Reviewed by Mary and Amy
Speech4Good is a universal speech therapy app from Balbus Speech Therapy. Jack McDermott founded Balbus Speech Therapy as a result of his personal journey with speech therapy for stuttering.
The hub of the app is the Speech Center – here you can work on your speech therapy session using the DAF, digital speech graph and recording options.
DAF stands for delayed auditory feedback – the user speaks into a microphone and hears their voice through headphones a fraction of a second later. DAF has been used to treat stuttering, and has shown promise for use in Parkinson’s and other degenerative speech disorders. With the DAF in this app you can set the delay to anywhere between 20-300 msec, the students speaks and hears their speech delayed by the selected amount. The DAF can be switched on or off when using the speech center. Please note that to use the DAF in this app you do need to use headphones and if your device doesn’t have a built in microphone (such as an older generation iPod Touch) then you will need an external microphone, for the iPad and newer iTouch you can use the built-in mike.
The Digital Speech Graph is basically an oscilloscope that responds to the sound of your voice, and represents it visually. There is some research suggesting that visualizing speech patterns can help improve production.
The app also allows you to record your speech therapy session whilst working with these tools, make notes on the session, save it to your library and email it (or share via social media).
So that is the theory of what this app involves, but I wanted to find out more about how it worked with real speech therapy students. As well as using it with my own children I consulted with Amy who is an SLPA working in a school district, to see how it worked with her students. When using it on a child who stutters she was able to see a noticeable improvement in his speech – he was still stuttering but it slowed down his speech and elongated it, which in turn made him more intelligible. The child did have a hard time tolerating the DAF, so she found it better to use it at smaller delay, as that was more comfortable for him. When Amy used it on other students working on their articulation she found they loved to use it, even after a couple of months the students are still requesting to use it. She found one student in particular who was not very interested in improving her “R” articulation that found a new motivation and interest when using the app, after using it for a couple of months she is showing an improvement in her articulation.
My own daughter who has Apraxia often talks very softly, by using the speech graph I was able to show her how much smaller her graph was than mine and she immediately started to talk at a louder volume (much more effective than asking her to talk up!). She was also very interested in using the DAF. Both my daughter and her older brother enjoy using the app – watching the oscilloscope, using the DAF and recording themselves and listening to the playback.
As well as the Speech Graph and DAF the app includes a recording function. With this you can record your speech session, and store it in your library within the app – with a date, time and session notes. You can also email the recording or share it via FB or twitter. The recording and emailing option can be useful for sharing information between home and the student’s SLP. The Facebook and Twitter options were not suitable for the age group of students we were using the app with, but may be used by older students and young adults. The app only records the audio not the accompanying Speech Graph.
Improvements I would like to see in future updates: the Digital Speech Graph is currently only one color (blue) and is fixed at one rate – I would like to see this upgraded to a full-spectrum, adjustable rate version as I think this would work even better. I would also love to see the recording option include the Digital Speech Graph as well as the audio – I think this would be a really great tool if the student could play back their good and bad productions to both see and hear the difference.
Overall, I think this is a very useful and innovative speech app. I think that SLPs looking for a new tool for speech therapy will find this useful, especially for students with stuttering but also to add a new interesting dimension to their speech therapy sessions. If you are a parent of a child who stutters or a child in speech therapy who needs some more motivation to do their speech therapy practice I would recommend you consider downloading it too.
Mary wrote this review wi th additional input from Amy T., SLPA, who works in a California School District.
Requirements: Compatible with
Size: 0 MB