Speech Button AAC App

Speech Button is an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) app for people who are non-verbal or have difficulty speaking. It was born out of a collaboration of ideas between two practicing therapists, Carole (School Psychologist/Board Certified Behavior Analyst) & Nancy (Speech-Language Pathologist),  who increasingly weave technology into their daily clinical practice.

Speech Button was created to  help individuals who are non-verbal or have difficulty speaking (e.g., apraxia) communicate their basic wants and needs.

It is comprehensive enough to be used as a  primary communication system for some; or, as a springboard to a more complex system of speech generating applications in the future.

  • Available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch
  • Once downloaded, it is ready to use!
  • Can be presented in single-word format, word-pairs, or 4 words per page, depending on the cognitive needs of the individual.
  • Recorded voice with excellent speech clarity and voice quality. This includes careful attention to enhanced prosody (or intonation) to provide an optimal speech model for the AAC user.
  • Easily navigate from page to page by touching the bars located at each side of the screen or the ‘home’ page button. (It has been reported that for individuals with special needs, the touch activation is preferable over the ‘swipe’ action generally used with mobile devices).
  • Clear and simple visuals can meet the needs of people with a wide range of cognitive, visual, and attention challenges.

Speech Button has been featured on Village Gamer: http://www.villagegamer.net/2012/03/03/new-speech-button-app-gives-voice-to-many/

Click on image to download Speech Button:



What is AAC?

AAC is the acronym for “Augmentative and Alternative Communication.” In our own words, AAC can be described as a system of communication used by people who are non-verbal or who have difficulty speaking.

An AAC system may include one or all of the following:

  • natural (residual/functional) speech,
  • gestures/body language,
  • sign language,
  • visual symbols (e.g., photos, line drawings), and
  • speech generating devices

Usually, a speech-language pathologist plays a central role in:

  1. teaching AAC skills,
  2. assessing and determining AAC needs, and
  3. providing ongoing training and support for communication partners as well as the AAC user.

Interestingly, with the swell of apps and iPad technology, the field of AAC is currently undergoing an unprecedented and unyielding change that is leaving AAC professionals and AAC users alike scrambling to keep up!

Will using an AAC app stop a child from learning to speak?

In our clinical experience, this has been the most common and least understood question.  The short answer is “no”.   Explained further, there is research over the last three decades which  discredits the common assumption that using a speech generating device (also known as voice output communication aide or VOCA) with a child who is non-verbal will prevent the child from developing natural speech.  This is simply not true.  In fact, there are several studies which have concluded that the use of AAC correlated with increased spoken language skills for many children.

If you would like to do your own research, we might suggest starting here. You will find a grid of common ‘myths’ along with references of past studies. It offers insight into the common misconceptions associated with the impact of AAC use on natural speech development.  It is presented in an easy-to-digest format.

*Please note:  It is always recommended that you consult with a speech-language pathologist (SLP) for individualized assessment, treatment, and/or consultation with regard to one’s communication skills and needs.  Contact your local speech-language and hearing association to find an SLP near you.

Do I have to spend time programming Speech Button? 

No –  Speech Button is ready to use… RIGHT NOW!  While there is certainly a time and place for customizing a communication system for an individual, our aim with this app is unique because it was designed by a speech-language pathologist and school psychologist who have the clinical experience to identify the most frequently used messages by individuals with beginning communication needs.

We recognized the need to have a ready-made app that can be used with beginning users of augmentative and alternative communication, and their communication partners (i.e., adults who are fostering communication skills with their child/student).

Who can benefit from Speech Button?

Speech Button was created for individuals who have difficulty speaking (i.e.,  either non-verbal or low-verbal skills) and are at an early level of communication development.  Communication difficulties are often experienced by individuals with diagnoses such as: autism spectrum disorder, Down Syndrome, Cerebral palsy, global developmental delay, apraxia of speech,  intellectual disability, and many other neurological conditions which affect one’s ability to talk.

Why is it important for children to use AAC?

Very often, we see behavior challenges in those who cannot communicate their wants or needs in any other way except by screaming, crying, self-injury, or physical aggression towards others.  In our wealth of clinical experience and our knowledge of developmental language and cognition, we are confident that many of the behavior challenges our children/students show have the potential to be reduced when that person has another way to communicate his/her needs, wants, and desires.

What makes Speech Button different from all the other AAC apps out there?

Speech Button is a ready to use app created by an experienced SLP and School Psychologist/Board Certified Behavior Analyst working  in the field of special education/special needs. It was created with AAC users, parents, and professionals in mind.  One of the primary advantages of Speech Button is its clear and simple voice recordings and pictures.

Why does the Speech Button app have different levels?

Think of Level 1 as your starting block.  Each message button fills the entire page, with opportunity to navigate through 6 different messages that have been carefully selected to provide multiple opportunities to use the message.

Each subsequent level takes the leap to 2, 4, and 24 messages on a single page.

For example, Level 3 takes the leap to 4 messages on a single page.  These pages are excellent for use in a home or school  setting.  In this level, you will discover pages designed for the primary activities in a child’s various settings including meal time, circle time and play time.

In addition, this app features common messages that allow individuals to express their basic wants and needs — and are in direct correlation with behavior challenges when the individual does not have the ability to communicate these needs  in any other way.  Messages include: help, more, all done, bathroom, (want to) eat, (need a) drink, (I feel) sick.


A must-have app!      by SLP-That’s me on Friday, March 30 2012 version 1.2

“An essential app for anyone who has or who works with a non-verbal child. It’s the “little black dress” of AAC apps — a must-have!”

Impressive!!       by SpecEdTeacher on Thursday, March 29 2012 version 1.2

“Great app clearly developed by people in the Special Education field! Surpassed my expectations! Have been using Speech Button with my students with great success! Please develop more apps like this one!”

Brilliant App        by AMPJ15 on Friday, March 02 2012 version 1.0

“This is an excellent tool for children – its very easy to use, the voice is very clear and the images are bright!”

I think this will help kids           by Jonathan Joyce on Saturday, February 18 2012 version 1.0

“A simple, yet effective tool!”

Amazing Results        by Ho JO on Tuesday, February 14 2012 version 1.0

“Truly an amazing app – easy to use with great results…and compared to the others the price is right on the mark – buy this and you won’t be disappointed..love it.”

Perfect!     by Jacqueline90210 on Friday, February 10 2012 version 1.0

“It is great to see an app like this out there to help our little ones who have trouble speaking. Easy to use! Thank you.”

Excellent simple very needed app!     by CanadaVan on Friday, March 02 2012 version 1.0

“This is the perfect app for getting started with a non verbal client without having to program anything. The graphics are nice  and simple, clear voice output and exactly the vocabulary needed to get communication started!”

Good App!          by Cgregoryrun on Monday, February 27 2012 version 1.0

“I played with this and also purchased the full version. It’s well made.  The voice output is clean.The full-version comes with more  cells. I didn’t feel cheated by price after full version. If you have fiddled with many $10 and under AAC apps, you know they can be very disappointing, but this app does what it says and is well done!”

Great app!!        by Mom&S-LP on Thursday, March 01 2012 version 1.0

“A professionally developed, convenient, and cost effective way to reduce a child’s (who is having difficulty speaking) frustration and immediately improve his or her communication with caregivers and others. It is so simple, once you download it, you are ready to go!”


Here’s what people are saying about Speech Button…

“My 3 year old is non-verbal and has autism. Can’t wait to try this out with him.”  Renée L’Heureux-Cucksey

“Very easy app for simple AAC. I will recommend to friends! Looking forward to what you create next!”  Cynthia Gregory from cgregoryrun.blogspot.com

“This (is) a great app you have developed. The article of how it came to be is so interesting. It means so much more when you know a bit about the developers. Congratulations – I am downloading it now.”  Veronika Walshe

“My Mom works with kids with developmental disabilities… She said it was more accessible than the (other) programs they had used; and solved some of the problems they had with them. Specifically, the flow of your interface was more intuitive. Nice job!” Andy Rising