My purpose with this post, however, is not to profile the app or tell you how wonderful it is (and it is very useful!) but rather to highlight a feature that some of you that use it may not be aware of, and may not want.
The latest version of Proloquo2Go includes “expressions”, which allow certain phrases to be said with the appropriate intonation, for example “Go away!” or “Muuuuuuum!”, rather than using the synthetic speech engine. However, with some voices, expressions such as “F*** off!” are also included. Indeed, the list of expletives is colourful and extensive.
The “rude” expressions are not included with every voice, but they are there for “Harry”, the British English child’s voice, “Josh” and “Ella”, the American English children’s voices and “Liam” and “Olivia” the Australian English children’s voices. For some reason, “Rosie”, the British English female child’s voice is not affected.
I have spoken with AssistiveWare, the developer, about the propriety of these expressions being attached to a very young-sounding voice, particularly when “Rosie”, Harry’s female counterpart, does not have these expressions. Their official line is that:
“we should make it possible for Proloquo2Go users to say things that are considered inappropriate in many situations (and get in trouble just like other kids). However, we would leave it to parents/teachers to decide whether or not they want to expose this kind of vocabulary by creating buttons for it.”
Whilst I tend to agree with their point of view, such language is clearly not appropriate for very young children to use in any context, and I’m sure we all know some older children that would have a field day if they located this vocabulary. Therefore I wanted to highlight its existence to you so you can make an informed choice about whether or not to allow its use.
It should be noted that these “expressions” are somewhat hidden away and do not appear as standard anywhere. You have to know where to find them and add them manually.
So, basically, if this is a concern for you, there are 3 options:
- Do not allow the child or young person to edit/add buttons by turning off “edit mode” under “restrictions” in the settings.
- Choose another voice.
- Discuss the existence of these expressions with the child or young person, and explain that were they to use them in a classroom context, the repercussions would the same as for anyone else who swore.
Please do highlight this post to other professionals who may find this of interest, and do not hesitate to contact me if you wish to discuss this further.