Wednesday, 13 March 2013

SpeechBox App

Welcome to Speech Rocket's first app review.  We have looked at the SpeechBox app. 

I have now had SpeechBox for a few weeks, and I find that I am increasingly dipping into it for therapy.   Once therapy aims have been selected it is a really helpful resource.  For years now I feel that I have been fumbling around with resources in paper, and sometimes shuffling many picture piles of cards around in therapy, speech box reduces the need for this.     

SpeechBox is easy to orientate through and very flexible.  The opening screen is a series of boxes labelled in the first instance with sounds and further down the page are categories.  It is a simple and effective sorting tool.   

Once you open a sound box you are presented with lots of photos all at once.  These are well taken photos and are instantly recognisable.  In the open box you can further choose whether to work on initial, medial or final sounds.  To fine tune therapy stimuli you can use a listing button- to show or hide pictures. The number of pictures in each box varies with the phoneme selected.   If there are not enough images for you then you can upload photos into the app. 

There are word prompts for the app, which come in American, British and Australian English.   Although this is good, it is not a feature I have hugely used.  Some of the older children with whom I work do like it though.   I like that the auditory prompts can be recorded again by the therapist, as the accents in all these countries have huge variations and I could see if people use this feature they might want to record the prompts in their own accents, especially for vowel work.

I think one of the features I like best in this app is that I can create my own speech boxes.  This I can see as an excellent asset.  For example, I can work on a core word vocab with a child and make their own box for them.

So far I have used this app for creating word lists for reading to the client at two or three points in the session.  In addition I have used it for production work on sounds.   The children I work with have liked it.   There does not seem to be an age limit on this app, and I would  feel comfortable using it with teenagers.

Some of the the boxes have more pictures than others.  This can be a bit of a draw back if you need more stimuli, for example for the r, ch or dg sound.  I guess this was done with the thought that these are less common to work on, but they are still useful sounds to have pictures for.  It would also be good to have some more complicated syllable structures in the available pictures.

I also notice a difference in categorisation of sounds to what I would do as a Speech and Language Therapist.  For example, in  the /r/ section.  The accent I work in is non rhotic and therefore would not include words such as 'cork' or 'trainer', which the app includes in this box.  I think if you know that this is the case it is easy to work therapy around it. 

The other thing I notice is that the vocabulary selected can be Australian in nature.  Dialects can impact on therapy as well as accents.  So the word 'bobo' is not one used in British English and therefore is not a useful word for the UK population. 

As a therapist I would recommend this app as an excellent resource for therapy. As with all apps it cannot replace the therapist's role in guiding the client through therapy by selection of correct targets for them.

The creator of the app is really good at reflecting on any suggested changes, and is quick at responding to emails.  The website is