To change or not to change - a developer’s dilemma in Proloquo2Go 5

We have competing priorities when we release a new version of Proloquo2Go. On the one hand, we want to keep making Proloquo2Go better, easier to use, and to include features our customers want. On the other hand, we know that especially for people with communication and other disabilities, it can be difficult to adjust to changes in the tools they use. It can take a lot of time for people who use AAC to learn how to use their communication app. When we change the app, this can be disruptive for some of the people who rely on it. 
 
In Proloquo2Go 5, we have one such change coming. We thought we’d give you some background on the change and why we’ve made it. 

The Views and Sharing menus

The change involves the Views menu and the Sharing menu. In Proloquo2Go 4, the Views menu gave access to the different views: typing, grid, and recents. On the iPhone, you used the Views menu to get to Options as well. The Sharing menu allowed you to share what you’ve put into the message window via other iOS apps, like Mail, Messages, or Facebook. You could also use the Sharing menu to trigger Proloquo2Go-specific features like Add Button, Copy, and Switch Language.
 
Over the years, we’ve had some very appropriate complaints about both the Views menu and the Sharing menu. Neither menu lines up exactly with the Proloquo2Go grid. This means that people who use keyguards can have difficulty accessing the buttons on these menus. The Sharing menu is the most problematic. It’s actually created by iOS, so there is very little that AssistiveWare can change about its appearance or how it’s accessed. In particular, the icons are small and their size can’t be changed. Proloquo2Go’s accessibility features (scanning, hold duration, and select on release) also can’t be used for the Sharing menu.
 
We knew we would need to do something about the Sharing and Views menu to improve accessibility for our users. And we had new features we added for 5.0 that we needed to provide access to. To address both issues, we’ve created a new Tools popup.

Easier access to actions

You access the Tools popup by tapping the icon on the lower left corner of the toolbar (the same location where the Views icon used to live). The Tools popup uses the same grid size as the home page of your vocabulary. This means the buttons are the same size as your regular grid buttons, and line up with your keyguard. You can scan the Tools popup, and Hold Duration and Select on Release also work just as they do on the grid.
 
Screenshot of the new Tools Pop-up
 
The Tools popup contains all the buttons that used to be in the Views menu - Typing View, Grid View, Recents View, (and for the iPhone, Options). In addition, we’ve moved as many of the features that we could from the Sharing menu to the Tools popup. You can now switch languages, copy text from the message window, and add a button from the message window using icons in the Tools popup. You can also delete the last item added to the message window, or clear the whole message window with just one tap. 
 
We also use the Tools popup for access to two new Proloquo2Go 5 features: Search. It also gives access to Explore mode, a new feature that’s part of Progressive Language. Without the Tools popup, it would have been difficult for us to give access to these new features. As before, you can turn access to these features on or off in Options > Restrictions.

Model to show the changes

As you can see, there are a lot of positives about this switch to a Tools popup. But there’s no denying that it is a change! Our users will need to learn new motor and visual patterns for switching between the grid, keyboard, and recents views, and for switching between languages. We recommend using modeling to show the new way to access these views. You show the user how to find the different views by doing it yourself during natural conversations.

The Share menu still exists in Proloquo2Go 5. There are important features that require us to use the iOS share menu interface, including posting to Facebook, sending mail, text messages, and tweets. If you’ve ever wondered how to get rid of icons in the Sharing menu, or change their order, here’s how: 

We hope this has helped you understand why we sometimes need to change Proloquo2Go’s appearance. Sometimes different is better!
 
~ Jennifer Marden
 
Jennifer is VP of Clinical Development at AssistiveWare. She became a Speech-Language Pathologist in 1999, after 14 years as a software engineer at Hewlett-Packard. Jennifer specializes in AAC for children and adults with a wide variety of communication disorders, and has provided AAC services in school, hospital, clinic, home, and adult day program settings.

 

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