The New York Times had featured little Owen Cain, a seven-year old boy with spinal muscular atrophy, using an iPad. Because of the iPad’s multitouch screen, it has managed to be a well-used therapeutic tool among individuals with disabilities like Owen. Basing on the article, it seems that spending $600 on an iPad plus $200 on software is a much cheaper option than other augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices that more often than not have limited features.
Text-to-speech applications installed on an iPad can be used by individuals who otherwise have difficulty talking but can be trained to use AAC devices. One such app is Proloquo2Go, an AAC app that can be installed on an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad. With a default vocabulary of 7000 items, text-to-speech capabilities, options to expand lexicon, it will be no surprise if Proloquo2Go finds its way to the iDevices of many speech-language pathologists and occupational therapists. There are several apps like Proloquo2Go, even apps that can target a variety of intervention goals: narratives, pragmatics, comprehension, syntax, semantics, word retrieval, concept-building… heck, they even have an app that turns an iDevice into a fairly dependable stethoscope! I kid you not. It’s called iStethoscope.
Read more on Owen and about people like him at the New York Times. As for you lovely people who have been wondering what the iPad, or even as basic as the iPod Touch, can do for you and your work with individuals with disabilities, three words: start saving up, because the compatibility between iDevices and special education / individuals with disabilities is here to stay. While you’re saving up, beef up on your AAC background and see who among your clients can possibly use your future iDevice. Now, I’m not saying you go starve yourself and buy Proloquo2Go soon. There are other options out there like MyTalkTools Mobile. Again, this comes with a price, but not as much as Proloquo2Go does.