 symbols (the world’s largest AAC library), or take photos with the device’s camera, use photos from your album, or add Google images to user-created buttons. The app includes natural sounding voices in multiple languages, or users can use the included audio recording function to record voices or sounds to associate with their buttons. Built-in off-site backup and restore features safeguard your pages and the app includes free updates, customer service and support for life.
Learn more about the various resources for ALS patients and how SimpliHere uses augmentative and alternative communications to help both patients and caregivers.
SimpliHere simplifies caregiving for those impacted by ALS and other neurodegenerative diseases. Through a mobile app and personal voice assistant, patients and caregivers can easily communicate, manage daily life, and stay connected with one another. The mission of SimpliHere is to help patients and families face the overwhelming nature of ALS by helping them to communicate basic needs, easily reach caregivers, and find comfort with other individuals sharing the same challenges. SimpliHere encourages patients and families to raise their voices and contribute valuable information to medical communities to help advance critical research on neurodegenerative diseases, including ALS – with the ultimate goal of wiping out the disease once and for all.