118: From Surviving to Thriving as an SLP with Barbara Fernandes

From Surviving to Thriving as an SLP with Barbara Fernandes


Do you use gaming and technology in speech therapy? 

One of the keys to getting students more engaged in their speech therapy sessions is utilizing their interests, and for many kids, that’s gaming and technology. A lot of SLPs are wary about incorporating those though because they don’t want to give children too much screen time. However, there is a difference between playing games or watching YouTube and participating in speech therapy on a screen. 

In this episode of SLP Coffee Talk, I sat down with Barbara Fernandes to talk about her app, Speech & Language Academy, and why it is so beneficial in the speech classroom. 

Barbara Fernandes, founder, and CEO of Smarty Ears is well known for her innovative and breakthrough product development for speech and communication disorders. For over a decade, Barbara has translated science into user-friendly and powerful technology to support individuals with communication disorders. Barbara transformed an entire industry to adopt mobile technologies through the design and development of over sixty mobile applications and an entire symbol library: Smarty Symbols. 

As the founder of Smarty Symbols, Barbara also created the most inclusive, diverse, and comprehensive symbol library and developed a powerful new technology that is disrupting the special education field by providing a platform for custom visual support creation. Smarty Symbols has been adopted as the symbol of choice in many other technologies developed in the field.

Through her blog and video podcast, Barbara became known as GeekSLP. Barbara has traveled the country to train special education professionals in the adoption of mobile technology to promote student learning and engagement. She has been a guest speaker at multiple state association conventions, the national American Speech-Language and Hearing Convention, as well as the Brazilian and Canadian conventions. 

Most recently, Barbara has been awarded a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant by the National Institute of Health, and she released a ground-breaking technology called the Speech and Language Academy. Barbara has received multiple awards and is an Amazon best-selling author. 


In This Episode You’ll Discover:

  • How Speech & Language Academy was created
  • Why it has been so successful
  • The skills you can work on with the app
  • The benefits of incorporating technology into the speech classroom
  • The difference between regular screen time and screens during therapy
  • How to balance therapy with the app
  • Why done is better than perfect


I love how Barbara came up with a way to connect what her speech therapy students love with what they need to learn. Students really do enjoy it when we incorporate their interests into our speech practice and Barbara’s story is proof of that. Using this quality screen time option is a great way to increase students' speech outcomes and have more fun in the classroom. 

If you want to connect with Barbara, make sure to send her a DM over on Instagram. If you are interested in using this app in your speech therapy sessions, Barbara offered my listeners a discount code! Head over to her website and use the code SLPCoffeeTalk for 20% off Speech & Language Academy. Both are linked below!


From Surviving to Thriving as an SLP with Barbara Fernandes


Joke of the Week:

Q: Why did the computer keep sneezing? 

A: It had a virus. 


Resources Mentioned: 

Check out Speech & Language Academy

Get 20% OFF Speech & Language Academy with promo code: SLPCoffeeTalk

Check out the Smarty Ears website

Follow Barbara on Instagram


Where We Can Connect: 

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