Saturday, March 23, 2013

Apraxia Ville by Smarty Ears

This is a post I wrote for AppAbled that should be coming out in the next few days.

Old MacDonald’s place is probably the most famous farmstead but it doesn’t have anything on the spread over at Apraxia Ville. Smarty Ears has rolled out another awesome app. This time it is centered on the farm. As the name suggests Apraxia Ville is an app that is designed for children with childhood apraxia or has severe phoneme production difficulties.

Apraxia Ville is compatible with the iPad and requires iOS 5.0 or later. It is designed to be used with single or up to four users in a group setting. Student set up is similar to other Smarty Ears apps. Students can be entered individually by clicking on “New Player” and entering their name and choosing a picture or avatar or by importing this information from Therapy Report Center.

There are three different activities located in the app. The first activity is called “The Sound Windows.” This is designed to practice sound production. When the activity opens, you see two barn windows with an avatar of a boy in one and a girl in the other. The male avatar represents the consonants while the female avatar represents the vowels. When the avatar is tapped, you see and hear the production of the consonant or vowel. The simulation can be slowed down to view how the articulators are used to produce the phoneme or vowel sound by slowly sliding the “red pepper” shaped slider underneath the avatar. Consonant or vowel sounds can be changed by touching on the letter and using the wheel in the dialogue box that appears to choose the new sound. A unique feature is available in the “The Sound Windows” activity if you are accessing the app on an iPad 3 or higher. You can tap on the camera icon located next to the consonant or vowel avatar to utilize the camera as a mirror so the student can see themselves producing the phoneme.

Activity number two is called “The Farm House.” It is designed to provide practice with single syllable words. Once again this activity can be used for individual users or groups up to four in size. Whether you are accessing the activity with one or more than one players, it is necessary to choose a level of play for each player. Level one is designed for practice of consonant vowel and vowel consonant words. Level two is for students that need to practice consonant vowel consonant words. Apraxia Ville also allows you to choose the twelve groups of phonemes that you need to work on and it allows you to customize which vowel sounds and whether it is a short or a long vowel. If a user has accessed “The Farm House” before, you can use the ‘tap on a button” feature that allows you to automatically set everything to the previously level. Once the activity is opened, you will see a barn with the front doors swung open. In the doorway is a picture that contains the target phonemes. You can hear the word being pronounced by taping on the picture. Cupolas are located on top of the barn. Each cupola represents a user. The active user cupola contains a red, yellow and green stop above it to be accessed for data collection purposes. Changing between various users is easily accomplished by taping on the appropriate avatar in one of the cupolas. The images in the open barn door change automatically to what sound group was chosen for that user. The barns windows are filled with the avatars from the from “The Sound Windows” activity. The same information described earlier in this review can be accessed from this location as well. Finally a record and playback feature is also located on the page to allow users to record their production of the word and play it back to help in learning to self-monitor their speech.

The third and final activity in the Apraxia Ville apps is called “The Words Farm” and its focus is on practicing sets of words. Like the other activities in Apraxia Ville, you are able to play up to four players using the app together. They practice sets of words involving specific phonemes and patterns. It can be customized to practice two or three sets of words at a time. Pictures containing the appropriate phonemes and word patterns are presented in windows that can be quickly changed out. Users can hear the words in the group pronounced correctly by taping on the green pay button. They are also able to record and playback their own production for self-monitoring. Data collection is available and takes place in a similar format to “The Farm House” activity.

At the end of “The Farm House” and “The Words Farm” activities comprehensive data reports are available. They provide the following information; date of session, duration of session, number of participants, activity, target phonemes, syllable structure, and accuracy.  These reports are printable or can be emailed or exported to Therapy Report Center.

A feature that I love that is unique to Apraxia Ville is also located on the Reports and Prizes page. A button called “Homework” is available. It allows you to access a homework file based on the phoneme and word pattern that is being worked on. The homework is automatically generated and can be printed or emailed to the student’s parents to work on outside of the therapy setting.

If you access the settings feature you are able to customize word lists to your student and/or area. The lists are easily saved and neatly arranged for quick access at a later time.

Apraxia Ville is a great tool for educational and clinical speech language pathologists. It provides numerous additional ways for the individual with childhood apraxia or a severe sound production problem to work on improving phoneme production. For the reasonable cost, it is well worth the money.

What I Like About the App
·         Provide visual and auditory support for the learners.
·         Contains a nice variety of activities.
·         Built in data collection
·         Provides a homework component
·         Recording and playback feature is available to work on self-monitoring.

What I Would Like to See In Future Updates
·         Continue to add additional activities slowly.

Support For Apraxia Ville And All Smarty Ears Apps Can Be Found At