App Review: Avaz

Name (Google Play) Avaz For Autism
Developer (Amazon) Invention Labs
 Price  $99.99
Size (MB) 344
Type General Language
Type Specific AAC
SD Card Yes

My wife got me interested in becoming a Speech Language Pathologist.  I was actually going into computer programing at the time I met her.  The second biggest influence was a teenager that had cerebral palsy.  I became his caregiver, and began to program his DynaVox.  Realizing that I could help people communicate though computers (AAC) motivated me to become a SLP, but after starting my career I haven’t had the opportunity to work with many AAC devices.

Avaz

With that all being said I am excited to be able to review my first AAC app on my blog.  I was contacted by someone from Invention Labs and asked to review their app Avaz.  I found Avaz very intuitive.  It was fairly easy to navigate and setup.  I was able to create a new page, take pictures and setup communication buttons on page without any instructions.  The app design reminded me a lot of the DynaVox I programmed 10 years ago, but this app was much easier to use.

Avaz is highly customizable.  It has five voices to choose from. There are a child and adult voice for both male and female USA accents as well as a female Indian accent.  The speed of the voice can be adjusted along with the size of the pictures and caption text within buttons.  There is an option to enlarge the buttons when they are selected.  The default starting screen can be changed and returned to after each selection.  A message box can be used or taken away, allowing the choice of building a complete sentence before speaking or speaking after each selection.  Other options include high contrast, speaking as you type, speaking action keys, and using a password to access the settings.  The app makes it easy to switch between it’s picture and keyboard mode. The keyboard can be in either a QWERTY or ABC format.

I have contacted the app developer with a few ideas for improvement. The menu, home, and back buttons that most Android devices could be utilized better.  The back button can be used to exit the setting menu, but if pressed anywhere else it exits the app.  The home screen also exits the app and the menu button does nothing.  While within Avaz, the volume buttons on my tablet accessed the ringtone volume instead of the volume for the app (media), preventing me from making adjustments.  I recommended that they add the option of locking within the android app, to prevent accidental exit.

I was only able to try this app on my Lenovo A1.  I used this app as a starting AAC system for a child with autism.  It worked well for him and I could see this app working as day to day communication for someone at the picture or keyboarding levels.  The app is currently $99.99 in both Google Play and Amazon Appstore for Android.  I know $99.99 is a lot of money but when you compare it to the current DynaVox which costs over $4,000, it makes it look cheap.  With a great $200 Android tablet like the Kindle Fire HD, Nexus 7 or  $180 for the Samsung Tab 2,  you can get a AAC device and a tablet for less than the price of an iPad Mini.