LAMP Words For Life vs. Speak For Yourself


Many people want to know more about the differences of the LAMP Words For Life app and the Speak For Yourself (SfY) app. Both are AAC applications for iOS that are compatible with iPads. Speak For Yourself (SfY) is also compatible with the iPod/iPhone, which LAMP is not. LAMP is compatible with the Accent products from Prentke Romich Company as well as other dedicated devices (e.g., Talk to Me Technologies) and can be downloaded on their software. These apps essentially turn your iPad into a speech generating device (SGD). It does not alter the software of the iPad- but when downloading these applications you should know that this device is now used for speaking. Many of issues arise when you try to mix entertainment with speaking/communication, but more about that later.

LAMP and SfY are both based on the principals of motor planning. This makes for a strong case when introducing this app to children or adults. I often compare motor planning to how we learn how to type. We start to learn where the keys are, and don’t even need to look down while we are typing, if we have learned this motor skill. This is what eventually can happen with LAMP and SfY. This is unlike other apps that require scanning and have words in multiple locations within an app (e.g., ProLoQuo2Go has many “want” buttons within folders in different locations). Both also provide core vocabulary. This also makes these apps different from others- they exclusively support core vocabulary and include less “fringe” (vocabulary that isn’t core vocabulary) than other apps.

I also noticed that both SfY and LAMP chose symbols that support reduced page scanning/searching. For example, the symbol on the “first” page gives you a clue to what buttons/words will be found after your hit that button. This is often subtle, but you start to notice it after a few times of using it. Parents and teachers often ask why the developers chose certain symbols, and the answer isn’t always obvious (e.g., “down” in SfY has underwater creatures on the next page- because they are “down” below in the sea). But, after a while, the symbol become less and less important, and what remains the same is the motor plan. Symbols are often abstract (even symbolstix® are abstract- they are line drawings) and can require some advanced reasoning, a thought that can perplex those of us that assume some of our AAC using friends cannot understand the symbol (hint: never assume!). Even if you have these assumptions, the symbols in SfY and LAMP should not be the main concern. The location of the words is what the individual will use to access their vocabulary, NOT THE SYMBOL (again, think of how we use a QWERTY keyboard).

The largest difference I noticed between SfY and LAMP was the amount of words on the first/display page. LAMP has 84 words, and SfY has 120 (including the keyboard). SfY has less options regarding how many words you can begin with to introduce the app- they have one “Beginner’s Vocabulary Template”, which they encourage you to use when you introduce the application, but not after the individual learns and has used the full template. LAMP comes with the LAMP WFL (words for life) 1-hit, which is 84 core words, LAMP WFL Transition, which has some added vocabulary to the 1-hit, and LAMP WFL Full, which has thousands of words, including +s, +er, +est.

The size of the buttons for each app is also different. SfY has smaller buttons than LAMP. This allows them to fit more buttons on a page, but does cost the user in how accurate their selection must be with their hand/fingers. LAMP will require more selections to reach fringe vocabulary than SfY because they have less words per page.

LAMP and SfY both offer ways to temporarily hide words. LAMP uses a feature called Vocab Builder, and SfY uses a feature called Open/Close. These allow you to select which words you would like to mask, or hide. This is a very helpful feature when learning motor plans to words you would like to target within a session/event. Some SLPs have used the SfY as a customized beginning template, and when the AAC user toggles the feature “babble,” all words can open up without altering the words you chose to “hide” with the close feature. “Hold that Thought” is also a feature unique to SfY. It allows the user to save a message for later, in case they don’t want to forget what they had to say, or are in the middle of a conversation and want to mention something later in the conversation. Another feature of SfY is that you can text messages said in SfY. This could be a huge game changer for our adolescent and adult AAC users.

Although symbols are not the end all, be all (see above), the symbols for each app are different. LAMP uses the Unity Symbols®, and SfY uses Smarty Symbols®. How each app decides to utilize symbols is also different. SfY uses the same symbols for words that have the same meaning but different tenses (e.g., sing, sings, singing, sang, sung). LAMP has a different symbol for tenses, but uses the same icon (the buckets) for each word to indicate the tense (e.g., the bucket filled with water is +s, the bucket spilling water is present progressive, the bucket that has spilled the water is past tense, and the empty bucket is “to __”). Color coding within the symbols also plays a role. For example, in both apps, yellow symbols indicate pronouns (i.e., me, my, I, we, you, they, it, he, she).

I hope this helps you determine which application you want to try on your device. Please keep in mind this article does not list all differences and similarities, but goes over some features I felt were worth mentioning at this time. I recommend trying both if you want to see which one your client or child prefers. Both are the same price in the iOS store, $299.99. If you are a SLP or AT evaluator, go to their websites and contact them. They may provide you a free code for device trials on your personal iPad. I typically recommend a device trial before purchasing an app or dedicated device.


Will you give LAMP or SfY a shot with your caseload?!


P.S. I have no financial obligations to SfY or LAMP Words for Life, or the companies associated.

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