Sound Contrasts in Phonology (SCIP) is a treatment program that provides a comprehensive collection of contrastive sound pairs that allows SLPs to provide individualized treatment for children with speech sound disorders. SCIP has a database of over 2,000 illustrations and photographs of words (and over 6,000 nonsense words) that can be used with a number of different intervention approaches, including contrastive phonological and traditional articulation formats, such as:

  • Minimal Pairs
  • Multiple Oppositions
  • Maximal Oppositions
  • Treatment of the Empty Set
  • Vowel Contrasts
  • Articulation

SCIP is a research-based intervention tool that is the result of funding received through the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Dr. A. Lynn Williams and her team created this program in order to provide large treatment sets in a quick and accessible way for busy speech-language pathologists. Where some treatment tools provide a therapist with only one intervention approach, SCIP provides the SLP with 5 different approaches: Multiple Oppositions, Minimal Pairs, Treatment of the Empty Set, Maximal Oppositions, and Vowel Contrasts. The illustrations/photographs can also be used with other traditional articulation approaches.
In addition, SCIP has many unique features:

  • Efficiency in developing individualized contrastive intervention materials unique to a particular child. It is not limited to common phonological processes (i.e., stopping, fronting, cluster reduction, etc.). SCIP may be used for idiosyncratic error patterns as well.
  • Illustrations may be printed for traditional articulation therapy.
  • Ability to be used to address vowel errors using the Vowel Contrasts. This approach can be used for children with speech disorders that include vowel errors, or for speakers with accented English, or English Language Learners.
  • Collection and graphing of data during each of the treatment “Sessions.” Once the session is over, the therapist has the option to email those results, as well as print them.
  • 100% accuracy in SCIP providing the SLP with treatment stimuli and data calculation. For example, SCIP will never mistakenly include both singletons and consonant sequences (i.e., clusters) for a target sound, a common oversight made by many hurried therapists.
  • Flexibility to choose either illustrations or photographs, as well as flexibility to print the illustrations.
  • Ability to work with students both individually and up to groups of 4.

SCIP is designed for SLPs to use with preschool and school-age children who have functional speech sound disorders, ranging from mild to profound speech disabilities. It is particularly designed for use with children who have phonological speech sound disorders. Although SCIP was developed specifically for creating and using contrastive word sets for phonological intervention, the illustrations/photos may also be used for traditional articulation intervention or for initial teaching of a phoneme prior to using it in a contrastive approach. SLPs do not require special training to use SCIP. While the SCIP program itself should be used under the direction on an SLP, the illustrations/photos and word sets may be printed and used for practice activities with family members, paraprofessionals, and educators.

SCIP is also appropriate in the treatment of children with functional speech sound disorders (SSD), as well as with ESL and accented English.

There is no limit to the number of student records that can be kept in SCIP.

There are 5 treatment approaches that you can use with the SCIP program to target consonant/vowel errors.

  1. Multiple Oppositions
  2. Minimal Pairs
  3. Maximal Oppositions
  4. Treatment of the Empty Set
  5. Vowel Contrasts


You are able to set up as many different treatments as you wish for each student. In addition, you can target more than 1 goal and utilize more than 1 treatment approach to address different phonological goals.

You may wish to start treatment with a student using 1 approach, such as Multiple Oppositions, and later move to a different approach, such as Minimal Pairs, as the child’s system changes and his/her phonological collapse (child uses one phoneme for several different target sounds and clusters) is reduced or eliminated.

Yes, SCIP can be used with groups of up to 4 students utilizing their individual treatment sets.

Getting Started

Sessions: In “Sessions,” users enter a student’s name and create one or more treatments for that student. After entering this information, new sessions can be easily started by choosing the student’s name, selecting the treatment, and then pressing the “Start Session” button. Data will be saved for each of the sessions completed and a summary report of performance on a treatment can be generated.

Trial Session: In a trial session, users create a treatment and then directly start a treatment session without inputting student information. At the conclusion of the session, a tally of the student’s performance is displayed, but no data are saved and the treatment profile is not saved.

Multiple Oppositions addresses several target sounds from across a rule set or phoneme collapse. The target sounds are contrasted simultaneously with the child’s error. A phoneme collapse represents a substitution or deletion that might cover several different sound classes (stops, affricates, fricatives, etc.), as well as singletons and clusters.

There are two assumptions regarding Multiple Oppositions (Williams, 1990, 2000a, 2000b):

  1. The size and nature of linguistic “chunks” presented to the child will facilitate learning (learning of the whole is greater than the sum of its parts).
  2. Learning is a dynamic interaction between the child’s unique sound system and intervention. Based on the assumptions, the rationale for using Multiple Oppositions is that it predicts learning will be generalized across a rule set.

The Minimal Pairs approach involves single contrastive word sets of the child’s error sound with the target sound. For example, you may set up a treatment for the child where the “error sound” is /t/ and the “target sound” is /k/ in order to work on the process of fronting.

Maximal Oppositions involves single contrastive pairings of a known, independent, and maximally different comparison sound with the target sound (known ~ unknown).

For example, if the target sound is /s/, you would look at a comparison sound that meets the following 3 criteria: (1) the child can produce it correctly; (2) the comparison sound is independent of the error target sound; and (3) the comparison sound is maximally different from the error target sound. For example, the child may be able to produce the phoneme / m / correctly, it is independent of his error for the target sound /s/, and it is maximally different from /s/ (i.e., it is a sonorant and /s/ is an obstruent).

Further, the Maximal Oppositions approach is based on two assumptions: 1. Phonemic distinctiveness (i.e., salience) of the comparison sound will facilitate learning and 2. Child will fill in the gap of missing phonemic features (i.e., frication, voicing, coronal) based on distinctiveness of the contrastive pairing. Based on these assumptions, the following is the rationale for using Maximal Oppositions: predicts that the target contrast will create system-wide change on the basis of the child filling in phonemic gaps.

Treatment of the Empty Set (also known as the “Unknown Set”) involves single contrastive pairings of 2 target sounds (unknown ~ unknown) that are maximally different. For example, if the child produced w/r, but also produced t/s, you would contrast the two target sounds /r/ and /s/ that are unknown, independent of each other, and maximally different.

The assumptions behind using this approach are: 1. Phonemic distinctiveness (i.e., salience) of 2 target sounds will facilitate learning and 2. The child will fill in the inventory gaps based on distinctiveness of the contrastive pairings and learn 2 new sounds simultaneously. These assumptions lead to the rationale: Treatment of the Empty Set predicts that target contrast will create greater system-wide change on the basis of the child filling in the phonemic gaps and learn more thane one phoneme at a time.

Vowel Contrasts involve contrastive word sets used to treat vowel errors. The client’s vowel error can be contrasted with 1, 2, 3, or 4 target vowels.

Phonological processes are labels used to describe sound change, generally within a single aspect of production (i.e., place, voice, or manner) or to describe deletion patterns (e.g., final or initial deletions, reduction of clusters to a singleton).

A phoneme collapse reflects a substitution or deletion that might cover several different sound classes and include both singletons and clusters. For example, the phoneme collapse below represents a 1:6 correspondence between the child’s error substitution and 6 target sounds and clusters. This example indicates that the child’s error is not limited to a single class of sounds (stops, fricatives, and affricates) place of production (alveolar, velar, palatal), or linguistic unit (singletons and clusters). This phoneme collapse would be represented by 4 different phonological processes (fronting, deaffrication, stopping, and cluster reduction).

Nonsense words provide the option to develop more contrastive word sets within a treatment profile for a given phonological goal, which will provide additional treatment contrasts that can be used in intervention.

Also, many SLPs believe that it is easier for children to learn a new contrast in nonsense words avoiding the ‘triggering’ of a habitual response that might otherwise occur with a known or familiar word

There are over 6,000 nonsense words in the SCIP app.

When presenting the stimulus items to the student, the target sound picture will have a “+” icon and a (-) icon. Once the child has produced the sound, you or the child may tap the icon that corresponds to their production. If the sound was produced correctly, tap the (+) icon and a “smiling sun” icon will appear. No other icons will appear if the (-) icon is tapped.

You are able to view the data collected by SCIP in two different ways. First, you may tap the saved session that has already been completed in order to view how the student performed on that session. When using the SCIP app, it will automatically record the following information:

  • Session date
  • Session start time
  • Total session time
  • Treatment goal targeted
  • Contrastive word sets completed
  • Type of approach used
  • Percentage correct
  • Response level
  • Picture type used (photo or illustration)
  • Picture text (show/not show)
  • If working on more than one target, a breakdown of performance on each sound
  • Choice to email or print that day’s session

You may also view the data collected by choosing a saved treatment under “Treatment Profiles. After you tap “Graph Progress,” you will see the following data:

  • Student name
  • Treatment
  • Error sound and the targets
  • Word position
  • Response level (imitated or spontaneous)
  • Percentage correct for each target on the graph, color-coded
  • Percentage correct for each target reported numerically under the graph
  • Choice to tap each target phoneme to appear on graph individually
  • Vowel context correct when viewing individual phonemes on graph
  • Option to type in comments (Tap comment section to activate the keyboard then tap “done” when complete).


SCIP can be purchased on the iTunes store. Click this link:

Your school may want to join Apple’s Volume Purchase Program for Education

The following is from the Apple Volume Purchase Guide:

“Multiple payment options are available when you make a purchase on the VPP store. You can use a purchase order to get VPP Credit that can be redeemed on the VPP store. Or complete your transaction with a credit card. You can also use PayPal in the United States to make purchases.”
“Organizations buying content in the VPP store can get VPP Credit using a purchase order just as they can when buying any other Apple product, directly from Apple or from an Apple Authorized Reseller. You can purchase VPP Credit in specific dollar amounts to be delivered electronically to the VPP account holder.”

Yes. Schools that purchase in volumes greater than 20 can get a discount in the Apple Volume Purchase Store


SCIP is based on over two decades of clinical research by a number of researchers who have examined models of contrastive phonological intervention, including Minimal Pairs, Multiple Oppositions, and the complexity approaches of Maximal Oppositions and Treatment of the Empty Set. All contrastive approaches are based on the construct of minimal pairs, which are word pairs that differ by a single sound and result in different meanings. For example, the words “pat” and “bat” make a minimal pair that differs by only one sound, and that difference in sounds makes a difference in meaning. There are four contrastive phonological approaches that are based on this construct of minimal pairs. Therefore, each contrastive approach uses minimal pairs, but it is the type of opposition that differs across each approach.

The oldest and most common approach is Minimal Pairs (Weiner, 1981; Baker, 2010). Extensions of this approach include Maximal Oppositions (Gierut, 1989, 1990, 2005), Multiple Oppositions (Williams, 2000, 2006), and Treatment of the Empty Set (Gierut, 1990, 1992, 2007). The literature supports the use of contrastive sound pairs to remediate phonological impairments by contrasting the child’s error pattern with a target sound, concluding that contrastive approaches are more efficient and effective than traditional articulation approaches (Gierut, 1998; Williams, 2006). Hodson (1992) reported that less than 10% of SLPs use phonological principles in the management of phonological disorders in children. Several reasons likely account for this low percentage, including the amount of training time required for SLPs to learn the newer models of phonological intervention and to implement them effectively into their clinical practices. That is why SCIP provides practitioners with this clinical intervention guide, as well as quick and easy access to a video tutorial for self-paced instruction in the contrastive intervention models.

Evidence supports the efficacy of the four contrastive models of phonological intervention. In an early study, Weiner (1981) reported that Minimal Pairs were efficient and effective in eliminating or reducing error patterns in children who displayed multiple phonological errors. More recently, Gierut (2007) reported that the Maximal Oppositions and Treatment of the Empty Set approaches resulted in greater phonological change than was obtained with the Minimal Pairs approach. Finally, Williams and Kalbfleisch (2001) reported that the Multiple Oppositions approach resulted in statistically significant, system-wide changes following a maximum of 42 total treatment sessions (p < .005) with children who exhibited moderate to profound phonological impairments. As Gierut (1998) summarized the phonological intervention literature, there is ample evidence to support the use of phonological models over traditional models of intervention.

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Ruscello, D. M., Cartwright, L. R., Haines, K. B., & Shuster, L. I. (1993). The use of different service delivery models for children with phonological disorders. Journal of Communication Disorders26(3), 193-203. DOI: 10.1016/0021-9924(93)90008-X

Powell, T. W., Elbert, M. and Dinnsen, D. A. (1991) Stimulability as a factor in the phonological generalisation of misarticulating preschool children. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 34, 1318–28. [Link]

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Tyler, A. A. and Sandoval, K. T. 1994: Preschoolers with phonological and language disorders: treating different linguistic domains. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools 25, 215–34.

Tyler, A. A., Edwards, M. L. and Saxman, J. H. 1987: Clinical application of two phonologically based treatment procedures. Journal of Speech and Hearing Disorders 52, 393–409.

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