Dynavox Compass App is being released for free for ASHA certified professionals. The app is the same software that runs on the T10 communication device.
Compass includes the InterAACt framework of pages with scene and grid based context pages where you can add photos of a patient's home, school and community to ease the learning curve for navigation and speed of communication. It also has a toolbar available on all pages which allows users to quickly navigate between quick messages, word lists (dictionary), core word pages for sentence building, a keyboard and their home pages.
Compass comes with its own research based core word pages but also gives families and professionals the option of using either Gateway or WordPower for sentence building (core word strategy). The Compass Core Word set is a little harder for us to get used to, primarily because it is presented in a different format than the traditional Gateway and WordPower we've seen for many years. I did a little reading and asking around and found that there is a lot of research out there about the need for core word instruction but not so much about HOW we're supposed to do it. I am curious how the strategy in Compass works for our patients. The hardest part about this particular method of displaying core words is simply that there are no visual cues for word meaning, category or order in a sentence. Is that bad? I'm not sure, but as a therapist I depend on using visual cues to teach, so I'm struggling a bit with this format. For now, I'm defaulting back to my comfort zone with WordPower and Gateway but I'm not writing off the new Core format quite yet.
The best feature of Compass is the seamless interaction of visual scene/grid context based messages with quick phrases and control messages. Users can have pictures of their own kitchens, bedrooms and cars with their own personally developed messages- you know those phrases you use ALL the time but which don't exist on any word list? This programmable feature gives users a plethora of visual cues which decreases the learning curve for most of our patients. Need to talk in your kitchen? Touch the photo of your own kitchen, touch the refrigerator photo and ask, "Who drank all the milk???" Don't have "milk" on your kitchen page, touch the button for "topic words," select "favorite drinks" and you'll find your milk, Coke, juice, and (since we are in Georgia) sweet tea! And if you want to put together a creative sentence, touch the "Core Word" button on your toolbar and navigate quickly to the Core Word Pageset of your choice and select your words: "Jackson" + "did" + "it" + "!"
Compass is easily the most comprehensive selection of communication methods seamlessly combined into one page set. This programming is our go-to choice for patients who communicate best using whole phrases based on their environment, who need to develop their language through sentence building and single word comprehension and who need visual supports to help them navigate their day. Not the fastest core word strategy on the market but hands down the best visual supports available for language.
Disclosure: DTA is a high volume AAC evaluation center. As such we have long term loans for dedicated speech generating devices and professional AAC apps donated to our clinic for patient trials.