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RocketKeys is a switch accessible text based AAC system with sophisticated word prediction suitable for aphasic and dyslexic users; its customizable keyboards and accessible features make it a strong choice for literate users with vision or motor impairment.
For picture based AAC from MyVoice, check out TalkRocket Go or TalkRocket Go Français
There are several features that stand out, the first being accessibility. While RocketKeys can be used by a variety of users, RocketKeys was designed to meet the needs of individuals with significant motor issues. There are tap and hold features to address users that tap too often and need a more determined motion to select, as well as options for a person unable to lift the hand to tap. There is a feature that allows multiple fingers to rest on the screen without impeding selection of a key. A special keyboard option called Optimus, was developed based on the specific needs of "one touch" typers, reducing the need for movement by 50%. Feedback about Optimus to the developer indicates this keyboard option can work for many people, but is especially well suited to those with muscle weakness, paralysis, ALS,MS, stroke, etc. There is also a "stabilize" feature to help offset tremors as well.
The keyboards themselves are customizable too- both the keys and the cursor can be adjusted in size; custom keys can be easily added. Key output is easy to customize as well- For example you can set up a key so it displays one word on the key "Amy" but types and/or voices a different word or set of words "My name is Amy". This is especially useful for words that text to speech may mispronounce- you can adjust the pronunciation without altering how the word looks on the keyboard. There are three color schemes, including a high contrast black/white option that may be very helpful to users with visual impairment- the iPad itself has an "invert" option which would allow three more color schemes. The sentence bar and word prediction bar can be set to the top or bottom of the screen through a drag and drop motion in Edit mode. Voice options can be tweaked to change volume, speed and pitch. There are some more accessibility features as well:
Note from developer: Voice: Adult and children's voices (Acapela) included, alter volume, speed and pitch. "Primary" speaks final message to others "Secondary" speaks selection of keys and words "Hover" provides voice over for hand placement as cue or for vision impaired based on "dwelling". Benefits: Mixing different voices allows user and listener to distinguish composition from final message with clearly different voices. Like voice over of iPad but more custom.
RocketKeys can store up to seven user profiles, which makes this a viable option for a classroom setting where one iPad is used across the day with different individuals.
The second feature to stand out is the (truly impressive) word prediction capabilities of RocketKeys. The word prediction engine is based on thousands of utterances in Twitter (US), which means this word prediction is savvy and more conducive to natural speech. The word prediction in RocketKeys includes slang, idioms, proper names, current cultural, literary and popular references not found in other engines. My son was able to bring up Star Wars related words with ease. FYI, we did find one swear word when talking about Siths that snuck through RocketKeys' "scrubbing" process of removing swear words from the predictive speech- this should be addressed in the next update. Personally, I would prefer a profanity filter of some sort, so cognitively aware adults/teens could have the option to use this language in appropriate social circles, but of course these words can always be added as keyboard keys, if so inclined.
Another big plus is how friendly the app is toward poor spellers. If you know the first letter of the word, the word prediction will help you find the correct choice, even if the other letters are jumbled or misspelled. My son misspelled "cracking" as "craking" and the word prediction offered him several appropriate choices "croaking" "creaking" "cracking" "cranking"; ''yiwning" correctly brought up "yawning" as a choice. More significant spelling errors like "SPC" for special will correctly bring up choices like "special" '"space" "speech" "Spicy" "Spencer" etc. For apraxic and dyslexic users, this means less backspacing to fix errors and quicker communication! (You can change the number of word predictions offered in the Settings- from 1 to 7 words shown).
The fourth stand out feature of RocketKeys is the excellent customer service. MyVoice is rightly very proud of their AAC app and will bend over backwards to make sure you understand the full potential of RocketKeys. There are regular, free webinars available. I am both a visual and auditory learner, and once Tony had pointed out all the features and what their function was, I found it very easy to edit and set up keyboards and Profiles in RocketKeys.
Therapy Box is a participant in Special Apps, Special Kids & The Appy Ladies' collaborative effort for Autism Awareness Month, which we are also calling Autism ACCEPTANCE Month. Awareness leads to Acceptance.
Giveaways all month long, here: http://specialappsspecialkids.blogspot.com/2014/03/giveaways-freesale-lists-autism.html