Authors: McLeod S, Kelly G, Ahmed B, Ballard KJ
Title: Equitable access to speech practice for rural Australian children using the SayBananas! mobile game
Source: International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology 2023 25(3): 388-402
Year: 2023
Research Design: Case Series

Purpose: To evaluate the effect, usage, and user-experience for SayBananas!, a Mario-style mobile game providing Australian children access to high-dose individualised speech therapy practice. Method: Participants were 45 rural Australian children with speech sound disorders (SSD; 4;4–10;5 years) with internet access. This mixed-methods study involved: (a) recruitment, (b) eligibility screening, (c) questionnaire, (d) online preassessment, (e) SayBananas! intervention using motor learning principles (4 weeks, 10–15 target words), and (f) online post-assessment and interview. Usage and performance were automatically monitored. Result: Most participants were highly engaged with SayBananas! completing a median of 44.71 trials/session (~45% of the 100 trial/session target, range 7–194). After intervention, participants made significant gains on treated words and on formal assessment of percentage of consonants, vowels, and phonemes correct. There was no reliable change for parentrated intelligibility or children’s feelings about talking. The number of practice sessions was significantly correlated with percent change on treated words. On average, children rated the app as “happy/good/fun” providing detailed drawings of playing SayBananas!. Families provided high ratings of engagement, functionality, aesthetics, and quality. Conclusion: SayBananas! is a viable and engaging solution for rural Australian children with SSD to gain access to equitable, cost-effective speech practice. The amount of app use was associated with amount of speech production improvement over a 4 week period.

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