Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Motivational Speaker

The Apple iPad: Finally an Affordable Augmentative Communication Device, But Is It Accessible?

Filed under: Living with a disability — by at 5:36 pm on Saturday, April 24, 2010

Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices enable individuals with speech impairments and those who are non-verbal to communicate. However, for the most part, these devices serve only one purpose: communication. If the individual wants to perform another task, another piece of technology is needed. These devices are typically heavy and pricey; for example, the DynaVox M³ weighs 4lb s11oz and costs $3,285USD; the DynaVox V and Vmax, with somewhat more functionality, weigh 4lbs 11oz and 6lbs 14oz, respectively, and come with hefty price tags of $7,820USD and $8,420USD. Accessories are extra, of course!

Enter the newest, hottest gadget the iPad…weighing a slim 1.5 pounds and starting at $499USD.

Add the Prologue2Go application – communication software for the iPhone, iPod touch and now the iPad – for $189.99USD and you have an augmentative communication device, which does more than communicate, for a fraction of the cost.

However, with its touch screen, how user friendly is the iPad for people with shaky or jerky hand control? Will things be uncontrollably flipping by on the screen or will apps be flying open unwontedly? Will I inadvertently say something I did not intend? Will this device be more frustration than it’s worth?

With touch screens being the next wave in technology, I’m curious to see whether I will be able it use them accurately even with my questionable hand control. Next Wednesday I am off to Chicago for SOBCon2010: Biz School for Bloggers. Thursday is my one free day and, being mere blocks from an Apple store, an iPad may find its way into my possession. (iPads aren’t due out in Canada until late May.)

If I’m lucky, I will also download the right app from the App Store and have a new communication device in time for SOBCon. Taking an unproven, unfamiliar, uncustomized AAC to a lively, highly sociable conference – nothing like living on the edge!

The alphabet card - the ultimate, low tech alphabet cardI’ll also have my trusted, low tech alphabet card with me…just in case!

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a chai tea latte. Thanks kindly.

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Comment by Darrell

April 24, 2010 @ 6:10 pm

You will always be heard,your message and voice are strong and clear.

Comment by Becky McCray

April 24, 2010 @ 6:50 pm

Cool! Can’t wait to see it in action!

And Darrell’s right, of course. 🙂

Comment by Todd Jordan

April 25, 2010 @ 4:32 am

I’m sure you’ll rock it Glenda.
You’ve become more knowledgeable about accessibility than jusrt about anyone else.

Crazy thing? I just wrote a blog post about this very topic. My brother, afflicted with ALS, can’t enjoy the iPad because he can’t control his fingers. He can drive a computer with his eyes though. Maybe Apple will make such a device available in the future for the iPad and even Macs.

Comment by David Clark

April 25, 2010 @ 6:50 am

We bought one for my wife on launch day, and I was pleasantly surpised that the keyboard worked very well for me – we will be getting a 2nd.

Comment by Adelaide Dupont

April 25, 2010 @ 11:49 pm

Todd: what a wonderful idea to control a computer with your eyes.

It’s been done several times, of course.

Everyone: it’s great to hear your experiences.

A young man with Angelman of my acquaintance has been enjoying his IPhone.

Good luck for the conference, Glenda.

Comment by Kati

May 12, 2010 @ 1:14 am

Hi Glenda

I saw you on you tube too and noticed your name on Ricky’s wall.

I am also hoping to get iPad. I pre-ordered mine to try. I was wondering if having a screen protector on would make it slightly less sensitive as when I had one on Blackberry storm you really had to press on some of the buttons near edges.

I will write a review when I get mine on whether I find a screen sensitivity setting.

I know with proloquo2go you can make the icons really big, so aiming for middle of a bigger button may prevent you hitting other things and saying wrong word.

I’m not sure how I will go on with the multi-touch gestures yet and whether I can adapt them.

Comment by Zachary Evans

May 14, 2010 @ 1:43 am

i am planning to buy an iPad since it looks lighter than a regular desknote and i don not use much of the features of a laptop.;’;

Comment by Mae Buzen

May 14, 2010 @ 4:26 am

Affordable, it is! I enjoyed my iPhone but have gotten the iPad just recently though I’ve only been playing puzzle games. I’d like you to try out StarFaces if you have one. Certainly one of the best iPad app. I had played this game on my iphone for a while and now I have it for ipad and its great! Love the photos option

Comment by Bron

May 21, 2010 @ 1:52 am

Hi Glenda,
I am hoping you might give an update on the Ipad and Pro2go?
I am really keen to see it from your perspective.
I am looking at one for my son who is 5 but he also has swipe issues! He uses 4 icons on the itouch but his movements are very dystonic having Athetoid CP.
Have you come across a keyguard by chance?

Comment by Glenda

May 21, 2010 @ 12:44 pm

Hi Bron,

I’ll give an update on the iPad and Proloque2Go in a future post. But an idea just struck me for a keyguard: a grid created with straws or chopsticks or the like taped to the iPad. It’s not a pretty or long-term solution, but it might work for testing purposes to see whether your son could use the iPad. Just a thought.

Comment by William Moore

June 16, 2010 @ 11:57 pm

iPad is way too cool to own, i wanna buy one next month.:,,

Comment by karen

June 24, 2010 @ 8:13 pm

Just heard about another add-on for your iPad: iBallz ( — from a comment in Leslie’s blog, Mended Wings.

Comment by brian

November 5, 2010 @ 10:07 am

I am currently in the process of having TAP plastics create a plastic keyguard for Porloquo with an iPad. If you could set “hold time” for th iPad I think this solution would be perfect and eliminate the need to spend 8 thousand dollars on a device. Anyone else created a keyguard for the iPad? I would love to see photos.

Comment by Kati

November 5, 2010 @ 2:25 pm

Wouldn’t a keyguard be a problem though if was using iPad for other things?

Even within P2G if went into keyboard to spell something and had guard split into grids for whatever size you had decided on?

I managed to go from 5×5 on screen to 6×6 so if had used a keyguard I’d have had to have another one made.

Comment by brian

November 8, 2010 @ 9:36 am


Good points. But my client is at the point where she uses Proloquo as her only communication and rarely needs to use any other app. I am planning on having multiple sizes made for when her motor skills deteriorate even more.

Comment by Sue

March 9, 2011 @ 9:37 am

Does anyone know of a physical grid that can be placed over the ipad screen, so that a person using it as an AAC would get more snesory feedback/proprioceptive input when trying to access various icons are on the screen?? Thanks.

Comment by Ren

July 23, 2011 @ 1:59 pm

Does anyone know of some sort of keyboard that can be attached to the ipad to be used with proloque? Like a keyboard similar to a lightwriter? Thanks!

Comment by JasonS

November 8, 2011 @ 11:28 am

Have a child with a rare form of leukodystrophy. She can not speak or hear and can not grasp sign language. Loves anything digital so we were going to get her one of these…our concern is the durability as she can tend to have tantrums.

Is there any additional accessories that could be used to cover, like a kevlar sleeve. Just kidding about the kevlar but seriously interested in any thoughts the community may have…pls email or post. Thank you

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