Purpose of the app: Ola Mundo is a symbol-based communication system that allows non-verbal children to communicate with family and friends whether close or far away. It's the first AAC app with remote messaging.
Strengths: Wonderful and original concept that provides a way for AAC users to communicate with friends and family anywhere. Great customization features enable you to tailor this app to the needs or your child and family. The app can be downloaded on multiple devices under one account.
Weaknesses: Children already using an AAC system might find it difficult to learn a new set of symbols. The symbols are very similar to each other which might make it difficult for younger children to use. Requires a pricey subscription service to use past the first 55 messages.
Suggested Audience: Designed for non-verbal children with autism and their families, but can be used with any child who could benefit from symbol based communication. This app could be used for side-by-side communication or remote messaging.
Star Rating Breakdown
Meets Intended Goal
Worth the Price
Ease of Use
Level of Customization
If you would like to download Ola Mundo (iPhone/iPad, free to download then requires subscription service) please support Smart Apps for Special Needs by using the link provided:
To get started, create a new account which requires an email address and password. Then add a profile using an avatar or with an actual picture of the user. Up to five additional profiles can be added, and these are the people available to message. The app can be downloaded to multiple devices using the same account. The main user will appear in a box in the upper left hand corner with his/her contact list below. The iPad version is designed for use with the AAC user, while the iPhone version is designed to use by friends and family members.
The chat view fills the upper half of the screen, the symbol categories appear across the middle of the screen and the symbol bank is the bottom half of the screen. The settings can be easily accessed anytime by touching the three lines at the top of the screen. Simply tap “back to chat view” to hide the settings.
To message a contact, tap on their name under the profile picture. If the person you wish to communicate with is in the same room, select the side-by-side option. It is easy to switch back and forth between these two modes making this a versatile app.
To change a symbol, go to edit symbols under settings. You can choose to edit symbol, add symbol or edit audio. Pick an option and then select a symbol. Add family specific names for people or objects--take a picture or use one from the camera roll to represent a person or other symbol. You can also download an image from the internet. Delete or hide symbols to further customize a category. For example, under food you can hide the soda symbol if that is not something your child is allowed to drink.
The app can be used for side-by-side communication with or without an internet connection. Internet is required to utilize the remote messaging. The iPhone version of Ola Mundo is designed for friends and family members. They can receive messages from the child and reply back using their qwerty keyboard. When the message appears from a family member, the child can read it or tap on the profile picture to hear the message read aloud.
Ola Mundo is available in both English and Hebrew. Voice options allow you to change between text-to-speech and recorded voice. A back-up feature ensures that you can save all message conversations and gives you the ability to restore your profile and it’s personalized customization.
Ola Mundo website is a wonderful resource with FAQs and support available for specific questions. They also have a user guide which I would recommend downloading. The customization features are wonderful and simple to implement. Even with customization, younger children will need lots of support to use the app and children who are already using some type of AAC device may have difficulty switching over to a different interface and new set of symbols. Confusion between AAC styles could lead to frustration.
The app is free to download and offers 55 free messages before a subscription must be purchased. This is a fair amount of messages to determine if this app would be a good fit for your family. I like that you can take advantage of all the customization features before committing to a subscription. The fees for subscription do seem expensive to me, but would be worth it if a child could safely and effectively communicate with loved ones on the go.