Special Needs App of the Day: Scene & Heard

Special Needs App of the Day: Scene & Heard

This review is courtesy of Wynsum Arts’ Every App Has a Story, the stories behind Wynsum Arts’ distinguished apps.

London-based Therapy Box is a speech and communications services company that offers several apps, including augmentative and alternative communication apps and speech therapy apps. The company originated when speech and language therapist Rebecca Bright decided to create an affordable, easy-to-use AAC app. Click here to read our post on Predictable, a switch-accessible text-to-speech app.

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After working on Predictable, Bright and her husband, telecommunication expert Swapnil Gadgil, saw the need for more innovative apps in the communications space.

With Scene & Heard, Bright and Gadgil capitalize on the multimedia capabilities of the iPad to create a communications tool for people with special needs.

Scene & Heard allows users to create “scenes” from photos. Hotspots on the photos can launch audio, video or links to other scenes. You can use your own photos or photos downloaded from the internet to create scenes. Scene & Heard is also switch accessible.

The app encourages independence with interactions and communications. For example, users can create a “communication passport.” Usually, this is a tool that allows a non-verbal person to introduce himself and explain his method of preferred communication. The user can create a communication passport based on a picture of himself holding an iPad. When he touches an area of the picture, the iPad can play pre-recorded audio: “Hi, I’m Tim and I do not speak. I use my iPad to communicate.” Another area of the picture could share information about a specific frequent concern: “I am autistic. Loud noises and crowds make me anxious” or “I am allergic to peanuts. Are there peanuts in this menu item?”

The app can also be used as a teaching or prompting tool. You can even set a pop-up reminder to prod the user to complete a task. For example, to encourage a child’s independence in a bedtime routine, you could create a scene starting with a picture of his own bedroom. One hotspot in the image might prompt him to put on his pajamas, while another hotspot might launch a video of him brushing his teeth.

The app makes it quite simple for users or caregivers to create their own scenes to support expressive communication by those who are nonverbal or receptive communication by those who require visual prompts. Whereas Therapy Box’s Predictable app requires users to know what they are going to say, Scene & Heard is also useful to children and adults with lower levels of literacy or cognitive ability.

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