Total Talk is a robust new speech generating an app from Panther Technology, the creators of Tango. Total Talk was created with exceptional new and unique features to help strengthen the communication between AAC users and their communication partners. According to Total Talk’s creator, Panther Technology, “All of us have different approaches for different communication needs. Why shouldn’t that also be true for users of AAC’?” Pati King-DeBaun, Caroline Musselwhite, and Mark Surabian, leading experts in the field of AAC, assisted in creating the organization of the language for this innovative app. This unique app allows AAC users to easily connect to others through email, texts, and social networks. It also allows for new ways to provide teaching support to AAC users as they begin to learn to navigate this speech generating app.
The dock, which can be placed to the left or right side of the screen provides the ability to: quickly access the home page, speak the user's message, delete one word at a time, access the keyboard, and enter quick chat mode (which allows for quick social comments). It also includes the Total Talk button which provides AAC users different modes of communication for a variety of scenarios. Using the Total Talk button, the user can share photos of special events/trips and can access EZ phrases that are created for a variety of common routines including comfort, morning, bedtime, reading, games, and shopping. With the Total Talk button, users can tell a joke or story. Stories can be broken down into segments, and the buttons gray out to show what has already been said. Lastly, the Total Talk button allows for quick access to areas that can store preferred things/activities (My Stuff), Fave Lists, and School Lists.
The Magic Button located at the bottom of the dock provides additional functionality to the original dock buttons.
1. Magic + Home button: Access to settings
2. Magic + Speak button: Output. The user can change the tone or volume of their voice. This also allows for sending messages via email, text, or social media right from the app.
3. Magic + Delete button: Advanced edit readout. This allows the user to move the cursor to what needs to be edited. This function allows for deletion of a character, word, sentence, or paragraph.
4. Magic + Spell button: Punctuation
5. Magic + a word:
- a. Magic + Verb: allows for conjugation and phrases suggestions
- b. Magic + Noun: allows for plurals, possession, and phrase suggestions
- c. Magic + Adjective: allows for comparatives, superlatives, and phrase suggestions
6. Magic + empty button: Enter edit mode where you can easily add a new button or folder. The button wizard allows for easy editing of the label, message, image, style, and action. Images can be taken with the camera, selected from photos, or selected from the app’s image library.
One of the most interesting and unique features of this app is the Tele-Prompt and Tele-Text features that are used in conjunction with Total Talk Orbit (a free companion app). Tele-Prompt allows the communication partner to connect to the Total Talk app via Bluetooth. This allows the communication partner to view the user’s navigation right from their phone. In addition, the communication partner can use the Orbit app on their own phone to draw on the user’s screen to provide prompts as needed when teaching the user how to navigate through pages. Tele-text allows the user to send either individual or group messages directly to nearby iPhones, which can be very beneficial to the user when attempting to communicate in noisy environments.
Total Talk has introduced some new and unique features to the world of speech generating apps. I loved the ability to quickly stop a message by placing a hand or fist on the screen. The editing features were easy to use. The Magic Button provides a quick way to adjust grammar and provide common phrase suggestions for faster more efficient communication. It should be noted that both simple and advanced conjugation options did not include symbols; this would impact its use with pre-literate communicators. I was disappointed that only one character can be selected and that an additional in-app purchase was required to select an additional character. My favorite feature was Tele-Prompt. This wonderful teaching support provides a non-intrusive way for the communication partner to guide the AAC user. Overall, I would recommend this speech generating app as an option for children and adults who are demonstrating some early literacy skills and beyond.
Laurie Spencer is a Speech Language Pathologist who has been practicing for over 15 years. She is employed by Easter Seals of Southeastern PA and works with a wide range of children with special needs including autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, cleft palate, and tracheostomies. She has a passion for working with augmentative communication and helping children find their “voice”.