Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Review: iRecognize - app designed for SLPs
Bottom Line: An app designed for speech-language pathologists working with clients with aphasia. Professionals will appreciate the ability to design any kind of exercise needed for older students and adults. Lite version available to test it out.
If you would like to purchase iRecognize ($49.99, iPad Only) or try the Lite version (Free, iPad Only), please use our links:
While most of the apps we review or feature on Smart Apps for Kids are useful for parents, teachers, and therapists, this one is designed specifically with the professional in mind. iRecognize provides a flexible tool for the SLP working with older students or adults on vocabulary comprehension, recall of names, listening and memory.
Richard Dressler, an Associate Professor and Director of the Acquired Brain Injury Resource Program at Western Kentucky University, (where I did my graduate work) developed iRecognize as a tool to create specialized exercises for speech-language therapy. It was designed to assist with therapy for adults with aphasia, to target specific skills such as vocabulary comprehension, memory recall, and face recognition, all areas often impacted by aphasia. Aphasia is a communication disorder most often associated with stroke or traumatic brain injury.
The app comes preloaded with a set of cards possibly familiar to SLPs in rehabilitation settings—the Language Activities Resource Kit (LARK) from Pro-Ed, Inc. (also by Richard Dressler). They feature common objects and actions, clearly photographed on a plain background to minimize competing features. These 51 images are used in five different exercises: actions, category, listening, reading, and talking.
In the listening task, the pictures are presented with an auditory cue; the client can tap the card that matches the spoken word. A visual cue of the written word is also provided—this can be turned off, if desired, by accessing the therapist section. The Reading section presents one picture and multiple single words in order to match the word to the picture. The talking exercise, on the other hand, simply presents a picture to be labeled (auditory prompts can be turned off, or left on to provide a model).
These preloaded exercises can be further customized, by choosing the type of prompt, image, label, reinforcement, and number of choices. In addition, the user can add images from online or from the photo gallery. This is really the true strength of this app. With a little time, an SLP can customize an exercise specifically for an individual client, or design an exercise for frequently targeted goals. This customization is all done in the Therapist Administration page, which is hidden behind a login with a set password. This is an extra layer of security not often found, and is definitely useful when used by the SLP.
The app is useful for children, too, in much the same way that the Tactus Therapy apps have found a following with our readers. Without too much effort, I made two exercises for students on my caseload, targeting inferences and descriptive words. I added photos by searching on Google Images—a picture can easily be added to the photo gallery by holding down on the desired photo. This made them easy to add to exercises within the app. On a picture of a child blowing out birthday candles, I recorded a question "Why is he blowing out the candles?" Similar questions were added to a man skydiving, throwing a ball while wearing a uniform, and swimming underwater.
The interface is simple, not as polished as other apps, and the picture resolution is not as crisp as normally seen on the iPad. However, when working in a therapeutic setting, the simple interface is often a positive feature. There is nothing visible to the client that could be distracting, simply the pictures, a visual cue if desired, a replay button to replay the audio prompt, and a button to end the exercise.
There are a few features I've come to appreciate in apps that I would like to see added. I would appreciate a mute button easily accessible on the exercise screen, to allow for changing the prompt level without having to enter the administration page. There were also some written prompt cards with text that was not fully visible, such as the card that said "Shine it in the…" while the prompt heard was, "Shine it in the dark." I also wished for a record button on the Talking section, to fully utilize the iPad's functionality.
In addition, after an answer is chosen, the correct choice card is magnified to emphasize the correct choice. This is a great feature, but I wished for a pause button. Sometimes I want to stop to discuss with a student, and it's not possible because the next verbal cue is heard immediately.
The app collects data on: average response time, accuracy, and correct/incorrect. It can be emailed, and can even be viewed as a line graph, with accuracy shown over time. It would be even better if the user could tag each session with a descriptor, or even just a session time, in order to better track which particular client produced those results. Thankfully, these tags can be added to the email if desired.
This app's cost is in line with many other professional apps, especially given the functionality. However, it is on the high end of the spectrum for professional apps, making it less accessible to some therapists. There is a free Lite version to try, which helps those who want to evaluate it before buying—the Lite version does not allow any customization or adding images, however.
Still, iRecognize has managed to include most of the features I want in a professional app, and SLPs who work with older clients and adults may find it essential. There are no games geared for children, built-in reward systems, or juvenile pictures to work around—simply an app that allows the individual therapist to set it up as desired.
Heather Hetler is a speech-language pathologist working in a public elementary school. She also has three children who are always glad to offer their services as app testers.
Originally posted on Smart Apps for Kids.