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Words for Life

Well, after all the waiting, and all the anxiety and the legal shenanigans (full disclosure: including one that we’re involved in) and everything else, it finally happened.

The Prentke-Romich Company has released an app for the iPad, LAMP Words for Life, finally bringing its Unity language system to the consumer tablet market.

We’ve been using this app for the past week, ever since it was released, and while I want to give it a little longer before I really make any big declarations about it, I can share some initial thoughts.

First of all, it basically works the same way Unity 84 does on the bigger, heavier and pricier PRC devices. (To use Unity 144, or something with fewer squares, I believe you’ll have to continue using a dedicated speech device for the time being.) There are small differences, mostly in some of the secondary directories, and the versatility of the top row has largely been diminished, sadly. But it works like Unity 84, which is what runs on Schuyler’s device, the Vantage Lite. (Interestingly, this device is one of the lines recently discontinued by PRC, a decision that makes a little more sense now that the LAMP app has been released. If you recently purchased a PRC device from the Vantage line and your child is ambulatory enough to use an iPad, I’m not sure what to tell you. I hope you hung on to your receipt.)

Schuyler has quickly adjusted to using LAMP Words for Life on her iPad, although she’s also been switching back to Speak for Yourself from time to time, even though she’s still learning it. Speak for Yourself is an exceptional app in its own right, and it may ultimately be the one Schuyler chooses to use, but here’s one reason I think she’s switching like this, and it’s my biggest concern at the moment about LAMP Words for Life.

I think Schuyler gets frustrated with the app because it crashes. And freezes. A lot.

When I posted on Facebook about this, I received a helpful email from someone letting me know that the problem is most likely the fact that she’s using the first generation iPad, while the app is designed to be used with the iPad 2 or iPad 3 (or whatever it’s called). This is fine in and of itself, but when you go to the LAMP Words For Life page on iTunes, there’s nothing there indicating that this is the case.

This wouldn’t be a huge issue except for the fact that the app costs three hundred dollars. This is in the same range as other AAC apps like Speak for Yourself and Proloquo2Go, but it’s a little more expensive. My concern is that in addition to being more costly, the app is simply too buggy to justify the expense right now. But again, we’re running it on a first generation iPad. How it works for a later model remains for someone else to determine.

So my first impression of LAMP Words for Life? Not quite there, not for the price. But very close, and very promising.

One last thing. Schuyler loves using one of the female voices with a British accent. It cracks her up to hear her words spoken like that, so I let her use that voice. Well, why not? At her school, she’s already the Weird Kid. She might as well be the Weird Foreign Kid, too.


Be sure to check out site co-founder Julia Roberts’ posts about her daughter and Champerina and about traveling Champ on Build-A-Bear Workshop‘s blog! They are a huge supporter of this special needs community!

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