You might wonder how the iPad can be considered assistive technology for those with disabilities. Happily, app creators from all over continue to make communication more accessible and cost-effective for persons with developmental and speech disabilities, making the iPad a comfortable visual and aural medium for them. Mobile apps provide these persons with many of the vocabulary-building and text-to-speech features of specialized alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) devices, at a significantly more affordable price than products such as the Dynavox Maestro.
There Really is an App For That!
Here are just three of the apps that can help persons who struggle to speak due to conditions such as autism, brain injuries, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, and stroke. They provide ways to choose words, symbols, and images to express moods, needs, and thoughts.
TouchChat HD speaks words, phrases, and messages with a choice of seven different synthetic voices. Buttons allow users to navigate among page sets, speak messages, change the volume, and to clear the display. You can also rotate the device to display a message full-screen with larger letters. TouchChat text can be shared on Facebook, Twitter, text messaging, and email. Users can import text from other applications to be read aloud; TouchChat text can also be copied to other applications.
TapSpeak Choice for iPad is a comprehensive communication board, speech editor, and player that is designed to save setup and maintenance time. The app can support the DynaVox PCS library as well as user photos and images. Boards can hold from one to 56 messages. The app allows for 18 grid dimensions and a dynamic layout that automatically adjusts the grid size as the user add buttons. TapSpeak Choice can use the iPad screen as a switch for scanning that assists those users with limited motor skills.
Proloquo2Go features text-to-speech, high-resolution symbols, with a 7,000-word vocabulary and advanced word prediction. The app can be used without a WiFi or 3G connection. The app Includes an “Adjust # of Columns” that displays more columns in landscape view. The app also has the “Try to Fill Screen” feature that enlarges some category buttons. The message window and navigation bar are adjustable.
How to Get Assistive Technology
Unfortunately, most private insurance companies do not provide coverage for assistive technology, but those on Medicaid waivers in the state of Virginia have a potentially valuable resource in helping to pay for their assistive technology needs. Assistive technology providers, like Ability Unlimited, can help with the process of requesting funding for AT devices. Check out their website for more info on what makes you eligible!