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Grace – Picture Exchange for Non-Verbal People: Review

Bottom line: Developed by a mother of two autistic children, it is a customizable picture exchange communication system that focuses on Non-verbal people.

Grace App is a Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) which gives the freedom for independent communication using pictures over voice which focuses on children with autism or speech delay. This App is completely non-verbal and very efficient for users as they learn to communicate with others in the environment they are comfortable with. It not only saves time but is also popular for its simplicity and organizational qualities. Children can carry it around with them and rely on the picture vocabulary for communication. 


The app was designed by Lisa Domican for her daughter Grace who had autism which is how the App got its name and was developed by Steve Troughton-Smith. The app is not for people seeking an augmentative communication system which requires verbally speaking the message. This App is totally non-verbal and can be valued by therapists as well as caregivers as it helps save time. It is also useful for symbolic communicators who are at an early stage of learning. Any person who may have autism or speech delay and has to rely on symbols for communicating can use the app which consists of picture cards. These cards can be used to form sentences and make communication easier.

Setting up a Picture Exchange Communication System manually is a Herculean effort. It requires a lot of time, effort, and dedication while testing your patience. For instance, finding a picture, cutting and laminating it, and storing it properly so that you can find it when you need to use it isn’t an easy task. Not only must you safely store the pictures, sometimes you may need to create copies for some categories all while hoping for the system to provide a meaningful expression. However, Grace App can achieve all these with very little effort and is highly portable.

The app stores the basic picture vocabulary of several categories that includes a library of pictures in a sequence. It could be a list of foods, beverages, places, colors, or anything else of your choosing. You can always show the image of the product you would like. However, if you would like a beverage but you only have only Coca-Cola stored in your app, you can search for the product in the library. It also enables finding and taking pictures or searching for the image from the internet. You can always add pictures in the library and you won't have to rely on the traditional way of printing, cutting, and laminating the image.

Learning to communicate in a specific and effective manner is an ongoing process. However, Grace App makes the learning process much simpler. The designer has authored a comprehensive manual that includes technical guidance as well as tips, steps, and ideas to implement this communication system. If you accidentally delete a picture, it is still an easy task to add a new one and hence you will not lose anything. It is a portable means to support the communication development of its users rendering it a great app for independent control as well as for verbal behavior.

Instead of depending on the device to speak the message, this App can also be user-controlled. This requires some training but once the user learns how to communicate using words or sentences; s/he can do it independently. Whenever the user shares a message with the listener, the listener should verbally speak the message while encouraging the user to do so as well. Thus, this app when used consistently could make social exchanges easier for the user.

Even though the app was the winner of the World Summit Award 2010, Grace App is still not a five star App. One of the reasons for this could be that the app does not have an additional bank of abstract images. Users can always add extra images by searching for them but there is no way to label them within the app itself. In order to label it, you need to download a different app (for further information please click: http://www.scribd.com/doc/118356932/Update-to-Grace-App-Manual). While interacting with a listener who isn’t familiar to the user, s/he may not understand what the image intends to represent because it lacks the textual label.



In conclusion, Grace App is a wonderful app for children with autism or speech delay. If you are looking for a communication system for beginners or intermediates, Grace is the right App for you. It can be easily set up or adjusted as per the child’s needs and is highly portable as it can be used on your iPhone, iPad or iTouch. The app helps in social interaction and is easily customizable as well. You could always visit the website (www.graceapp.com) should you have any questions or are looking for tutorials.

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