Prentke Romich Company is a company that makes AAC devices. These devices have served tons (I'm not going to hazard a guess at how many, as I have no clue) of nonverbal children and adults. Their language system is very, very smart. For many years, users of their devices (and non-users, as well) have clamored for PRC to step into the iPad revolution and provide an AAC app, using their language system, that would be competitively priced (as opposed to the hefty price tag of their dedicated communication devices). They have released a few apps over the past year, but nothing that would serve as an actual communication app.
If you're a reader of the blog, you also know that PRC is suing the company that makes my daughter's communication app, Speak for Yourself. Interestingly, PRC has seemed determined to remove SFY from the market entirely (per a statement made by Speak for Yourself):
"To be clear, every business solution proposed by PRC required shutting down the App. From our point of view, shutting it down would be irresponsible. For that reason, and that reason alone, PRC’s “business solution” was not acceptable to SFY then and it is obviously not an acceptable situation for the AAC community now."It was a position that seemed rather aggressive, considering that the company had no competing AAC apps in the iTunes store, nor did they indicate any plans to enter the app market with a full communication app. It's a position that makes a lot more sense this evening.
Earlier today, PRC released a full communication app into the iTunes store, featuring their language system.
This. Is. Huge.
This is huge for current or former ambulatory users of PRC devices who are familiar with the language system and would like to transition to using an iPad as their communication solution, rather than carrying the burden (literally) of a heavy device-this app should fit perfectly for them. This is also huge for individuals, both children and adults, who are able to warm quickly to PRC's language system and will be able to use this app as their voice.
Whenever a new, well-researched, intelligent AAC app comes onto the market, it is a huge boost for all nonverbal people---because having choices, having the ability to pick a system that is intuitive for each individual user, will ensure that more nonverbal children (and adults) are able to find a system that works for them, and makes sense for them. When you think about it, that's the goal---to find something that lets people speak independently, as quickly and efficiently as possible, and with a rapid learning curve. If you couldn't talk, the last thing that you would want is to have one particular app hoisted upon you---you would want to be able to try a few and then say "this one works!" Accordingly, I am happy for the future users of the LAMP app, and I am glad that this company has dove into the iPad market.
What does it mean for us? For Maya?
She has a communication app that she has internalized as her own, with a language system that makes sense to her (and is becoming increasingly intuitive for me). She understands the icon language of this app, knows how to open and close all of the words, and has moved from only having 30ish words open (when we started using the app) to slightly over 500 words open. Speak for Yourself is how she talks, and we still are hoping for a resolution to the ongoing court case that will result in the return of SFY to the iTunes store, and the continued sale of it on the Android market.
As for the court case, if you're the type to poke around in legal filings you would have seen that there was an interesting development in the case earlier this week. After meeting for court-ordered mediation, Speak for Yourself and PRC/SCS jointly filed a request with the court to get a 30 day stay (delay) in the court case, citing that they had already scheduled another mediation session. So the court case is now paused, and the mediation clock is ticking---slightly under 30 days left. Between this and the PRC app release, I can't really make heads nor tails of what may be going on, but I'm going to keep holding out hope that both of these apps will be available to serve the families who need them to talk with their nonverbal loved ones.