An audio reminder is an electronic device programmed to make a specified noise at a predetermined time. Audio reminders can be as simple as a typical alarm clock, but can also get much more sophisticated if needed. Audio reminders are well-documented to help facilitate self management skills. The purpose of audio reminders is to cue a behavior at a certain time, such as getting out of bed at 6:30 in the morning or taking medicine at 5:00 pm. Audio reminders reduce the amount of strain on the individual’s memory and provide structure to a routine.
Audio reminders have been studied heavily in the medical field as patient aids to either take medication or engage in a prescribed exercise (Vervloet et al., 2012). One literature review by Vervloet and colleagues showed that reminders (both audio and visual were evaluated) are very effective at boosting short term compliance with patients taking their medication. Prompts given as pager beeps or videos with instructions generally increased the desired behavior by 10-20%. However, mixed results were seen on a smaller number of longer term studies. An additional interesting observation was that patients who had impaired memories benefited more from audio reminders than patients with intact memories (Andrade et al., 2005). Audio reminders have also been shown to be effective at facilitating more complex behaviors, such as getting patients to exercise more (Hurlock-Chorostecki, 2017). This study combined reminders with reinforcement and encouragement. Another study used a buzzing timer on an iPod to prompt students with Autism Spectrum Disorder to switch tasks, and was shown to be effective (Carlile, Reeve, Reeve, & Debar, 2013).
For use in education, audio reminders have been shown to facilitate self-management skills for children with intellectual disabilities (Mechling, 2007). This review also suggested that reminders should be synced across all devices on which the student is working, meaning that the reminder will appear on screen whether they are using their smartphone, laptop, and tablet at that moment. Personal computers and iPads were deemed preferable to cassette players or pagers, largely because a dedicated “reminder device” is another device for the child to carry around. While supplementing picture prompts is generally seen as helpful, research shows that picture prompts offer no advantage over basic audio prompts with a headset, especially for individuals with motor delays (Lancioni et al., 1995).
Research Rating: Due to the experimental nature of the information cited in this description this information is to be trusted as valid and reliable. Many studies involving reminders involve multiple other features that make it difficult determining how useful audio reminders specifically are.
Benefits students with learning disabilities and intellectual impairments
Very little instructional time required
Easy to combine with existing device technology
Software typically comes preloaded onto technology devices
Long term effects not as well documented
Check-ins and monitoring necessary to optimize effects
Creates noise, which requires either using headphones or disrupting others working nearby
Audio reminders are more effective when the adult or caregiver can check in relatively frequently; the reminding power of annotations is reduced when they’re used for long periods of time (possibly because students learn to ignore them).
The literature often combines audio and visual prompting, such as videos, a practice that is shown to be very effective (Andrade et al., 2005).
Use of audio reminders is best sustained when programmed on a device the child is already using.
Providing reminders in a form of interest to the individual is important.
All brand name devices will have a built in reminder features. These free apps (such as Reminder with Voice) are better integrated into the operating system and typically require fewer clicks or swipes to activate and can therefore be a little easier to use.
Special Consideration: Workflow
Exact prices change frequently, which is why only approximate ranges are listed.
$ - Under $5
$$ - Between $6 and $50
$$$ - Between $51 and $250
$$$$ - Over $250
Andrade AS, McGruder HF, Wu AW, et al. (2005). A programmable prompting device improves adherence to highly active antiretroviral therapy in HIV-infected subjects with memory impairment. Clin Infect Dis, 41, 875-882
Carlie, K. A., Reeve, S. A., Reeve, F. K., Debar, R. M. (2013). Using Activity Schedules on the iPod touch to Teach Leisure Skills to Children with Autism. Education and Treatment of Children. 36(2), 33-57.
Hurlock-Chorostecki, C. (2017). Mobile phone messaging delivering encouragement, reminders and education increases patient compliance with recommended exercise and results in positive shortterm health behaviours. Evid Based Nurs, 20(4), 109-110.
Lancioni, G. E., Klaase, M., & Goossens, A. (1995). Brief report: Pictorial vs. auditory prompt systems for promoting independent task performance in adolescents with multiple handicaps. Behavioral Interventions, 10, 237-24
Mechling, L. C. (2007). Assistive Technology as a Self-Management Tool for Prompting Students with Intellectual Disabilities to Initiate and Complete Daily Tasks: A Literature Review. Education and Training in Developmental Disabilities. 42(3), 252-269.
Vervloet, M., J Linn, A., C M van Weert, J., H de Bakker, D., L Bouvy, M., van Dijk, L. (2012). The effectiveness of interventions using electronic reminders to improve adherence to chronic medication: a systematic review of the literature, Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, 19(5). 696–704.
Written by Francis Wall, Last Revision March 2018