iPads in Special Education – the discussion that left me speechless

I spent a few moments talking a Principal at a school for kids with special needs this afternoon. These kids are highly dependent – most of them can’t speak.

We were talking about how iPads might be useful to her organisation. She is admirably skeptical – she really doesn’t want anything introduced that won’t make a big difference. It was great for me to hear some of her arguments against iPads – some of them valid. An I was able to clarify a few issues. She enjoyed the video that my four-year-old made.

However, we were talking about costs when she dropped a bombshell – the app that she needs for her kids is $600!

I didn’t believe her until I read it myself. It’s astonishing. This is really not the way to do business in the appstore. It’s volume that makes money in the appstore – not price. The highest grossing apps are under $10. In fact, I the last time I checked, there were no apps for over $200.

But this is an “award winning” app for education that counts as extremely expensive. Dammit it better be good.

This is not an area of expertise for me. I’ve never taught kids that can’t speak. I’ve love to hear from you if you have. Have you used Proloquo2Go? Or something like it?

If you know about this stuff, please share. I’ll be sure to pass your thoughts on.


UPDATE: $249 on the NZ appstore. I can’t find the link that I found earlier this afternoon.


10 Comments to “iPads in Special Education – the discussion that left me speechless”

  1. nlouwrens 18 November 2012 at 6:13 pm #

    Wow! $600?! It must be one AMAZING app that has no equal if anyone would consider paying that. Even Microsoft has started to realise the importance of lower pricing of their software. I realise that parents of these students may consider forking out that sort of money for their children to help them in their learning, however I sometimes think the companies are far more concerned with turning a large profit than really catering to the needs of their market. Lower the price to a reasonable level (maybe under $20?) and it will be purchased in far greater volume, surely? The only other app that I remember with a high price was I think $200 for a very specialised app for dentists.

    • Steve Voisey 18 November 2012 at 7:36 pm #

      Thanks, Nathaniel.
      I think that companies like this (and pharmaceuticals manufacturers) have an ethical obligation to not price their products out of reach.

  2. Allanah King 18 November 2012 at 7:18 pm #

    I had a look at it in the app store and it comes in at NZ$249 which is still hellishly expensive.


    You would want to see it working on an iPad to decide whether it really is an appropriate app for that particular child.

    But then if it was then $200 to give a child a voice when they have not had that opportunity would be a tiny investment to living a life of silent rage!

    Pity you can’t have a limited trial to test its usefulness.

    I try and find if there’s a YouTube tutorial on an apps use before I buy and in the case of iWordQ UK ($31)


    I wrote to the developer and explained that I was not intending to use the app myself but intended to show it to to others. They were able to give me a copy which was lovely of them and resulted in people buying it for themselves which was good for everyone.

  3. Allanah King 18 November 2012 at 8:03 pm #

    If you really want to go cheap there is Verbally which is free.


    Not so visual but works well for those for whom reading is not a challenge.

    It’s a matter of matching the right app to the child.

  4. Leanne 18 November 2012 at 8:54 pm #

    I agree that ethically these types of interventions need to be economically accessible to ALL. There has been such a shift in accessibility since apps have been available at such a low cost. The most expensive app I have seen was $99 and enabled you to contact the developer and custom make it for the needs of the child. I thought that this was “cheap” relative to other assistive tech options. I’d be expecting amazing things for $250!! Bear in mind that most assistive tech is well on advance of $1000 perhaps this app is totally worth it??

  5. Kdavieslcs 19 November 2012 at 12:47 pm #

    Working in education and having seen apps like this, yes, this (and others like it) are amazing and life changing for the students. One reason they are expensive is their limited audience.

    You are looking at all apps as being the same, with the same value. This is an app that gives kids who have no voice the ability to communicate, often for the first time. It’s worth far more than it’s price.

    No dev has an obligation to give their product away or even charge a nominal amount. Most of the apps that do this include ads and in app purchasing to support their company. Apps like this one do not. There are no ads, no in app purchases for parents or schools to worry about…but a lot of amazing functionality.

    An d, as mentioned, this, including the cost of the iPad, is cheap consideering the cost of much other assistive technology.

  6. Gregc 20 November 2012 at 10:42 pm #

    I would want to know quite a bit more about the kid …. If they are not communicating. Is there a speech language therapist involved? Is there not an assistive techmology application being made?
    Prologue is good software I understand and developed by experts. It is also one of the highest grossing apps out there … Driven by its price point i would be guessing. Lost of special needs category software is very expensive for what it is.
    Check with a knowledgable therapist before you purchase. They may even have trial copies?

    • Steve Voisey 20 November 2012 at 10:45 pm #

      What we’re dealing with is about 22 kids. Knowledgable therapists. Lots of expertise.
      No trials or demos. Crazy.

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