Tuesday, August 28, 2012

One small upload to the iTunes store, one giant leap for an AAC company

This is a semi-update (one with a small series of twists and turns) to the Prentke Romich Company & Semantic Compaction Systems vs. Speak For Yourself lawsuit.  If you are new to this storyline or need a refresher course:  here is the original post about the lawsuit, here is a post about how PRC/SCS asked Apple to take down the app (and they did), here is a post about why my daughter & two other children are legally moving to intervene in the court case, and here is a post about how PRC/SCS asked Google Play to take down the Android app (and they did).  All caught up?

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? 

Well, nothing.

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. 



Anonymous said...

Can this app be put on more than one device for $300? This PRC language app is worth $500 all day long. I hope they come out with more apps and clever ways of teaching language. I've watched this company grow, and someone's (the ESOP team?) is guiding them who respects the people they serve and has/have a great view of the future. This app is slicker than...... Everyone has a right to choose their communication system, of course. Will PRC support this app? I would be inclined to think better support, with clinical tools and research, than any other AAC app or perhaps any app on the whole app store. Congratulations to PRC.

Usethebrains Godgiveyou said...

Perhaps they will swallow up SFY...at a reasonable price for those already using it.

Lisa said...

No sign of this app in the UK app store yet and SfY is still missing. It's a nightmare for those of us trying to promote the iPad as a communication tool for our kids. We use SfY in a very basic format for one of our daughter's needs, but if the app gets 'broken' by an iPad update, we're stuffed, and we paid a hefty price for it as well.