Mr. Potato Head app tops the list of things I recently learned

blogEntryThumbnailAfter finishing a round of trainings in May with a two-day stint in New York and two Ablenet webinars, I have thought about what I learned. Here are just a few things gleaned from the preparation and audience participation:
  • There’s a visual timer in the built-in iPad Clock app
  • Books made in the Book Creator iPad app are best viewed in the iBooks app
  • In the built-in Photos iOS app, re-order an image/video thumbnail by tapping the Edit button, then dragging the thumbnail to a desirable location.
But, above all, the coolest thing I learned about was the Mr. Potato Head iOS app. It’s a free universal app (with a $.99 in-app purchase for removing ads) that allows you to choose a theme and a Mr. or Mrs. Potato Head. It is so neat! You get to drag and drop the body parts, which almost seems easier than interacting with a traditional Mr. Potato Head. And the best part, in my humble opinion, is that you’ll never lose another Mr. Potato Head piece ever again! To learn more, check out the video below from CrazyMikesapps.


ArtikPix 2.5 Update

blogEntryThumbnailArtikPix and ArtikPix - Full version 2.5 were released today as free updates. Here's a list of the new features:
  • Deck sharing feature for users with all of the decks. If you have the full version or all of the decks in the free version of ArtikPix, you can now share custom decks via email attachment or iTunes File Sharing.
  • Bug fixes related to the Create module
  • If you like the new features, please leave a comment on the iOS App Store listing for ArtikPix. If you have feedback, please email
Below is a video tutorial showing how easy it is to share custom decks in ArtikPix. Note that when sharing a custom deck, the deck can be accessed on any iOS device (e.g., iPhone, iPad, iPod touch) that has ArtikPix with all of the decks. After a little bit of experience with the ArtikPix sharing feature, you will realize the possibilities of sharing a custom deck to colleagues, parents, and even among your own iOS devices.


3 ways to use the ArtikPix video camera

blogEntryThumbnailThe latest versions of ArtikPix and ArtikPix - Full 2.41 for iPhone and iPad include a video camera feature that can be used in multiple ways to aid children during speech sessions. Here is a quick guide for three easy ways to use the video camera in ArtikPix:

1. Use it as a mirror

The video camera can easily be used as a mirror to allow a child to view his/her mouth movements during speech productions. Simply activate the video camera by tapping the camera button (in Flashcards or Matching); there is no need to press the record button. When you’ve finished practicing, tap the Cancel button to get back into ArtikPix.


2. Record a video and play it without saving

It’s easy to record speech productions for immediate review. After tapping the camera button (in Flashcards or Matching), tap the record button (once to record and a second time to stop), then the play button to preview the video. You can continue to record over each video by tapping the Retake button. For users who choose to preserve storage space on their iOS device, ArtikPix does not require you to save each video. Just tap the Cancel button to return to ArtikPix.

video recording

3. Save a video for later review

Of course, you can also save videos from ArtikPix to access later in order to track and share student progress. Once you have recorded a video (in Flashcards or Matching), tap the Use button to save the video. A prompt will appear in ArtikPix to save the video to your iOS device Camera Roll. You can choose to play the video by tapping the play button in ArtikPix, or by accessing your Camera Roll via the Photos app. Saved videos can be emailed from the Camera Roll by tapping Edit, choosing the video, then tapping the Share button and Mail.

camera roll

Using the video camera in ArtikPix is easy and there are multiple possibilities for incorporating it in speech sessions.

Autism Awareness Month Giveaway: ArtikPix - Full or iTunes Gift Codes

blogEntryThumbnailEnter to win:

artikpix-icon 2 ArtikPix - Full
itunes10logo 2 iTunes gift codes

For Autism Awareness Month, I wanted to do something to benefit individuals with autism and special needs. After considering a few ideas, I decided to do a giveaway on my blog. Since ArtikPix - Full was recently updated, I thought I would include it as part of a giveaway. I also wanted anyone who previously purchased the app to be eligible, so I’m including an alternative option to win a $15 iTunes gift code. Consequently, three winners will have the opportunity to choose either a promo code for ArtikPix - Full or a $15 iTunes gift code.

To participate, please enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below. You are eligible to receive multiple entries for completing the various tasks listed.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

ArtikPix 2.4 Update

blogEntryThumbnailUpdate: ArtikPix 2.41 update is now available with fixes for crash bugs. If you own the app, please update via the App Store Updates tab.

ArtikPix and ArtikPix - Full version 2.4 were released today as free updates. Here's a list of the new features:
  • iPhone 5 support
  • Enhanced design for increased user friendliness
  • Configurable option for word and sentence level in flashcards
  • Target word is now underlined at the sentence level in flashcards
  • Video recording feature that allows you to save videos
  • If you have all of the decks, you can create your own decks and cards. Use a photo or one of the nearly 2,000 illustrations.
  • iOS 5.0+ support. Install this update only if you have iOS 5.0 or higher.
  • Bug fixes

If you like the new features in
ArtikPix and ArtikPix - Full 2.4, please rate and review the apps on iTunes. If you have feedback, please email

If you want to learn more about ArtikPix, please check out the new Expressive Solutions website at

Note that Eric Sailers is a co-creator of ArtikPix, which was previously sold under RinnApps. In 2012, ArtikPix was migrated to a company called Expressive Solutions, which is now owned and operated by Eric Sailers.

Communication board for a party

blogEntryThumbnailAt the transition center, we had a party before spring break. In order to provide an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) support for the nonverbal students, I created a party communication board using the Go Talk Now app for iPad. I used the communication board on an iPad, and I printed it out for staff and parents to use.

You’ll see below that the party communication board has 9 buttons comprising pronouns, verbs, comments, and requests. It also has core vocabulary buttons for greetings (e.g., Hi, How are you, Bye) via the exclamation point button. Consequently, the communication board is an AAC support for communicating a variety of language structures beyond simple labeling of objects like food.

Party communication board

ArtikPix 2.4 video preview

A major update for ArtikPix version 2.4 is coming soon! Get a preview of the new features by viewing the video below. If desired, you can configure the video for HD and/or captions.


Apple iOS 6 update - considerations and issues for apps

blogEntryThumbnailOn September 19, 2012, Apple will have their iOS 6 update available via the desktop iTunes app, or over-the-air on iOS devices. The update is compatible with the iPhone 3GS and newer, iPad 2, iPad 3, and the fourth generation iPod touch. If you plan to update to iOS 6, be cautious about doing it immediately because your 3rd party apps could have issues. In many cases, developers need to update their apps to be compatible with iOS 6. If their apps are not updated for iOS 6 support, bugs and crashes can occur. The problem for developers, including myself, is that the iOS 6 gold master (final beta for testing) was released one week ago. This means that developers only had a week with the gold master and their apps to test, fix, submit, and receive Apple approval. Well, that can be quite difficult when the average app review time is currently 9 days!

For users, choosing to update to iOS 6 is appealing, but it’s important to think carefully about when to update. Like other people, I’m eager to get the great new features from Apple including Maps, Passbook, Guided Access, and more. But, if I wasn’t a developer and I had to do a presentation in the next week or therapy that required extensive iOS device use, I likely would wait at least a couple weeks to update to iOS 6. That way developers have a sufficient amount of time for Apple to approve app updates supporting iOS 6.

As an app developer, I have four apps that needed to be updated for iOS 6 support. StoryPals, ArtikPix, and ArtikPix - Full updates have been submitted to Apple and are currently waiting for review. And an update for PhonoPix - Full will be submitted in the coming days. The updates will resolve the following known issues in the existing versions of my apps running iOS 6:

StoryPals (On 9/20/12, Apple approved the update for iOS 6 support)
- Text-to-Speech does not play continuously in stories
- Taking/using photos cause a crash

ArtikPix/ArtikPix - Full/PhonoPix - Full (On 9/22/12, Apple approved the ArtikPix and ArtikPix - Full updates for iOS 6 support. On 10/5/12, The PhonoPix - Full update for iOS 6 support was approved by Apple.)
- Voice recording causes the apps to freeze
- Unnecessary comma in timestamps for scores

ArtikPix 2.3 updates include three new decks

blogEntryThumbnailArtikPix and ArtikPix - Full version 2.3 were released today as free updates. Here's a list of the new features:
  • Three new decks for w, y, and h sounds
  • Improved screen rotation
  • Bug fixes
If you like the new features in ArtikPix and ArtikPix - Full 2.3, please rate and review the apps on iTunes.

CUE Conference

blogEntryThumbnailI’m delighted to be presenting at the CUE Conference as a spotlight speaker. The conference will be held March 15 - 17 in Palm Springs, CA. If you’re planning to attend the event, please come to one or more of my sessions below. Not only will you learn a lot about iOS apps and devices for special needs, but you could also win cool stuff!

My CUE Conference sessions:

Friday, March 16, 2012 at 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM PST
Implementing iOS apps for communication: ArtikPix, Proloquo2Go, and Pictello
Hilton Hotel, Rm. Tapestry

Saturday, March 17, 2012 at 9:30 AM - 10:30 AM PST
iOS apps for AT
Hilton Hotel, Rm. Tapestry

Saturday, March 17, 2012 at 12:30 PM - 1:30 PM PST
iPad accessibility
Hilton Hotel, Rm. Tapestry

ArtikPix 2.2 adds landscape mode

blogEntryThumbnailArtikPix and ArtikPix - Full version 2.2 were updated prior to the holidays. The major new feature is landscape mode for iPad, which was heavily requested by users. Version 2.2 also adds a feature to the matching activity that involves pressing the Done button after all matches have been made. Users had also requested this feature for enabling more practice at the end of matching, particularly when the configurable option of Hide Matched Cards is turned OFF. If you like these new features in ArtikPix and ArtikPix - Full 2.2, please rate and review the app on iTunes.

On behalf of Eric Sailers and RinnApps, thank you to all ArtikPix users. We appreciate receiving feedback to make ArtikPix a leading speech articulation app. We’re looking forward to working more with users in 2012. Happy Holidays!

Sailers video blog: Episode 3

My wife and I started a video blog series on Apple technologies, education, and special needs. Episode 3 includes CNN Student News, the BigGrips frame and stand, and an app demo. Watch the video to learn about the information covered and to see me demonstrate one of my new favorite apps.

To receive the next video blog automatically, please subscribe to my blog at

Note that it's best to view the video in 720p HD and full screen mode. You can do this by changing the controls found in the bottom toolbar of the YouTube video.

Disclosure: The author was provided with a complimentary BigGrips iPad frame and stand.

Sailers video blog: Episode 2

My wife and I started a video blog series on Apple technologies, education, and special needs. Episode 2 includes BrainPOP, an iPad stand, and an app demo. Watch the video to learn about the information covered and to see us demonstrate one of our new favorite apps.

To receive the next video blog automatically, please subscribe to my blog at

Note that it's best to view the video in 720p HD and full screen mode. You can do this by changing the controls found in the bottom toolbar of the YouTube video.

Sailers video blog: Episode 1

My wife and I started a video blog series on Apple technologies, education, and special needs. Episode 1 includes Apple Siri, DS Action (a non-profit organization for Down Syndrome), and an app demo. Watch the video to learn about the information covered and to see us demonstrate one of our new favorite apps.

To receive the next video blog automatically, please subscribe to my blog at

Note that it's best to view the video in 720p HD and full screen mode. You can do this by changing the controls found in the bottom toolbar of the YouTube video.

BubCap home button covers

I want to share the BubCap home button covers for iOS devices. A BubCap is like a rigid sticker that is placed over the home button so children (especially children with sensory needs) cannot accidentally exit an app. Although the BubCap protects the home button from children, adults are still able to press it for navigational purposes–though, my wife seemed to have a hard time with this.

The BubCap cover comes in a pack with three different rigidities based on the child’s age and the type of iOS device used. The company suggests that the regular BubCap is for toddlers with iPhone and iPod touch; the BubCap Ultra is for toddlers with iPad or older children with iPhone and iPod touch; finally, the BubCap Max is for older children with iPad. However, my preference is to use the BubCap Ultra on any iOS device. The BubCap Max feels too rigid even for an adult to press.

The BubCap works by peeling off the backing and then placing it on top of your iOS device home button. Once the BubCap has been adhered, let it sit for about 15 minutes before use. Then, you’re ready to go. When you no longer need the BubCap, you can peel it off with you fingernail (applying slow steady pressure) and dispose of it or save it for future use.

As the company website says, BubCaps make a great stocking stuffer and they start at $5 for a 4-pack. BubCaps are well made and a good solution to help children stay within an app.

Disclosure: The author was provided with a complimentary 6-pack of BubCaps for demonstration purposes.

Beyond Adaptive iPad Arm Kit

blogEntryThumbnailI would like to share an iPad Arm Kit from a company called Beyond Adaptive. The kit provides an excellent iPad mount for individuals with physical disabilities – even though it can be used by anyone. If someone with a motor impairment (such as an individual with cerebral palsy) wants to access an iPad, the arm kit is a great solution for keeping the device in a stable position.

The kit works by fastening the quick action clamp to an object (e.g., a table), tightening another knob, and placing an iPad (original iPad or iPad 2) in the cradle. As simple as it sounds, it’s that easy to setup.

Since receiving the Beyond Adaptive iPad Arm Kit almost two months ago, I have demonstrated it during various workshops as a high-quality solution for physical access to iPad. When firmly clamped, the kit enables a very sturdy position for the iPad, regardless of where it’s mounted. I attached it to podiums, tabletops, and table legs without any worries of my iPad falling and breaking. I also attached it to wheelchair tray tables for my students with physical disabilities who successfully accessed the iPad independently. It didn’t matter where I clamped the kit or how much pressure was applied to the iPad, the device remained steady. The Beyond Adaptive iPad Arm Kit is wonderful and I highly recommend it for individuals with the need.

The kit pictured above is the Deluxe iPad Arm Kit. The regular price is over $400, but the company is running a special of $351 until the end of 2011. Contact the company for more information and purchasing details.

Disclosure: The author was provided with a complimentary iPad Arm Kit for demonstration purposes.

Homework sheets for ArtikPix

blogEntryThumbnailAmanda Backof, Speech-Language Pathologist who runs, has created homework sheets for ArtikPix. The sheets can be downloaded on her website at I also thought I would provide the download links here to the homework sheets:

Initial/Medial/Final P
Initial/Medial/Final B
Initial/Medial/Final F
Initial/Medial/Final K
Initial/Medial/Final G
Initial/Medial/Final S
Initial/Medial/Final Z

The downloadable documents are available as of 11.17.11. Check Amanda’s website in the future for updates. She is planning to add more homework sheets.

Terms of use stated by Amanda: Thanks to Symbolstix for allowing us to make these available for personal use [not for re-sale] under the terms of our subscription.

App Gap

blogEntryThumbnailI was asked to share a link to an article titled 15 Telling Facts About the App Gap: The "App Gap" refers to children of low socioeconomic status who do not have access to mobile devices and apps. Affluent children who have more access to apps might be receiving a more enriching learning environment. I believe that there's likely truth to this notion, however the article proceeds to explain that more time with apps can be harmful to child development and learning. Harmful, huh? That's pretty strong language which I question.

In the article, apps are consequently compared to TV and DVDs, a comparison which I disagree with. I feel that apps provide active learning environments vs. passive environments provided by TV shows and DVD movies. Due to the various interactions in apps (e.g., tapping, dragging, shaking, tilting, etc.), children immerse themselves in very enriching learning environments. This rings especially true for many disabled children who prefer to read and write with technology including mobile devices due to the motivating platform, not to mention built-in supports.

Although I don't agree with everything in this article, I still wanted to share a link to it because it does pose food for thought. It provides some interesting ideas to consider when determining the use of mobile devices and apps with children.

New AssistiveWare video for an Introduction to Pictello

I want to share a new AssistiveWare video for Pictello, the storytelling app for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. We created an Introduction to Pictello video divided in three chapters: playing a sample story, creating a story, and importing a story. Learn how to utilize all of the story features via demonstrations in the iOS simulator. The video is fully accessible with captions that can be viewed either in the YouTube player below (click CC) or on the Pictello website. You can also view the YouTube videos in HD and full-screen mode.

Disclosure: I do work for AssistiveWare and I am the author of this Introduction to Pictello video.

My path to working from home - Part 2: Apptastic therapy - “When we ask for something, we say ‘please’”

blogEntryThumbnailWorking with Proloquo2Go was the first experience I had that showed me the power of using apps. Although there weren't any other special needs apps on the market for iOS devices, there were reading, music, writing and math apps that my students with special needs could use. I was amazed to see how engaged my students were by the apps. They learned much more because the fun involved with these apps encouraged more learning. I could see that that the apps were going to completely change the way that education was delivered to students with special needs. The iOS touchscreen had incredible sensitivity in such a low cost device. It was head and shoulders above anything else available on the market for special needs. I could see that the field of special education was going to change forever.

One of the first apps I used with my students (other than Proloquo2Go) was Wheels on the Bus. The app is a musical book which involves the bus in fun, interactive pages as the classic song is played. Just like a traditional book, I realized that I could use the app for language therapy. The first time I used Wheels on the Bus with my preschool and kindergarten groups, they were immediately engaged and more interested in the speech therapy I was delivering. Using the app, I could target the expansion of sentences, grammatical structures, social language, and more. For an example of social language, there is an instance in the app when a frog swipes a cupcake from the chef without asking. I used this as an opportunity to model social language by demonstrating how to ask politely when you want something: “When we ask for something, we say ‘please’.” I would follow up by asking my students, “What do we say when we want something?” in order to elicit the response “please.” Since many of the skills contained in my students’ IEP goals could be addressed in a fun, effective way with the use of apps, I saw great value in using them. It was amazing to see the difference this cutting edge technology was making for my students.

I began wondering if the delivery of intervention could entirely involve apps. I started using other apps for reading and writing and then Proloquo2Go was released in the spring of 2009. After that, many types of special needs apps followed. There were apps for organization including reward charts; apps for dictating speech to text; and several augmentative communication apps to follow Proloquo2Go. I learned about as many apps as I could and I used them with as many students that I could to meet their IEP goals.

One of the first special needs apps I used was iReward. iReward is a visual chart that reinforces positive behaviors using rewards. For example, a star chart could be configured in the app so the child receives a toy after performing a set of positive behaviors. One of the charts I created for a student with autism was a star chart for remaining seated. He took to the app immediately and it definitely motivated him to successfully remain seated without much prompting from me. Although he couldn’t use too many words to express himself, his fingers on the iPod touch and his eye gaze told me what I needed to know: he wanted to use the device to achieve his goal. I hadn’t seen that level of interest from him previously with a standard paper chart.

After trying different apps with my students, I noticed they were increasingly more attentive. As a result, they would practice more and I was able to see progress a lot faster. Taking into account their tremendous interest and progress, I began gravitating away from all of the traditional therapy materials including traditional flashcards, paperback books, games, etc. and really focused on exploring the possibility of app-based therapy.

As my knowledge base of apps grew, I began to seek out ways to share my experience and tips with other speech-language pathologists and professionals. It seemed people were interested in using apps, but didn’t quite know how to approach them. So, I started speaking about apps and my experiences using them in therapy, and this led me in an unexpected direction.

Click here to view part 1 of "My path to working from home"

My path to working from home - Part 1: Beta testing Proloquo2Go

blogEntryThumbnailPrior to working from home, I began constructing the groundwork a while ago. And I didn’t even know it at the time. Back in the winter of 2008, I got involved in testing Proloquo2Go (an augmentative communication app for iOS devices) before the app’s release. I became a beta tester along with one of my students who has augmentative communication needs.  Once my student started using Proloquo2Go on an iPod Touch, I began to think about how an app could completely change not only my student’s life, but also my life as a speech-language pathologist. I soon realized that I could use iOS apps to facilitate communication for my students.

When testing Proloquo2Go with my student, I saw that it was a very sophisticated, yet easy-to-use solution via a mobile device. It had a lot of features while the interface was very user friendly. Additionally, the mobility factor was very important for this particular student because he walks and needs to communicate wherever he goes. The AAC device he had at the time was bulky and thus limiting communication to a tabletop. Proloquo2Go with an iPod touch, on the other hand, could go with him anywhere, whether the device was in his pocket or attached to a lanyard around his neck.

I recall one day I wanted my student to use Proloquo2Go at recess with general education peers. I took him to the playground and he wanted to play soccer. Since he had an iPod touch with a protective case, I figured why not. If it would allow him to interact with students beyond his special education classroom, I was all for it.

During the soccer game, my student ran after the ball as his iPod touch with Proloquo2Go was attached to his neck with a lanyard. The general education students approached him with great interest. They wanted to know how it was possible to use the cool device to communicate. With some assistance from me, my student was able to show them by asking questions and making comments. The students were very patient in waiting for him to communicate. I was highly impressed to see the conversational exchange between them. Plus, it was amusing to see how many of the students became more interested in my student and his “talker” than in playing soccer. It was something I had never seen before and it gave me chills that ran up my spine.

This experience with Proloquo2Go was the catalyst for further exploration of apps to use with my students.  My life was about to take an exciting turn as I entered a new chapter in my career.

1Password: Making my online life easier and more secure

blogEntryThumbnailFor a fairly long time, I have heard about the 1Password app, which involves the use of one master password for all your online passwords. I’ve read claims that 1Password will make your online life much easier and more secure. The reason is that the app automatically fills login information with a highly secure password unique to the given site. I hemmed and hawed about purchasing the app for a while, mostly because of the price: $39.99 for a single Mac license. I finally gave in and I'm very happy that I did.

About a week ago, I finally purchased 1Password for the Mac. Once I downloaded the desktop app, I investigated the 1Password extension for browsers because it appeared that the extension would be the best way to use the app for website logins. So, I downloaded the extension for main browsers including Safari, Firefox and Google Chrome. The extension enables a handy auto-save login that pops up after you create or use a website username and password. The auto-save login automatically fills in your information, then you just need to click a button to save it. Plus, the saved information is automatically saved to the desktop app and the extension downloaded across all browsers.

I immediately began using the 1Password extension on website logins for email, bank accounts, social media, product registrations, and more. Although I experienced some difficulty with changing existing passwords on websites, the app easily handled the creation of a new username and password. I typed a username and I used the password generator to generate a very secure password unique to the given site. The password generator provided passwords as a random string of lengthy numbers and letters (e.g., 15 characters long).

In addition to storing login information, 1Password can store your identity comprising personal and business profiles, and wallet information including your Social Security number, passport, and bank accounts. 1Password is highly secure so you don't have to worry about your confidential information being leaked. Your confidential information is encrypted by your master password; just remember to use a strong master password. When you walk away from your computer, you can manually lock your data or set an automatic lock that occurs after a selected period of time (e.g., 1 min. of computer inactivity).

Finally, I purchased the universal iOS app, 1Password Pro, which works very well with the Mac app. Using a local WiFi network, I easily synced my 1Password information from the computer to my iOS devices. So far, the Mac and iOS apps have been great. I can easily say that 1Password is making my online life easier and more secure.

Using Dragon Dictation to hopefully blog more

blogEntryThumbnailI want to start blogging more, but I feel like I need some help. Since I enjoy helping myself independently, at least initially, I found that using the Dragon Dictation app (iTunes link) on my iPhone is easier for me to begin the writing process. At times, it’s difficult for me to begin typing what’s on my mind. When that occurs, I find myself avoiding the task all together. So, I’m hopeful that speaking my thoughts first will improve the writing process for me, and ultimately allow me to blog more.

With the Dragon Dictation app, I first record my voice, then the app performs a voice to text transcription. Subsequently, the transcription is available for exporting options. I prefer the copy option for copying the text to an email in separate parts. Usually, I can't say everything I want for a blog in a single recording because the Dragon app stops recording after about 30 seconds. So, when I want to compose a blog beginning with Dragon, I’ve found that I need to record myself in at least two parts.

After I record one part of the blog posting in Dragon Dictation, I copy the text and paste it in an email on my iPhone. Then, I return to the Dragon app to record again. Once the recording is done, I copy the new text and paste it in the same email. I continue this process as long as necessary. When I’m done with the process, I email the text to myself. Finally, I edit the text in a word processing document on my computer and paste the edited text in a WordPress post for publishing.