ClaroCom Pro is an app from Claro Software designed for AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication), available on iOS for iPad or iPhone. An AAC app helps to replace speech or assist writing for those with impairments in the production or comprehension of spoken or written language. Read more at claro-apps.com.
We’ve received the following helpful review of ClaroCom from Loretta and Krystal.
Loretta has limited use of natural speech so uses ClaroCom to communicate and says “ClaroCom has been highly beneficial with these new things I have to keep in mind about my voice and not over-using it”.
Krystal is unable to speak at all but is now leader of a volunteer call centre providing information technology help desk services to anyone who needs them. Krystal can consistently keep under an 8 minute call time averaging about 5-6 minutes when the goal is 10 minutes using nothing but text to speech (ClaroCom).
ClaroCom Pro AAC App Review by Loretta and Krystal, 11th August 2014
DISCLAIMER: I AM NOT an expert in alternative and augmentative communications (AAC) solutions. What works for myself or Krystal MIGHT NOT be the best choice for everyone else. Furthermore the opinions expressed herein are those of myself or Krystal as appropriate. We have no affiliation with the developers of any application mentioned and we were not “bought” to make these opinions, we came to them from actual experience with the products mentioned.
Man… Krystal had me on an adventure into the deep dark corners of the iOS App store. This assignment was because she finally said “it’s time for a communications upgrade for me! A dedicated AAC app is in order!” so off into the app store I went looking for free apps. There were truly free and the “free apps that are just to show you what the paid version can do”. I only focused on the apps that required a zero dollar investment to install.
Two days ago I spent close to 6 hours testing installing and configuring close to 80 different apps from the app store. There was the good, the bad, and the downright incomprehensible. There were those that were feature packed and those that could use a little more meat on the bones.
I was just about ready to call it a night for testing when through an unlikely search I found an app I fell in love with (see Note 1) and was sure Krystal would too. This app is called ClaroCom. The free version is only limited in a few “minor use” functions… nothing too bad (see Note 2). The free ClaroCom app comes populated with close to 1,024 pre-canned messages in several different categories from restaurants, technology, medical, entertainment, general phrases, and many others. I could add my own phrases to any of these categories and have them be dynamic or static.
A static phrase is something that has no variables like “my name is Loretta, I live on Maple drive in no where California”. Something that never needs revision based on context. A dynamic phrase is kind of like that game madlibs and textually looks like this “I need to know if Dr. ___ has any available appointments on or before ___ in the ___.” If I had multiple doctors this might allow for something like “I need to know if Dr. (Briggs, Shay, Benson, Puckett, Jones) has any available appointments on or before (next Friday, the 15th, June 1st,) in the (morning, afternoon, late afternoon, evening).” where any of those items in the parentheses could fill in that part of the sentence or request.
For dynamic speech the ClaroCom dialog will pop up asking “fill in the first blank…” if there’s only one blank, just fill it in. If there is more than one it steps you through them in order. When you fill the first blank and then it asks you to fill the next it shows you the statement up to the blank so in my doctor example first “I need to know if Dr. ___ has any available appointments on or before ___ in the ___.”, then “I need to know if Dr. Shay has any available appointments on or before ___ in the ___.” then “I need to know if Dr. Shay has any available appointments on or before next Tuesday in the ___.” and finally “I need to know if Dr. Shay has any available appointments on or before next Tuesday in the late afternoon.”
These message creation wizards make even dynamic content creation even easier!
ClaroCom USA comes with two voices by default (one male and one female) both better quality than what most “computer voices” are known for (especially if you grew up in the 1990’s) and tons of options to configure the app to the user needs.
The ClaroCom “Pro” USA version is decently priced at 14 bucks and adds a few extra little “nice to haves”. I fell in love with the free version which had its limitations so wound up later buying the pro version for the extra value.
I gave a presentation to Krystal to see if she liked the app or could find some use for it yesterday. She was absolutely in love with it. She downloaded the free version and tested it and has plans to support the developer by buying the pro version next month.
Note 1: the features I fell in love with are the “madlib style” dynamic content creation, the high quality voices, and the ease of use.
Note 2: the “value added features” that made the ClaroCom Pro version all the more attractive were among other things:
- custom categories: which makes grouping pre-canned messages into categories that make the most sense for me. This also useful so I can have all my stuff specific to say burger king or the call center in it’s own category.
- bulk-add: the adding of messages to the phrase list was easy, but with bulk-adding I can populate a new category with less effort.
- Post to facebook or twitter: this handy little feature allows me to post up my Wendy’s order or the text version of any utterance to Facebook or Twitter. Krystal loved that demo because in her words “the less apps I have to keep open the better… if I don’t have to leave my speech screen to do something I do already, even easier!”
so yeah… the Pro version in my eyes is well worth it!
ClaroCom App Store Links
- ClaroCom Pro UK (includes 2 high-quality British-English voices)
- ClaroCom UK (includes 2 high-quality British-English voices)
- ClaroCom (free) (uses iOS7 system voices)