AVAZ Pro is an outstanding AAC app designed for children on the Autism spectrum and those with complex communication needs. The app was developed in collaboration with 25 schools and 500 children to help those with autism achieve the most effective communication possible.
As with most AAC apps, there are highly customizable settings for editing page lay-out, vocabulary, icons, and folders. The home page is your starting point. You can select from 1 to 40 pictures to be shown on the screen per page depending on the child’s communication level or visual limitations. There are 3 pre-set levels (1: 15 pics, 2: 24 pics, 3: 40 pics) to help customize the board to your child’s needs. Symbolstix icons (similar to Board Maker) are used to illustrate the concept of each button. The buttons are color coded by parts of speech (i.e. verbs are green).
The home page gives access to several commonly used words (yes/no, I, you, want) and folders which are organized by category (i.e. people, food, things, places, actions). One folder has “quick” pre-set phrases while another has a set of topics including the child’s interests and hobbies. Access to a set of core words can be found on the menu to the right of the main button layout. As always, these folders and buttons can be easily edited according to the child’s needs and interests. Under settings, you can adjust the format of the screen (number of buttons per page from 1-40), what is spoken (each word selected vs only the message box), size of pictures/text, zoom preferences, color coding, and prediction settings.
The format is user-friendly and intuitive. There are over 15,000 vocabulary words with accompanying Symbolstix pictures. The app is one of the easiest to edit and customize that I have seen. It has a Settings Wizard allowing you to enter personal information about the child which then configures the buttons to those preferences (name/age, current communication level, audio-vis or motor needs). The ability to easily add and edit buttons is another big plus. You can easily add photos of people and items in the child’s environment as well as search the web directly from the app for additional pictures.
When a button is selected, it zooms in and speaks the word and then shows up in the message box. You can string together several words for more complex utterances. When the message is complete, the entire utterance can be spoken aloud by tapping on the message box. If a mistake is made, you can easily delete a single word at a time by tapping the delete button or erase the entire message box by double clicking it.
There are several voices to choose from and the rate of speech can be adjusted as well. In addition, there are over 30 different accents/dialects to choose from including Spanish, French, Chinese, and Italian which speak the English words in those accents.
The search function is very valuable when wanting to explore vocabulary options or find a specific word. You can also easily switch from picture buttons to keyboard by pressing the button to the left of the message box. The predictive function on the keyboard is unparalleled. Several word choices are presented as each letter is typed anticipating the word. I love how it provides several different verb forms to help promote grammatically correct utterances. For example, if I manually type in “eat”, the following verb forms are presented as options: eat, eating, eaten eats.
One of the most challenging obstacles of introducing a new AAC device to a child is becoming oriented with the location of all the buttons and teaching them how to use the device to communicate effectively. It is often difficult enough for the Speech Pathologist to become familiar with and edit an AAC device, not to mention the caregivers and child who may have no previous experience with this format. This app makes this task a little less daunting.
One of the features that truly sets this app apart from other AAC apps is the Dashboard. This feature provides strategies to help integrate the use of AAC into the child’s daily activities. Under this tab, you will find activities to help practice conversations and learn strategies to help expand and develop your child’s communication abilities. There are 10 scenarios provided in which to practice guided conversations which help you become acclimated to the location of word buttons. For example, in the “Conversation about pain” section, you can practice formulating such statements as “My head hurts”, “I want water please”, and “Do you want help?” The app takes you step-by-step through the path needed to select all the appropriate words. Visual cues such as an arrow or wiggling button give prompts as needed. You can even view a pull-down menu of the entire path needed to complete the utterance. This practice mode is an ingenious and essential tool for orientation to the location of buttons in order to increase the ease and efficiency of communication.
In addition to practicing specific sentences, there is a tutorial for using strategies to help expand your child’s communication abilities via conversation practice. It provides a scenario and then prompts the caregiver to choose the best statement from 2-3 choices to help move the conversation forward without overwhelming the child. It prompts the communication partner to ask specific yes/no questions to eliminate options, use self-talk, and expand on the child’s utterances. This tutorial guides caregivers through the appropriate conversation skills they should be using with their child to maximize the effectiveness of the AAC app.
You can even customize specific phrases you would like to practice and model under the “My sentences” tab. If you wanted to practice the sentence “I want to go to Grandma’s house”, the tutorial simplifies the sentence to “I want go Grandma’s house” and then walks you through the steps, prompting as necessary, to locate each folder and button to complete the phrase.
There is an Analytics tab which keeps track of the child’s vocabulary development and word use. You can view the most frequently used words as compared to the all words used. It also gives an estimate of the average length of sentences spoken (MLU) over a period of time which you can set the dates for. This is an excellent resource for keeping track of your child’s communication development over time.
A wealth of information can be found under the Resources tab, where there are well over 120 tips provided to help increase the effectiveness of using the AAC device. There are also internet links to web pages and research articles supporting the use of AAC. An intro video to the app can be found under the help tab in this section.
Another unique feature is the ability to print vocabulary pages to be used as a book. This would allow the option to laminate pages for use near water (bath, pool) without the threat of damaging the device. With a little pre-planning, there is no need to let any situation which may prohibit the use of electronic devices limit the child’s ability to communicate.
The most recent update to the app introduced the ability to access a teletherapy call with Avaz Live. The developers are clearly determined to make improvements for an even better experience using their app. The amount of user support located on their website and within the app itself is impressive as well. Besides videos explaining specific features, there are slide tutorials guiding you through picture vs keyboard mode, customization, and the settings.
This app truly grows with your child as there are 3 grades of core-words based vocabulary presented in a predictable and intuitive format. The vocab is structured to promote increasingly complex exchanges beyond just requesting items. While the caregiver tutorial fosters a scaffolding approach to expanding a child’s utterance. The app also stimulates literacy development by using both symbols and words. When the child is ready, he can transition over to using the keyboard for input all while keeping the picture option easily accessible.
AVAZ Pro has set the standard for what an AAC app should be. From the indispensable tutorials and caregiver support, to the predictive text and analytics, AVAZ Pro is one of the most intuitive and innovative AAC apps I’ve seen to date. I highly recommend this exceptional app to support the communication of those without a voice.
Avaz Pro - AAC app for Autismby Avaz, Inc.
Category: Education, Medical
Requirements: Compatible with iPad2Wifi-iPad2Wifi, iPad23G-iPad23G, iPadThirdGen-iPadThirdGen, iPadThirdGen4G-iPadThirdGen4G, iPadFourthGen-iPadFourthGen, iPadFourthGen4G-iPadFourthGen4G, iPadMini-iPadMini, iPadMini4G-iPadMini4G, iPadAir-iPadAir, iPadAirCellular-iPadAirCellular, iPadMiniRetina-iPadMiniRetina, iPadMiniRetinaCellular-iPadMiniRetinaCellular, iPadAir2-iPadAir2, iPadAir2Cellular-iPadAir2Cellular, iPadMini3-iPadMini3, iPadMini3Cellular-iPadMini3Cellular, iPadMini4-iPadMini4, iPadMini4Cellular-iPadMini4Cellular, iPadPro-iPadPro, iPadProCellular-iPadProCellular, iPadPro97-iPadPro97, iPadPro97Cellular-iPadPro97Cellular, iPad611-iPad611, iPad612-iPad612, iPad71-iPad71, iPad72-iPad72, iPad73-iPad73, iPad74-iPad74
Size: 1070.82 MB
Screenshots for iPad(Click to enlarge)
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Shari is a married mother of four from Illinois. She works as a speech pathologist in a rehab setting and loves to use apps in therapy. She is a self-proclaimed “Appaholic”- always on the look out for great apps!