Avaz is a communication app that was developed in collaboration with 25 schools and 500 children, to help children with autism achieve improved communication. This app is available as a Lite app or can be purchased for $199.99. It is also available on the Apple App Store and Android. Avaz uses picture symbols and high-quality voice synthesis to help users create messages. With Avaz, you can also record your own voices. It comes with 3 research-based, graded picture vocabularies, and a Core Words set that will help a child begin to communicate. According to Avaz, these vocabularies have been designed to facilitate spontaneous novel utterance generation, encourage a child to not only use language, but also generalize from it. Avaz has an added feature of facilitating easy transition into text. Avaz’s keyboard has support for saving and loading text, a Quick response bar for frequently-used messages, and a picture-assisted text prediction capability for sight readers. Avaz features animation to reduce distraction content from the screen, control over the speech output, and a high-contrast mode to help a child visually attend better. Editing is also user friendly for both therapists by caregivers and the page set can be backed up easily to ensure that no information is lost. To learn more about Avaz app, click here.

Photo Album with Avaz and Bluebee Pal

Communicating about your family and friends is not only motivating but engaging for both the AAC user and the communication partner. The activity suggested also helps an AAC user with discriminating pictures, taking turns in conversation and combining symbols into a phrase “My grandma”, “My grandfather” or “This is ___(child’s name) ______ (name of family member). For this activity, you will need a photo album with pictures inserted such as extended family members, close friends, teachers and helpers around the community (e.g. barber, janitor, policeman, etc). Incorporating Bluebee Pal into this activity will help make this communication exchange even more engaging. It will also help the child shift the focus to the Bluebee Pal which can help improve joint attention.

1. Connect your Bluebee Pal. Choose which vocabulary page set you want to use. For this activity, I used advanced communicator. Once on the advanced communicator page, navigate to the people page. Program the message: “I want to tell you about _______(Child’s name) family. Do you want to hear?”. This will be Bluebee’s first message as an introduction to the activity.

2. As you are turning the pages in your photo album, ask the AAC user “Who is this?” This will prompt the child to communicate “My mom”, “My grandmother” or _____(child’s name). Encourage the AAC user to visit the pages “My friends”, “School people” and “Helpers” to further expand on improved navigation and categorization.

3. Encourage the child to tell you more about the picture by navigating to the “describing” page and/or “actions” page. This can help a child work on sentence structure and the correct use of pronouns, actions and nouns such as “He play ball”, etc. with the use of core and fringe vocabulary.

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