Monday, 20 June 2011

iOS5....what can we look forward to for clients with additional needs?

So, Apple announce 200 changes are in line for iOS5. What are some of the aspects which might be relevant to special needs users of the iPad? Here is a quick look at a couple of the features that have been revealed.

Reminders - reminders will be able to be location based. This may be a good tool for people with memory and other cognitive difficulties who need a prompt upon entering a location. For example, entering a supermarket and receiving a reminder of your grocery list; or arriving at the GP clinic and being reminded of the important questions you need to ask.

Being independent of the PC - means that we'll be able to download updates automatically on the iDevice. When you do want to sync to your PC we'll be able to do this via WiFi rather than needing to use the current USB cable. Which depending on how your school/hospital is set-up regarding WiFi, could useful. 

LED Flash and Vibration - will allow iPhone users to see and feel an incoming call. Great for people with sensory difficulties.

And of course Apple has hinted at the changes that will allow certain hardware that will facilitate further access...

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

How I use Skype with AAC apps

How can you integrate your AAC app into a skype conversation? 

Its a very simple process, with just two steps. 

1) Start a skype chat like you normally would

2) Open your app (in this case, Predictable) and start chatting. You'll see the red line at the top of your screen indicating Skype is running.

In my testing, this process happened seemlessly and the voice quality was excellent. I liked that I could keep my app page up and listen to the other person while typing a message. In the future, hopefully you'll be able to share the screen like you can when using Skype on a desktop computer.

The process is basically the same for integrating an AAC app in a phone call on your iPhone.  I have tried to use Face Time and integrate an app, but this dosen't work! 

A quick note that this was on my iPhone 3GS and with the new iPhone 4 and perhaps iPad, the other apps are muted when skype or phone calls are made.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

It's all about accessories

Everyone needs to accessorise!! Here at Therapy Box we realise the importance of accessories (and we’re not just talking shoes and handbags here !!). We’ve had a staggering amount of enquiries into the different types of accessories which are available, and what are the most suitable.
Fear not...cast your worries aside and read on...all will become clear readers as I take you on a journey down accessory lane. I'm not going to write about speakers or cases today, I'm going to look at a couple of new items in our range which we have had lots of requests for.
The accessory which causes quite a stir when we use it in our Demos is the e-tip glove. If you thought this was just an ordinary glove think again. The glove features x-static fabric on the tips of the thumbs and index fingers which allows the user to operate the device. The x-static fabric has a natural layer bonded to a circuit pattern on the palm made from slip resistance silicone. So, for example, the person can rest the palm off their hand on the screen without affecting the touch-screen aspect of the iPad . Its also useful for people who may have difficulty with drag, or if you are wanting to work on developing skills in tapping with the index finger, or thumb. 

Next up is the iPad Satchel. We have had requests far and wide for an accessory such as the satchel. This is perfect for not only a smart way of carrying your iPad, but also you don’t have to remove the iPad from the satchel to use it –smart eh! This makes the iPad extremely mobile and portable with a lightweight design. 

These accessories are mainstream products, developed for the mass market, but can really make the difference for someone wanting/needing an AAC system on an iPad.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Perspectives on AAC - Special Issue on Mobile AAC Technologies

Last week the ASHA AAC SIG published a special issue of Perspectives on AAC  looking at the growing use of and discussion about AAC applications on iPads and other tablet based devices. Its certainly an interesting read and looks at the issue from a range of perspectives including Glenda Watson Hyatt talking about her use of Proloquo2Go and the view of a company (Saltillo) moving from traditional AAC to also providing app based AAC. Debbie McBride and Jessica Gosnell's articles both stress the importance of SLTs going through their regular thorough assessments and ensuring feature matching is carried out to ensure that the recommendation of an AAC system is based on the user's current and future needs across a range of criteria..and not on hype! 

This of course fits in anyway with the best practice of therapists who work in this area. Communication Matters released the first version of the National Standards for AAC Services in mid March. This document talks about services having  an obligation of "applying their knowlegdge and skills to consider the broad range of AAC options that are available"

However there is something to be said for hype. The focus on using iPads as AAC platforms (with suitable apps) has highlighted the importance of social inclusivity, utilisation of mainstream technology and the cool factor! Its certainly an interesting time in AAC.