Vol 19, No 6 – Access Options for iProducts - Cerebral Palsy Alliance


Vol 19, No 6 – Access Options for iProducts - Cerebral Palsy Alliance

TechnoTalkCommunication Apps A reviewby Angela VassiPads, iPods and iPhones amongst other“iProducts” have been stealing the headlineslately when it comes to speech generatingdevices and it can be hard to keep track of whatappears to be a continuous development of newcommunication apps for these products. It isdefinitely the hot topic at the moment and wewanted to share some reviews of the “stand out”apps we feel have the potential to be of benefitto people with complex communication needs.The communication apps reviewed in this articleare just a snapshot of a large and increasingnumber of those available. However, we havereviewed our recommendations for the bestapps available at present within two categories:1. Symbol-Based and Customisable Apps2. Text-to-Speech AppsWhen considering whether one of the iProductsand communication apps are suitable as aspeech generating device for an individual, it isimportant to do a thorough assessment. AtTASC we use the SETT framework as a guide togather information about the:Student / Self (the user requiring a speechgenerating device)Environment (where the device will be used, whois available to support the device)Tasks (what the user wants / needs to be able todo including options for interfacing speechtechnology with computer access and/orenvironmental control, if required).Tools (the range of options to support the user’sgoals, including current technology andpotential new technology options) (Zabala,2010).Feature Matching:Before we look at the pros and cons of certainapps there are a few fundamental concepts thatsupport which app you might decide upon.Before choosing an app we need to consider theprinciple of ‘Feature Matching’. This process notonly involves decisions about which app bestmatches the user’s needs but also making surethe hardware of the iProducts are the bestmatch as well. There are a number of limitationsand considerations in relation to physical accessto the iProducts and these will be discussedfurther in the section on access.Feature Matching involves determining thefeatures that a user requires in a communicationdevice which is then used to predict whichdevice best suits their needs. In order to do this,the capabilities of user need to be considered inseveral areas:- Communication (receptive and expressive)- Physical- SensoryFor example, it is a good idea to consider eacharea to identify the individual’s abilities andareas of difficulty:Once you have collected this information youcan then use ‘Feature Matching’ to help youmatch the user’s needs to the technology thatbest meets these needs.2

TechnoTalkCommunicationPhysicalSensorySkills* Receptive skills within normal limits* Speaks in sentences, but is difficult tounderstand* Uses an alphabet board to assist speech* Good spelling skills* Can only use right hand, left hand nolonger functional* Powered wheelchair user* No vision difficulties* No hearing difficultiesFeatures required in software andhardwareAccess to a spelling keyboardWord predictionAbility to store regularly used phrasesDirect access using a touch screen orstylusDevice needs to be mounted and secureStandard target/font size.Would benefit from external speakersdepending on environment.Therefore from this list you will be well placed tostart matching the features you require with thedevices and apps available. If you’re not quitesure about which devices or apps would be themost suitable, it is best to have a chat to yourlocal speech pathologist or assistive technologyspecialists to obtain support.Symbol Based Customisable Apps:Tap SpeakFeaturesLimitationsTap Speak Sequenced• Can record a single message• Can store a number of singlemessages to be used at a latertime• You record a message using yourspeech• Can change the colour of thebutton/switch• Has option of audio feedbackwhen the switch is pressed• Available on iPhone, iPod Touch,iPadFeatures• Can record a sequence of singlemessages• You record the messages usingyour speech• You can change the colour, add asymbol or import photos for eachpart of the sequence• You can purchase access to 4500PCS Boardmaker symbols throughan in-app purchase• Can store a number of singlemessages to be used at a latertime• Can alter the length of timeneeded to activate the switch• Available on iPad only• No symbols available• Only plays one message attimeLimitations• Navigation through thestored sequences wouldrequire assistance3

TechnoTalkTapToTalkFeatures• Free to download sample, thenneed to purchase TapToTalkDesigner for $99.95 USD per year(subscription)• Has 2,000 symbols available aswell as ability to import your own• Computerised speech in the freesample• Record own speech in theTapToTalk Designer• Available on iPhone, iPod Touch,iPad, Nintendo DSLimitations• No Message/Text windowlimiting sentenceconstruction or symbolcombinations, eg. “I want”+ “drink”• Limited to 8 choices perpage and portrait modeonly on the iPhone andiPod Touch• No Boardmaker PCSavailable• Yearly subscription feeProloquo2GoFeatures• Highly cutsomisable• Uses SymbolStix and can importyour own photos• Comes with a 7,000 wordvocabulary organised into a largenumber of categories• Message/Text window availablefor sentence construction orsymbol combinations eg. “I want”+ “drink”• Has the choice of two adult voicesand two child voices (male andfemale)• Can change the size of the cells ifa person has vision or accessissues• Keyboard available for text-tospeechoption• Landscape and portrait options• Available on iPhone, iPod Touch,iPadLimitations• No computer basedediting software• Programming can be“fiddly” due to not beingable to create individualuser profiles easily• No Boardmaker PCSavailable• Limited word predictionwith the text-to-speechSoundingboardFeatures• Choice of 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 9 celllayouts• Use recorded speech• Can make and store numerousboards• Has a library of symbols availableas well as ability to import yourown photos• Available on iPhone, iPod TouchLimitations• Not able to link boards andcells together• Stored boards are availablein list view under the boardname• An external microphone isrequired when recordingmessages on the iPodTouch• No Boardmaker PCSavailable4

TechnoTalkText-to-Speech based Apps:TalkFeatures• Keyboard with message window• Portrait view only• Over 20 accented voices available• Available on iPhone, iPod Touch,iPadLimitations• Can’t change size of text• Only one voice available(female), quite robotic• Limited word predictionwith the text-to-speech• No customisation of thevoice rate, tone or pitchSpeakIt!Features• Keyboard with message window• Choice of four voices (two adultmale and two adult female)• Portrait or landscape view• Ability to store regularly usedphrases• Can change text font size up to28pt• Can control voice volume andspeed• Available on iPhone, iPod Touch,iPadLimitations• Limited word predictionwith the text-to-speechTalkAssistFeatures• Keyboard with message window• Choice of one voice (male)• Portrait or landscape view• Ability to store regularly usedphrases• Available on iPhone, iPod Touch,iPadLimitations• Only one male voiceavailable• Limited word predictionwith the text-to-speech5

TechnoTalkAssistiveChatFeatures• Keyboard with message window• Word prediction available• Choice of three voices (adult male,adult female and male child)• Portrait or landscape view• Ability to store regularly usedphrases• Can control voice volume andspeed• Has the option to speak each wordas it is entered into the messagewindow• Available on iPhone, iPod Touch,iPadLimitations• Six word prediction cellsavailable on portrait view,only two available onlandscape view on theiPhone and iPod Touch• Can’t change size of textLocabularyFeatures• Uses the GPS system of the iPhoneto track where you are and thenloads vocabulary you might requirein this location• Pre stored vocab is in list view andlinks easily to make quick sentences(only in portrait view)• Keyboard with message window• Choice of male and female voice• Portrait or landscape view for thekeyboard option• Ability to store regularly usedphrases• Can choose between two font sizes• Available on iPhone, iPod TouchLimitations• Limited word predictionwith the text-to-speech• Location features won’twork on the iPod Touchand have also experienceddifficulty with the GPScomponent on iPhone• Can’t add to the prestoredvocabulary listsA Note on SpeakersiProducts come with an inbuilt internal speaker,however, it has been noted on numerousoccasions that the devices can struggle toproduce enough volume in a noisy environmentfor the voice output to be heard. The solution isto look at getting some external speakers. Becareful though, portable speakers require theirown battery supply and the cheaper options canbe no louder than the internal speaker.There is a list of speakers on the Proloquo2Gowebsite: www.proloquo2go.com/resources/article/speakers, however, be sure to check the level ofafter sales support and if they are available inAustralia.Links and Resources:Obviously there are a huge number of appsavailable and we are just reviewing a selection. Ifyou are interested in other apps please have alook at this fabulous blog from Spectronics whichis regularly updated! www.spectronicsinoz.com/blog/new-technologies/2010/09/iphoneipadapps-for-aac-updated/References:Zabala, J. (2010). Sharing the SETT Framework. Availableonline at www.joyzabala.com/6

TechnoTalkAccess Options for iProductsby Rachelle Baldock and Justin WareThe “iProducts” have a capacitive screen that isactivated by the electrical energy of skin contactrather than the force of touch alone. A personswipes the display to move through pages orscreens, touches targets to select and enterstext via an onscreen keyboard. This method ofaccess can be challenging for people who donot have isolated and/or accurate finger control.TASC has been exploring options that willoptimise or enable use for people who haveadditional access needs. Here is a summary ofwhat we have discovered to date.Screen sizeOne very obvious difference between theiPhone, iPod touch and the iPad is screen size.The iPad has a 9.7 inch display compared withthe 3.5 inch display on the iPhone and iPodtouch. Many people find the iPad moreaccessible due to the larger target sizes. Theonscreen keyboard in landscape mode is alsoslightly larger than the one displayed in portraitmode.Screen zoomTarget size when browsing the Internet on theiProducts can be significantly increased usingthe built-in screen zoom feature. This involvesdragging two fingers apart on the screen(usually thumb and index finger) to zoom in andtogether to zoom out. Additionally, the iPad hasa Zoom feature that can be activated in theAccessibility folder of General Settings and canbe used with all apps and menus. Doubletapping the screen with three fingers turns theZoom on and off.Access Apps such as ShapeWriterSeveral Apps exist that can make it easier to type using the onscreen keyboard.One example is ShapeWriter. This App enables text entry by maintaining contacton the screen and dragging the finger from letter to letter rather than touchingand lifting off after each letter selection. This in essence causes a shape patternto be created when typing - hence the name. A person can stabilise their fingeron the screen which may significantly improve control and accuracy.Picture sourced from:www.zdnet.com/blog/apple/shapewritermust-try-iphone-app/4263StylusA range of stylus options are now available that can be held like apencil and used to touch targets on the screen. The stylus needsto be a special type compatible with the iProducts, such as thePogo.The first Pogo stylus TASC bought had an angled tip and many ofour clients had difficulty placing the angled surface flush on thescreen to select targets. Since then more stylus options havebecome available with rounded tips. We have also made ourown stylus using a metal dowel (used for its electrical conductivityproperties) and conductive foam for the tip.Picture sourced from:www.ipadaccessoriesaustralia.com.au7

TechnoTalkKeyguardPerspex keyguards similar to the guard used on keyboards can becustomised to enhance access to individual Apps.Yooralla in Victoria make custom keyguards and have recently made a 16and 36 cell clear Perspex guard for the iPad to use with Proloquo2Go. Theguards are attached to the iPad using Velcro and cost $90 - $110.Hand PointersFor those that have upper limb movement but difficulty with isolatedfinger control a hand pointer is often used to enable them to access akeyboard or other type of touch display.A plastic hand pointer will not work on the iProducts as it will not conductelectrical energy. At TASC we have solved this problem and developed anassessment prototype using aluminium foil and conductive foam. The foilis wrapped around the front of the pointer to conduct a current from thehand/finger to the conductive foam that is attached to the tip of thepointer.HeadpointersAnother option is to attach an iProduct compatible stylusto the end of a headpointer or mouthstick to provide amethod of touch access for those that have more controlusing head movements.We have attached our home made stylus to the end ofone of our Zyteq head pointers and had great success inusing the iPad. Additionally, instructions for how to adapta headpointer or mouthstick to use with an iProduct canbe found at www.rjcooper.com/ipad-pointer/index.htmlPicture sourced from:www.zyteq.com.auTASC stylus taped toend of head pointer.External keyboardMany people may find an external keyboard easier and moreaccurate to use compared with the onscreen keyboard displayand it is possible to use an external Bluetooth keyboard toenter text on the iProducts. A keyguard could also be used toincrease accuracy.The Apple Wireless keyboard and Apple iPad keyboard dockare two examples that we have found to be compatible. Asalways it is important to check compatibility with your devicebefore purchase.Apple iPad keyboard dock picture sourced from:http://gigaom.com/mobile/ipad-accessories-seriesportable-bluetooth-keyboard-roundup/8

TechnoTalkRecently, a large number of options havebecome available for mounting the iPad andiPhone on beds, wheelchairs and desks. If youwould like further information on these options,please contact TASC.TASC is constantly on the look-out for new waysthat the iProducts can be utilised and accessedby people with disabilities. If you require anyfurther information on any of the access optionsdiscussed, please contact TASC.References:Buchanen, R. (January, 2010.). : Accessibility and the iPad:First Impressions, Retrieved November 3rd, 2010 fromhttp://atmac.org/accessibility-and-the-ipad-firstimpressions#ixzz13zpzyfbVBuchanen, R. (May, 2010.).: iPad Assistive Technology/Disability Round- Up, Retrieved November 3rd, 2010 fromhttp://atmac.org/ipad-assistive-technology-disabilityround-upLeft to right are: Debbie Davis, Natalie Carden, Kerrie Potgieter, Alana Bain, Justin Ware, Liz Nade, RachelleBaldock, Anna Bech, Angela Vass, Liza MacLean and Britta HuttelThe Spastic Centre321 Mona Vale Road Terrey Hills NSW 2084T: 02 9479 7200 F: 02 9479 7233E: infot@tscnsw.org.auW: www.TheSpasticCentre.com.au

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