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(#43)  Two Easy & Excellent Recording Apps to Use in Therapy

Greetings, SLP!

Recording our speech-kids in therapy is a no-brainer. But what’s the “best” app to use to record them? Are some recording apps better than others? I think so.
 
In fact, using the most appropriate app can make our therapy-lives as SLPs easier and therapy results more successful.
 
Mulling through a myriad of recording apps takes time. Maybe you’ve done it and zeroed-in on some you like. But¸ maybe you haven’t.
 
I’ve mulled quite a bit and tried several apps. I’ll share two of my top recording app picks. If you agree, terrific. If you don’t, terrific. Write me and let me know! I’d love to hear what you use.
 
In addition, I’ll share some helpful ways, benefits, and tips for using recording devices in therapy.
 
But first, following is the criteria I used to select the best recording apps to meet my therapeutic needs. See if you agree. (Please keep in mind, I’m not a techie. I’m a therapist!)
  • Free, or at least offered at a reasonable price.
  • Minimal advertising on the free apps.
  • Complete, not “lite.”
  • Visually pleasing.
  • Easy to navigate; for ease and quickness of use and so my kids can use it successfully, when appropriate. Surprisingly, in several apps it’s challenging to find the playback button, i.e. it’s not clear where to touch. In some cases access to the playback button is on a whole different page. Or, sometimes the buttons are small and require adept fine motor skills. For example, two apps, iTalk and QuickRecorder are good, but their navigation, to me, is not intuitive. Good navigation saves time, among other things.
  • Easy to access and distinctly placed larger Record, Pause, and Play buttons. Color-coded buttons with icons are ideal.
  • Good sound quality.
  • The ability to title, date, and personalize each recording.
  • The ability to write notes for each recording (very few have this feature, unfortunately).
  • The ability to archive the recordings.
  • The ability to email the recordings to parents, teachers, etc.
  • The ability to transfer the recordings to my Dropbox or iCloud, etc.
  • The ability to delete a recording (deletion should not be too easy so it’s not accidentally removed).
  • Unlimited recording time.
Additional Criteria: (not a deal breaker if not included)
  • A spectrograph (visual representation of the recording).
  • A VU meter so you can “see” loudness.
  • Voice-to-text capability.
There’s probably more, but that’ll do.
 
Here are my TOP TWO RECORDING APPS:

QuickVoice2Text Email (PRO Recorder)

(Red icon with white microphone)
By nFinity Inc.; $2.99; for iPhones and iPads
It has a similar “sister” app that’s free (the QuickVoice Recorder); see info below
 
This app records voice, of course, but its claim-to-fame, and the reason why I like it, is that it has the ability to transcribe a vocal recording into text. In other words, once you and the child have completed the recording, you send yourself a specialized email, and voila, you now have the printed words of the recording. I know of no other app that does this. You’ll have both the audio recording and the printed page. What a concept! (Dragon Dictation only transcribes your live voice to text; there is no audio recording.)
 
I like this feature for both my speech and language kids. For my speech-kids it’s easy to use, but I especially like to use it with my language kids toRECORD AND TRANSCRIBE SHORT LANGUAGE SAMPLES. Keep in mind, recordings of speech kids with significant errors do not transcribe 100% accurately. But, on the positive side, you don’t have to transcribe the entire sample yourself; most of the words are transcribed for you. All you have to do is identify and correct the errored ones.
  • The audio quality is good. Within the Settings gear icon, you can choose from Low, Medium, High, and Highest quality. The higher the quality, the larger the file. I just keep mine on the Medium quality (default).
  • Can easily scroll and see all of my previous recordings; they’re listed and archived nicely.
  • Has big red and green (Record and Play) can’t-miss buttons at the bottom. When recording, the “Play” button becomes a “Pause” button. Great navigation; most of the functions take place on one page.
  • When the recording it done, you’ll see a title “My Recording:” You’ll also see an “i” in a circle on the right side of the title; click on it. Type in a meaningful title; usually the kid’s name and brief subject (John Jones, /r/ efforts).
  • Unfortunately there is no place to write notes about the child and the recording.
  • Also on the list, each recording is identified with its Date and Time, length of recording, and the size of the file.
  • Now, click on the square with the arrow at the bottom. When it opens, it gives you several options. You can email the recording (which is a great feature) but, toaccess the voice-to-text feature, swipe over to the white envelope labeled “Voice to Text Email.” Fill in the to and from emails. They have to be different. Such as, you might use either your school/work email for one, and your personal email for the other. When it arrives, the transcribed voice recording will be in the body of your email. Cool.
 
The “sister” app is the non-voice-to-textQuickVoice Recorder. It’s free and has a blue icon with a white microphone. You may want to try it first for a short while. If you like it, and you want to try the voice-to-text feature, purchase ($2.99) theQuickVoice2Text Email (PRO Recorder) app.
 

Voice Changer Plus

By Arf Software, Inc.; for iPhones and iPads
It’s Free. For a $1.99 upgrade you will not be interrupted by intermittent full screen ads. (I recommend you spring for the two bucks.)
 
At first glance this app appears to be pretty basic, and it is (which I like) but it also has some helpful features that I can apply in therapy.
  • It opens on a page that focuses strictly on recording. The options on the front page are easy to see and figure out. (See the above example.)
  • If you want to access your previously recorded list, click on “List” in the upper right corner.
  • The recording buttons are color-coded rather than printed (easy for my kids).
  • Across the top is a basic spectrograph with a time-line underneath. Yes, you can see some difference between a good /r/ production and a distorted one. This comes in handy.
  • Also (you can’t see it in the above graphic), but, when recording, a green-line loudness indicator moves across the top above the spectrograph. This can be helpful for kids that talk too loud, or not loud enough.
  • Now, for the fun part. When you touch the large graphic in the center, it takes you to another page (see above example on the right for the voice change choices; there are many more below what is shown). The first graphic yields a “normal” speech recording. After that, each graphic alters the sound of the audio in a fun way. A robot, sounds like robot-speech. Or, you can hear what you like when the pitch is high or low, what your voice would sound like underwater (see example) or if you were talking through a megaphone, etc. For therapy, I like to use the slower speech one. It expands/lengthens the sound. This can helpful with kids at the sound-stim, isolated level. Kids enjoy hearing and trying to imitate the crazy sounds. And imitation is always a good thing.
  • Unfortunately, there’s no place to type notes.
  • You can, however, email the recordings home, for example, so parents can hear, or the child can practice.
  • Also you can save the recordings in your Dropbox or iCloud Drive.
Kids LOVE to hear their voice altered. It adds a bit of whimsy and can be an excellent motivator for kids reluctant to record their speech.
 
Additionally, it can be used to encourage compliance during therapy. Tell them they can do the Voice Changer at the end of the session if they _____ (fill-in-the-blank). Ya know what I mean!
 

Suggestions for Using Voice Recording in Therapy

My basic philosophy in using recordings in therapy is that it’s beneficial for the child to hear and analyze his own speechexternally and delayed. For kids, sometimes it’s just hard to determine the quality of their own speech in real-time, as they’re saying it. We expect kids to self-monitorin the moment. And that can be tricky. Recordings add an extra dimension to speech awareness and speech discrimination.
 
Discovery: Some children come into the speech program and have no clue what others hear when he/she talks. They wonder what they’re doing there! I’ve had kids respond in disbelief to the sound and clarity of their own voice. My goal is not to make any child feel bad, but I do want them to be aware of their speech differences. Otherwise, how will they change?
 
Progress Documentation: I like to record my speech-kids when they first come into the program and intermittently along the way as they improve. Listening to the early recordings can be encouraging for the child, the parents, the teachers, and for me. Consider playing the “old” and “new” recordings of the child’s speech at IEP meetings.
 
Use During Therapy Early On: I’m talking about during isolated sound-stim tasks.  Recording reflects their own voice back to them. This is especially helpful for the r-child who has difficulty auditorily discriminating the “difference” between his/her distorted /r/ and the good one.
 
A Speech Practice Motivator: In this one, I’m referring to the child that is able to say the speech sound correctly and is working to solidify it. The child uses pictures, or words, or sentences that you provide. Nothing better than using a recording to reflect the child’s productions. It lets him/her and you hear how they are doing and improving.
 
In Therapy, do ‘Negative Practice:’ Ask the child to do his “old” speech sound and then contrast it with the “new” good speech sound. Listen to the recording and identify the difference(s). “Which one sounds best to you?” “What were you doing with your tongue when making this speech sound?” Etc.
 
Use as a Practice Center: For kids that have recently acquired their speech sound and they need repetitive practice, but you want to make sure they’re doing the sound correctly, you may want to (if you have room) designate an independent “practice center” away from your main therapy table. Keep in mind, If you do seat the child independently, consider using a touch screen device that does NOT contain all of your archived recordings. Accidents do happen.
 
Dear Android Users: I have to apologize if you are an Android user. I didn’t forget you, I just have not used an Android device and I like to share what I’m familiar with. Therefore, if you have suggestions, please send them to me and I’ll post them. Thank you!
 
To wrap-up, following are a few random but fairly important points:
 
1. As you record your kids, if you’re on a phone, make sure it doesn’t ring during recording time. To temporarily not receive calls go into Settings and click on Airplane Mode. Don’t forget to switch it back (like I usually do!).
 
2. Also, if using your phone, aim the bottom of your phone toward the child, and keep it about 6 to 7 inches away from his/her mouth.
 
3. Do not use headphones/earbuds while recording, for obvious reasons. They’re great during playback, but not-great for the child’s auditory monitoring while speaking and recording.
 
4. Some schools and school districts may require parent permission to audio record the children. With that said, in most of the schools I’ve been in, I needed parent permission for video recording but not for audio recording. But school policies vary; if you haven’t already asked it might be smart to find out.
 
Until next week, thank you for all you do with your kids. You are greatly appreciated!
 
All the best to you,
Char Boshart

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19 November, 2019

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19 November, 2019

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