Speech FlipBook: The developers of this app state, “This is a tool rather than a therapy program…” This is an important warning. That is because this is an app that focuses on the production of sounds. I have lost count of the number of times I have negatively reviewed apps because the developer has delved into sound production territory. It is a quagmire. Because I occasionally chastise myself for pouncing on the negatives of many apps, I will start with the positives of Speech FlipBook and then end with its drawbacks.
According to the developer, there are over 2300 words included in the app. This includes 22 initial consonant sounds, 29 initial clusters, 24 vowel sounds (9 vowels, 6 dipthongs and 9 “r-controlled” vowels), 20 ending sounds and 32 final clusters. The first screen of the FlipBook has six different colored tabs: Home, Initial Sounds, Initial Cluster, Vowels, Final Sounds and Final Clusters. Tap on a tab, other than Home, and a screen with the phonetic symbols and their features appear non a chart. One can select or deselect sounds on these screens. There is a button on the Home screen that allows one to select if the books will show sounds or words. There is a tab on the Setting screen that allows one to edit the words that will appear (there is no option for typing in one’s own words). Speech FlipBook is nicely organized into three sections for initial, vowel, and final sounds. An upward or downward swiping movement on a sound changes it. Like with any flip book, one can opt to change one, two or all sounds. One has the option of displaying only real words or real and nonsense words and showing or hiding the spelling of real words (no spelling of nonsense words). The app has recording and sound production features. One can record and playback the user’s production of the sound(s) after one hears the narrator say it. Herein lies the problem. Out of the 22 initial consonants presented, I found four to be unclear. Of the 29 initial consonant clusters, I found 8 unclear and the /s/ in 3 of the clusters sounded lateralized.
The vowels are arranged on the phonetic chart as alphabetic and phonetic symbols. The consonants are shown as alphabetic letters on the phonetic chart. I found it confusing when, for instance, the letter “j” appeared on the phonetic chart as a palatal affricative. I also noticed that “j” appeared along with the /ʊɚ/ vowel so that the vowel was shown as /jʊɚ/. Megan Sutton, SLP and and the app designer noted that, “While the categorization of sounds in the app was an issue in the design, it seems you’ve figured out that there are spellings on all tabs, with the additional IPA sounds on the vowel tab. All sounds between // lines are phonetic symbols, which is the standard convention in our field.” In reply to my confusion about /j/ appearing with /ʊɚ/, Ms. Sutton stated, “It is included in the consonants as a glide, but also with the vowels for words such as pure when it is preceded by another consonant rather than creating new clusters that aren’t traditionally thought of as clusters (/pj/ etc). /j/ was certainly one of the most difficulty sounds to categorize as some word lists include it with vowels and others with consonants. Given that the app is usually used for articulation and apraxia, I hope that the way it appears is the most logical and useful for SLPs.”
Speech Flipbook has no pictures, making this an app for readers only or as an assist to the adult user as she reads the sound changes while flipping through the cards.
The inclusion of databases in speech and language apps has become a strong selling point. Unfortunately, this app is not equipped with rewards or a database for collecting information on clients. However, the developers have informed me that they are working on a professional upgrade to the app to include data tracking and user profiles.
Note: Ms. Sutton stated that she designed this app to be used with apraxic and aphasic adults and for “accent goals” as well as children.
Developer website: www.tactustherapy.com
Costs: $4.99 for iPad/iPhone only.