BubCap home button covers

I want to share the BubCap home button covers for iOS devices. A BubCap is like a rigid sticker that is placed over the home button so children (especially children with sensory needs) cannot accidentally exit an app. Although the BubCap protects the home button from children, adults are still able to press it for navigational purposes–though, my wife seemed to have a hard time with this :-).

The BubCap cover comes in a pack with three different rigidities based on the child’s age and the type of iOS device used. The company suggests that the regular BubCap is for toddlers with iPhone and iPod touch; the BubCap Ultra is for toddlers with iPad or older children with iPhone and iPod touch; finally, the BubCap Max is for older children with iPad. However, my preference is to use the BubCap Ultra on any iOS device. The BubCap Max feels too rigid even for an adult to press.

The BubCap works by peeling off the backing and then placing it on top of your iOS device home button. Once the BubCap has been adhered, let it sit for about 15 minutes before use. Then, you’re ready to go. When you no longer need the BubCap, you can peel it off with you fingernail (applying slow steady pressure) and dispose of it or save it for future use.

As the company website says, BubCaps make a great stocking stuffer and they start at $5 for a 4-pack. BubCaps are well made and a good solution to help children stay within an app.

Disclosure: The author was provided with a complimentary 6-pack of BubCaps for demonstration purposes.


Blue2 Bluetooth Switch by AbleNet

Since I recently posted about an iPad accessory for physical access, I would like to share another one. I want to discuss the AbleNet Bluetooth switch called Blue2, which provides single or dual switch access to the iPad for individuals with physical disabilities. The Blue2 has a switch interface and two switches built in the same device. The built-in switches are accessible by your hands or feet. You can also plug additional switches in the available right and left ports if you wish to use your own.

Since the switch is Bluetooth enabled, no cords are required for use. You connect and use it wirelessly beginning with the iPad settings. Here are the following steps for setup:

  1. With 2 AA batteries in the device, slide the Power switch to ON
  2. Press and hold the Reset button on the rear part of the device until the red light cycles
  3. On the iPad, open the Settings app, tap General then Bluetooth. Turn Bluetooth ON.
  4. In Bluetooth Settings, choose Dual Pedal to connect it
  5. On the switch, enter in the four digit code using the Mode buttons (note that digits 6-0 require the Shift button plus the Mode button)
  6. Press Enter and you will see the red light flash next to the 1/6 mode button
  7. Finally, press the 5/0 mode button for the Space/Enter function and you will see the red light flash next to it

After the Blue2 switch is connected to the iPad via Bluetooth, you can use it with switch compatible apps. At this moment in time, there are a select number of apps that are compatible, and they are mostly for augmentative communication. The switch compatible apps (that I’m aware of) include the TapSpeak series (ButtonSequence, Choice), Predictable, SoundingBoard (iPhone only), GoTalk Now, Alexicomm AAC, and RJ Cooper apps.

My personal experience with the Blue2 switch has been mostly with the TapSpeak series of apps. At conferences, I have focused on demonstrating the switch with TapSpeak Choice. I used the First page sample board in TapSpeak Choice and began with configuring the in app Settings (the gears button). I selected Scanning Settings and 2 Switch Step scanning. After that, I exited the in app Settings and constructed a message (e.g., “I like dog”) using 2 switch access. In order to construct the message, I had to press the left switch to scan by rows and the right switch to choose a given row or item. Finally, I was able to select the message window to speak the entire message.

There are known limitations at this current time for iPad switch access. First, as I mentioned previously, there are only a select number of switch compatible apps. Second, you cannot use the on-screen keyboard while a switch is connected via Bluetooth. Also, with TapSpeak Choice, you can only utilize one type of access at a time. For example, when 2 Switch step access is enabled, Direct Select touch access is disabled.

Although I discussed Blue2 use with an iPad, it can also be used with switch compatible apps on iPhone and iPod touch. To purchase the Blue2 switch, visit the AbleNet online store. It’s $149.

Disclosure: The author was provided with a complimentary Blue2 switch for demonstration purposes.

Beyond Adaptive iPad Arm Kit

I would like to share an iPad Arm Kit from a company called Beyond Adaptive. The kit provides an excellent iPad mount for individuals with physical disabilities – even though it can be used by anyone. If someone with a motor impairment (such as an individual with cerebral palsy) wants to access an iPad, the arm kit is a great solution for keeping the device in a stable position.

The kit works by fastening the quick action clamp to an object (e.g., a table), tightening another knob, and placing an iPad (original iPad or iPad 2) in the cradle. As simple as it sounds, it’s that easy to setup.

Since receiving the Beyond Adaptive iPad Arm Kit almost two months ago, I have demonstrated it during various workshops as a high-quality solution for physical access to iPad. When firmly clamped, the kit enables a very sturdy position for the iPad, regardless of where it’s mounted. I attached it to podiums, tabletops, and table legs without any worries of my iPad falling and breaking. I also attached it to wheelchair tray tables for my students with physical disabilities who successfully accessed the iPad independently. It didn’t matter where I clamped the kit or how much pressure was applied to the iPad, the device remained steady. The Beyond Adaptive iPad Arm Kit is wonderful and I highly recommend it for individuals with the need.

The kit pictured above is the Deluxe iPad Arm Kit. The regular price is over $400, but the company is running a special of $351 until the end of 2011. Contact the company for more information and purchasing details.

Disclosure: The author was provided with a complimentary iPad Arm Kit for demonstration purposes.

NY Times article regarding apps for autism

Yesterday, the New York Times ran an article about the iPad and apps for autism. I was proud to see that my blog, slpsharing.com, was mentioned in the company of other great websites. It’s an honor to know that people look at my blog and resources to learn about apps for autism and special needs.

Homework sheets for ArtikPix

Amanda Backof, Speech-Language Pathologist who runs speechlanguageneighborhood.com, has created homework sheets for ArtikPix. The sheets can be downloaded on her website at http://www.speechlanguageneighborhood.com/articulation/. I also thought I would provide the download links here to the homework sheets:

Initial/Medial/Final P
Initial/Medial/Final B
Initial/Medial/Final F
Initial/Medial/Final K
Initial/Medial/Final G
Initial/Medial/Final S
Initial/Medial/Final Z

The downloadable documents are available as of 11.17.11. Check Amanda’s website in the future for updates. She is planning to add more homework sheets.

Terms of use stated by Amanda: Thanks to Symbolstix for allowing us to make these available for personal use [not for re-sale] under the terms of our subscription.

App Gap

I was asked to share a link to an article titled 15 Telling Facts About the App Gap: http://www.onlinecolleges.net/2011/11/14/15-telling-facts-about-the-app-gap/.  The “App Gap” refers to children of low socioeconomic status who do not have access to mobile devices and apps. Affluent children who have more access to apps might be receiving a more enriching learning environment. I believe that there’s likely truth to this notion, however the article proceeds to explain that more time with apps can be harmful to child development and learning. Harmful, huh? That’s pretty strong language which I question.

In the article, apps are consequently compared to TV and DVDs, a comparison which I disagree with. I feel that apps provide active learning environments vs. passive environments provided by TV shows and DVD movies. Due to the various interactions in apps (e.g., tapping, dragging, shaking, tilting, etc.), children immerse themselves in very enriching learning environments. This rings especially true for many disabled children who prefer to read and write with technology including mobile devices due to the motivating platform, not to mention built-in supports.

Although I don’t agree with everything in this article, I still wanted to share a link to it because it does pose food for thought. It provides some interesting ideas to consider when determining the use of mobile devices and apps with children.

Benefits of using Skype when helping people who stutter

I am excited to have a guest post from Hiten Vyas, who wrote about the use of Skype for helping people who stutter. Hiten Vyas is a person who stammers. He is passionate about helping people who stammer increase their confidence and reduce anxiety. You can find out more at his blog Stuttering Hub (http://stutteringhub.com).

It still exists and it always will. A person who stutters seeks help and visits a speech and language therapist to meet him or her face-to-face. Yes, I’m talking about traditional speech and language therapy.

However, these days with the availability of the Internet the way therapy can be carried out is also changing.

Voice over Internet is the technical name, the most well known of all is Skype (http://www.skype.com/intl/en-gb/welcomeback), and probably the biggest in the game!

Below are some of the key benefits of using Skype as a tool in your therapy box, both for yourself and for the people who stutter that you help:

A problem shared is a problem halved. This is certainly true. However, the sad and unfortunate reality is that certain problems such as stuttering have a stigma attached to them. Often this can change depending on a person’s culture and background. Some issues may be too difficult to speak to with others face-to-face. In these cases you can help a person who stutters maintain their privacy and get help from you at the same time. Discussing first via Skype can also be a good way to create rapport before subsequent ‘face-to-face’ therapy.

In the world of smart phones and mobile access to the Internet, and with your Skype app installed, you can have therapy sessions from anywhere you have internet access. These can range from your home to a hotel room while you’re away on a conference. Often this can be easy for the person who you’re helping as well. He or she can also connect to the call through their smartphone if they have the Skype app installed.

It’s not just all about talking
Yes talking via Skype is easy. But its still very important to be able to see the person you’re helping, especially when you’re demonstrating a technique. You can easily connect your webcam to your Skype account and you can both see each other when talking.

The number of people you can help increases
This one is easy. When helping people who stutter locally, the number of people you can help is fairly limited. However, with Skype you can be helping people across the whole world.

Related to the point above, Skype also offers excellent conferencing facilities. This means you could be holding group therapy sessions with multiple people, allowing individuals to share experiences, do role-playing, and carry out exercises collectively in a supportive environment.

Calls from Skype to Skype are free!
Everyone loves a bargain. I’m sure you and the people you help do to. If you make a call from your Skype account to another Skype account, the call is free! And you could be speaking to a client in the United States or Japan and it still wouldn’t cost a thing. You can still have clients across the world, and call them on their mobile and landlines through Skype, for prices at a fraction of what it would cost for you to call abroad through your own mobile or landline.

Other reduced costs
It’s not just the free and cheap calls that make Skype an attractive tool. The use of Skype can also mean less travelling and less fuel bills.

Its the way people who stutter connect with each other
Go onto any of the major stuttering forums and you will read about people who stutter organising self-help sessions in twos, threes and groups all the time. By offering help via Skype you are doing so on a technology platform which people who stutter are used to.