Here Comes the Sun!
A couple years ago, I had the chance to see Barbra Fernandes M.S., CCC-SLP, from SmartyEars present a number of apps including “Sunny.” I was intrigued, but I at the time I was focused more on apps for treatment and wasn’t really looking into those for assessment.
But I jumped when I was given the chance to try it this year. While it won’t/can’t take the place of the Goldman-Fristoe that I typically use, both because it is a standardized measure and so widely known in the field, it is an incredibly valuable resource to have at my fingertips.
First, a quick overview as to how it works.
Sunny has two options, full evaluation or screening mode. Both work the same way, the difference is the number of words (46 vs. 30) and phonemes (103 vs. 65) that each looks at. So, the first thing you do is enter a student by entering their name and date of birth. You will also be asked if English is the first language. It only takes a second, and the app immediately calculates the age. Next, you choose “new test” and select full assessment or screening. Again, it’s quick, two taps and you’re ready to start. (For this demo, I’m looking at a full assessment.)
Up comes the first picture, “snake,” with a great, clear photo and the word printed beneath (this can be turned off in settings if desired). Above the photo is the phonetic transcription with the phonemes for assessment in green, in this case /sn/ and /k/. If there are no phonemes in error, simply press the blue arrow at the bottom to advance to the next picture. If there is an error, touch the phoneme in which it appears, here I’ve selected /k/ as the error, and up pops options for error type. I’m selecting “fronting” since my fictitious student says “snate.” On to the next photo.
Here we have “bicycle.” Uh-oh. My “student” had a number of errors including the deletion of the final /l/ which isn’t an assessed phoneme for this word.
Not a problem. First, I would touch the assessed phonemes that were incorrect and record the error type. Next, I would open the “notes” section on the right side of the screen. Up pops an area to type in a quick note. I’ve added final consonant deletion for my reference, though it will not be tallied into the overall data.
The assessment simply continues along in the manner throughout, allowing you a quick way to record errors and the ability to add notes to any slide as needed. Note: In the upper right hand corner is a red icon with two arrows. Press this and the clinician prompts are inverted so you can sit across from the student. Following the last slide, you will be asked to make a subjective determination as to intelligibility as a percentage.
Once the assessment is complete, the results are immediately tabulated. You can view accuracy by position, manner, voicing, place or words (phonetic transcription). Touch, “preview report” and you’ll see a well written summary of the performance including a description of the test and, if desired, developmental norms for the acquisition of sounds.
The speed at which you are done, and by done, I mean done—administration, scored, written documentation—is heavenly.
Additional pros: I can’t emphasize enough how fast the whole procedure is. The time saved is just extraordinary. At a price of $49.99, it may seem like a relatively pricey app. However, the Goldman-Fristoe forms (let’s forget a price comparison of the test itself since you aren’t comparing apples to apples, given that the G-F is standardized) run a little over $1.50 each. It’s not exorbitant, but when you are assessing and re-assessing kids regularly it gets expensive really quickly. Sunny allows me to re-assess in an economical fashion or screen a child that hasn’t been referred for a full articulation evaluation.
Cons: Well, it’s not standardized, but I’m hoping this will be rectified in time. I also hope that a future version will have a sounds in sentences component. I noted two other quirks. When I have the transcription flipped to face me, the options for error patterns face me, too (which is super), however when I click on “notes” I need to tilt the screen to get it to orient towards me and then tilt back to the original position. Not a big deal, just takes an extra moment. Also, when I was scoring /r/ or /l/ blends, I noticed that “gliding” wasn’t given as an error option, though it was easy to work around with a note.
I’m doing screenings the next couple of weeks, and more assessments are sure to follow in the next month. I’m curious, what is the most common assessment tool you use?