TapSpeak Choice is an easy-to-use all-in-one Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) app. It functions as a full-features speech generation device and as a communication board player. It uses a layer metaphor to separate the communication board player/editor from the libraries (core vocabulary, nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc.) that the boards use. Navigation between layers is done with vertical swipes of a finger. Starting from the page layer, swiping up reveals the library layer, and swiping down from the library layer reveals the page layer.
Starting the App
The first time you run TapSpeak Choice, the app will need about 30 seconds to initialize the databases. After the initial startup, it will take about 10 seconds to start. If the app is already running in the background it will start without any delay. Once the app starts you’ll be on the board layer of the app and you’ll see an initial communication board.
The default scan setting is Direct Select. In this mode you tap a button and a message plays. When the message plays, the button will “pop”. It will expand, play a message and contract. If Scan Feedback is set to “on”, you’ll hear a sound just before the message is played.
If your iPad is configured to use one of the languages listed below, the app will download a voice for your language upon startup. Depending on the language and internet connection speed this download can take several minutes. The voice files are from about 50MB to 150MB in size.
- Flemish (Belgian Dutch)
- British English
- French Canadian
- US English
- US Spanish
Communication Boards/Pages and Libraries
Communication boards, or pages, are collections of messages (buttons) from one or more libraries. Our board implementation lets you use tried and true board layouts and lets you quickly create boards that you need right now for an immediate communication task. Board grids can be dynamic or static. Dynamic meaning it will resize the board for how ever many buttons you have all the way up to the maximum of 64 buttons. The static board is a board where you choose exactly where a button should be placed.
Libraries are sets of messages grouped by common attributes – core vocabulary, nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc. Create libraries with your own favorite core vocabulary or use one of the samples and create libraries of other words that your child or student use.
Buttons and Messages
A button is what you press to play a message. Buttons are created within the library page which is opened by pressing the file cabinet button. Boards reference buttons that you have created within these libraries.
When you want to add a button, you do so within the library page. After button creation, you can edit these buttons with the Image and Speech editors. With these you can associate the correct wording, speech, and imagery for the button that has been created. When a button is edited within the library or from the board that it is currently being used, it will change this button within the library and all pages that it is used on. When you rename a button like “train” to “choo-choo”, anywhere that button is used will also be renamed to “choo-choo”.
If you want to quickly edit a button, pres the pencil button on the top right hand corner. This will put the board into edit mode. To edit the button you simply just press and hold that particular button until the “Edit Button” message window pops up. From this you can either press the Speech Editor or the Image Editor. The Speech Editor will edit both your speech and the title of the button. The Image Editor will edit the image that is associated with that button. We go into further details on howto do this in Board Creation and Editing & Library Creation and Editing.
You can enable the message window from the Settings popover, which is opened by tapping the gear in the top right hand corner. Turn it on and the message window will appear. For any button you tap or select via scanning, that button will be copied to the message window. Tapping the message window plays the message and double-tapping the message window clears the message window. There’s also a backspace and a clear button (use when scanning) which you can use the remove the last button and clear the message window.
If you have some buttons set up for TTS and some for recorded voices, that’s no problem for TapSpeak Choice. The app will interleave TTS and recordings in the message window without a problem.
Communication boards and libraries reside on separate layers. You navigate between layers using up or down swipes. TapSpeak Choice starts on the board layer. To navigate to the library layer swipe up. When on the library layer swipe down to go back to the page layer.
Here are some tips on the swipes needed to navigate between board and library layers:
- Make the swipes short – about 1/2 to 1 inch is all that’s needed. Long swipes will work but there’s a bigger chance of going out of a vertical swipe.
- Make the swipes brisk – they don’t have to be super fast. Slow swipes don’t get detected as swipes.
- If you see the library picker or library buttons scroll even a bit from left to right, the iPad didn’t detect a vertical swipe.
- The “Touch” setting with direct select requires that you pay attention to where you start swipes on the board layer. If you have it set to “Touch” swipe up/down on any black portion of the screen. You only need to start the swipe in a black portion of the screen and you need very little black space for swipes to work.
- Practicing a bit will help.
Adding Buttons to a Board
You add buttons to a board from the library picker. The library picker is a left/right scroll view that displays all the buttons in your current library. Whichever library is showing on the library layer is your current library.
Activate the library picker by pressing the Rectangular button next to the file cabinet. You’ll see it at the top of the screen. Swipe left or right on the library picker to view the buttons in the library. Buttons in the library picker are always sorted alphabetically. Drag the desired button down, to add a button to your board. You’ll see that the board will automatically resize if needed, if it is set up as a dynamic board.
Finally, dismiss the library picker by pressing the file cabinet once more.
Editing a Board
You enter the board edit mode by tapping on the Pencil in the top right hand corner. When you do so, you’ll see delete icons (an X on the top right corner of every button) appear on the board’s buttons. In edit mode you can move and delete buttons. Move buttons by dragging a button to its new position. All other buttons on the board will automatically reposition themselves. You may find as you drag a button that you’ll bump against other buttons and the buttons will reposition. Don’t worry – keep dragging your button to where you want it.
The static board grid option lets you set a board size at any time. A static grid lets you place buttons on a board without disturbing the position of other buttons on a board. There are 18 different grid sized from 1×1 to 7×8.
Delete a button by tapping the delete icon on a button. The remaining buttons will reposition themselves.
Tap the board title again to exit edit mode and return to play mode.
Editing a Library/Button
On the library page you can add and edit buttons. Also, you can delete buttons from a library in the library edit mode.
Add a button to a library by tapping the “+” on the title bar. You’ll notice that there’s a red border on this button. The red border indicates that it is the active button and all editing functions will operate on this active button. The speech and image editors edit, respectively, the button label/TTS/recording(s) and image.
Buttons in a library are always sorted alphabetically by label. This makes it easier to find a button especially in the library picker.
Enter the library edit mode by tapping the library title on the title bar. You’ll see delete icons appear on the buttons. Tap the delete icon to delete the button. If a button is being used on a board you’ll see a warning message with the names of the affected boards. If you choose to delete a button that’s being used on a board, the button will be removed from the board.
You can zoom in/out on your library by pinching in our out. Zooming out lets you see more of your buttons without scrolling left/right. Zooming in lets you see buttons larger and in more detail but you may need to scroll left/right to see all of the buttons in the folder.
You can configure voice speaking rate and volume, select separate speaking and scanning voices, plus select from any of the voices your language supports. Through the Settings popover, you can get to the voice configuration and voice downloads. Voice downloads can take several minutes to complete; the voice file sizes range from 50MB to 150MB.
Boards and libraries can be organized using folders. Boards and libraries have separate folders even though they can have the same name. You can create, reorder, and delete folders from the settings icon. There is a special folder called the root folder. The root folder is the parent folder for all other folders and boards/libraries that don’t belong to a particular folder are in the root folder.
You can move boards and libraries among folders from the “Edit Board Info” or “Edit Library Info” buttons on the respective board or library tables. Tap the folder field on the info editor to select a different folder.
The default access mode for boards is direct select. Tap a button and it will play a message. For those who need scanning we provide a wide variety of scanning modes. Please note that if you choose the 1 Switch or 2 Switch switch configurations and don’t have a Bluetooth switch interface connected, the iPad keyboard will appear. Change the switch configuration back to iPad to dismiss the keyboard.
If you have the message window configured, scanning will first scan between the message window and the board and then through the message window or the buttons on a board.
Switch Configurations/Scan Type
- iPad – You can do Direct Access or 1 Switch Auto-Scanning
- 1 Switch – 1 Switch Auto-Scanning
- 2 Switch – 2 Switch Auto-Scanning or 2 Switch Step Scan
Scan Type/Scan Order
- 1 Switch Auto – Sequential, Row/Column, Column/Row
- 2 Switch Auto – Row/Column, Column/Row
- 2 Switch Step – Row/Column, Column/Row
All scan order settings support left/right and top/bottom settings.
Auditory Feedback when set on plays a button’s message while scanning through buttons.
Scan Speed can be selected for all scan types.
Scan Timeout sets the inactivity timeout for 2 Switch Step Scan.
Button Pop Duration configures the length of the button message play animation. For rapid message playing set the value low. For more visual feedback on the image lengthen the pop duration.
This setting turns on/off various sounds that give audible feedback for scanning and message selection.
The touch configuration only applies to the direct select access mode. Touch configuration allows you to accommodate children/students with varying motor skill abilities. On the Touch setting, direct select is activated with only very light contact with the iPad surface. The contact could also be a hit, swipe, fist, etc. It doesn’t matter how contact is made; the message will activate.
On the Tap Setting you are required to touch and release to play a message. You can adjust tap dwell time and drift amount to accommodate different abilities. tap dwell time can be from .1 to 5 seconds and drift amount can be from 10% of button size to 200% of button size.