Wednesday, 1 February 2012

I can...get connected!

Technology has helped to reduce some of the barriers to staying connected with friends and family.  Many kids use e-mail, texting and social media sites such as Facebook to keep in touch.  In this issue we will explore ways to support kids who use AC to access today's technology.

iPad Frenzy
Isn't everyone using an iPad these days?  This technology has opened up a world of possibilities for playing, learning and communicating.  Often kids with physical disabilities have a hard time accurately touching the screen on an iPad. What are some ways to making accessing an iPad a bit easier?

Bub Caps - Does your student constantly touch the home button and exit out of the app you are using?  Check out this simple product to address this challenge.

Keyguards: Some students benefit from a keyguard to help reduce accidental activation of keys.  If your student is using the Proloquo2Go communication app, check out these inexpensive keyguards.

Pointers- There are many commercially available stylus options that are designed to activate an iPad. Consider fabricating a hand pointer with an iPad stylus.  Check out this website on hand pointers: 

Gloves: Texting gloves may help kids who accidentally hit areas of the iPad screen with other parts of their hand.  When wearing these gloves only the tip of the index and thumb are conductive.

Conductive Thread: If your child has a pair of gloves that you want to use, you can purchase conductive thread and sew it where you need it.  Use your creativity to find the right match for your student!

Switch Access on the iPad
Have you ever wished that you could hook up a switch to your iPad?    Now, there is a way to do this.  RJ Cooper and Ablenet have developed bluetooth switch interfaces that work with some communication apps.

Here is a link to information on these interfaces:
Ablenet's Blue2:
RJ Coopers' Bluetooth Switch Interface:
RJ Cooper's Bluetooth Super Switch:

Switch Accessible Communication Apps
Which communication apps are switch accessible?  Although many companies are working towards switch accessibility for their apps, there are only a few currently available.  Here are some we know are currently switch accessible.

Sounding Board by Ablenet $49.99

Go Talk NOW by Attainment Company $79.99

Tap to Talk $99.99

Can you text me?
Texting is another way to keep in touch with others.  In many cases, texting can be done from an SGD with wireless internet access.  Kids who use assistive technology can also use their regular computer to send a text to a cell phone.  Below are the links to some cell phone providers that support texting from a computer.

Rogers Wireless:

Many people stay connected through the use of Facebook.  Have a look through the pages that were pre-programmed on your device to see if there is one you can use or adapt for use with Facebook.  If not, try customizing one for you student.

No Tech Solutions: Texting abbreviations can be help to reduce the number of keystrokes for students who use adapted access.  Check out these websites for some commonly used short forms:

Light Tech Solutions: Did you know that you can use the video feature within the camera app on the iPad2 to share news between home and school?  Capture those great moments where your child is communicating with a family member or peer!

High Tech Solutions: Have your messages pre-programmed on your SGD so that you're ready to Skype with friends and family.

Don't Miss It!

Plan to attend the 15th Biennial Conference of the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC) in Pittsburgh, PA, US. This year's theme of "Highest performance communication; best life experience - WOW!" focuses on ISAAC's mission that people anywhere in the world who communicate with little or no speech deserve to achieve the most effective communication possible in order to achieve their maximum potential. 
Conference Date: July 28th - August 4th, 2012.

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