Verbally is an iPad application designed to be used as an Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) device. This application is intended for people who are nonverbal or have difficulties in expressive communication. It can be used as a communication aid for people with apraxia, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Cerebral Palsy (CP), Parkinson’s disease (PD), Muscular Dystrophy (PD), Autism, and Down Syndrome.
The first and foremost advantage of this application is that it is 100% FREE. Once the application is downloaded, there are three possible layouts to choose from. First, the horizontal layout displays the words or phrases at the top of the screen with a keyboard similar to an ordinary computer keyboard at the bottom. The text box and word prediction are in the middle of the screen. The other two keyboards are designed for left-handed and right-handed preferences. Next, users can also select to have the voice of Rosie (female) or Dave (male). There is a large “Speak” button that is easy to locate when the user is ready to speak the message. Users can choose whether they would like each word to be spoken as it is chosen or wait to have the entire message spoken once it is completed. The application automatically deletes everything in the text box once it has been spoken; however, there is a useful “Repeat” button to reiterate a previously spoken word or phrase The keyboard also has a button to be used as a bell chime. As noted on the application’s website, “This is helpful when you want to get the attention of others or to interject in a conversation”. Lastly, users can choose to have their contacts imported. This allows the word prediction to come up with names, locations, and businesses that are more familiar to the user.
This application can be an invaluable aid for communication; however, there are some shortcomings. First, the voice quality is minimal. Unlike Proloquo2go, the voices of Verbally do not compare to the naturalness of a human voice. Users are limited to choosing between only two voices and cannot adjust the rate of speech. Secondly, there is a limited range of words already established on the application’s layout. Since everything on the screen is already preset, it is impossible to adjust the word grid to be more compatible with the user’s needs. Although the application allows users to important their personal contacts, it is also only limited to proper nouns. In addition, the word predictions are limited to only four choices at a time. Furthermore, the user population is limited because the application is only available to be downloaded on an iPad.
By Kelli-Ann Flynn