Assistive technology is a term used to encompass software and devices that help disabled individuals accomplish tasks that may have been difficult or nearly impossible for them to do before. Sometimes a device is developed with Assistive technology (AT) in mind during the design process. Other times a device can be adapted to suit the needs of individuals with particular disabilities. The market for a specific need can drive the development of products to fill that need. The Apple iPad has become a great tool for disabled individuals. Many apps have been developed that help make life easier for users with adaptive needs.
Many independent developers are making applications for the iPad that are designed to assist people with disabilities. Apple Computers lists on their official website their commitment to accessibility for everyone. In fact there are accessibility tools built into the iPad as a standard feature at no extra cost to the purchaser. VoiceOver, a screen reader application, and screen magnification, are helpful for visually impaired users. Sticky keys, slow keys and mouse keys can make it easier for users who have different types of physical dexterity issues.
The open face design of the iPad makes it a great design element for Alternative Augmentative Communication (AAC) use. AAC users are speech impaired and communicate though the use of specially designed electronic devices. The iPad has been found to be a good tool for this use. Many users have come up with creative ways to mount the iPad on their wheel chair holders and trays. Vendors are slowly catching up with this need and designing carrying cases and holders for this specific need. The built-in gesture interface improves on the one on the iPhone. Allowing the user to use several fingers at once to control application, and resize or rotate the viewing area. Many users have their own specially designed keyboard that they use for input. The iPad can accept both USB and Bluetooth input devices.
Mark The Geek is a tech writer and gadget enthusiast.