I am intrigued by the iPad’s potential as a computer for people with intellectual disabilities (ID). It could be set up as a Web-access only device, and essential functions could be Web-based. This could be done with computers, but the iPad has at least two distinct advantages.
- no or low hardware-maintenance
- minimal management of software updates and installation
These advantages alone are enormous in terms of overall ease-of-use. They are also great for dramatically reducing long-term technical support- and training costs compared to those needed for computers.
I think that to make an iPad truly useful for people with ID, an even simpler interface could be developed for it. I imagine that, upon being turned on, the iPad could present three or four buttons.
One button could start a Web-based e-mail app, such as CogLink that is designed for people with ID, or one with which a user is already familar, such as Yahoo Mail.
A button could start a Web browser app, like Web Trek, which is designed for people with ID.
Another button could start an augmentative-communication app. They exist already. Jane Farrall recently posted a list of iPhone/iPad augmentative communication apps on the Spectronics Blog.
An iPad, with a simple-to use interface similar to those presented by augmentative communication apps, would be a lot less expensive than single purpose AC devices or multi-function computers.
Readers may be interested in these articles:
- All eyes on iPad, a Great Schools article, by Valle Dwight, which describes how the iPad might be a an assistive-technology device for her son with Down Syndrome.
- iPad Accessibility, an Anikto blog article by Kel Smith, which discusses the iPad’s potential for people with cognitive disabilities.
- Seven Days with the iPad: An Accessibility Evaluation by Darren Burton of The American Federation for the Blind.
Note: For the purpose of exploring the iPad’s potential for people with intellectual / cognitive disabilities, one was generously provided to me by the project for which I work, New England INDEX at the Shriver Center, part of The University of Massachusetts Medical School.
2 thoughts on “First Thoughts on iPad Potential for People with Intellectual Disabilities”
I must admit I had not really explored the concept of a designed browser.
(The principles are valuable whatever one’s cognitive resources! Simple is best).
Thanks too for the links, and it’s really great that you got to try one on the floor.
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