Return to Headlines

Faculty create app to help with speech therapy


Melanie Clyatt demonstrates the Spark Speech app


Clinton Public School District

Dr. Tim Martin, Superintendent

(601) 924-7533

Media contact: Sandi Beason, APR



CLINTON — Speech pathologist Melanie Clyatt works with children who struggle to use multisyllabic words.


“I work with preschool children and this occurs a lot,” she said. “They drop syllables in words and it makes their speech less intelligible.”


To address the issue, she teamed up with Jesse Emling, instructional technologist in the Clinton Public School District’s technology department, to create an easy-to-use app for children of all ages. Spark Speech is free and available in the App Store for iPad users.


Multisyllabic words can be extremely difficult for those with speech problems such as apraxia, phonological disorders or severe articulation disorders. The flashcard-style app allows for targeted practice of two-, three-, and four-syllable words utilizing realistic pictures.


Students begin with individual words then move to phrases and sentences.


“It helps with sequencing words and sounds together,” she said.


Emling used Apple coding language Swift on the app developer platform Xcode. He drew on his experience teaching computer science.


“We had the tools available to do it,” he said.


The Clinton Public School District is a 1:1 district, meaning all students and teachers have school-issued Apple devices. Students in grades K-8 use iPads and high school students use MacBook laptops.


Clyatt said her students like the photos in the app, and use their device touch screen to tap buttons below each photo. A picture of a puppy, for example, has two buttons below it that the student can tap while sounding out the word.


“Touch is very powerful,” she said. “Students like that kinesthetic feedback.”