Tuesday, May 11, 2010

iPad Assistive Technology/Disability Round-Up

iPad Assistive Technology/Disability Round-Up: "

An iPadThere have been a lot of articles on a lot of websites about accessibility and the iPad since the specifications were first released. Now that our USA readers and bloggers have begun to get their hands on the devices there are even more articles being written, and I’m sure more will follow as the 3G enabled devices are released in the USA and both models become available in other countries starting on May 28th. As an assistive technology enthusiast and disabled blogger, it’s fantastic to see so much interest in the non-mainstream uses of these devices!

The iPad And Vision Impaired Users

ipad-heroThe “Booked” blog from mainstream Forbes.com has written Apple’s iPad Brings Easy Reading to the Blind which may help explain to able-bodied people who so many blind users are excited about the iPad.

Mac-cessibility has written about the iPad’s use for those who will use its VoiceOver screen reader in a series of articles entitled “A First Look At The iPad”:

AccessWorld, a publication of the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), has published a great article by Bradley Hodges about his first 24 Hours with the iPad.

The Mac-cessibility round table podcast special episode #5 discusses the iPad.

UNC’s Brian Payst, in the Stuff blog has written about the iPad for blind users, particularly thinking of students, in The iPad And Accessibility and The iPad And Accessibility, Round 2.

The RNIB in the UK published first impressions of the iPad’s accessibility (curiously, only available as a Word document) by a partially sighted user and a blind user.

The iPad and Deaf Users

The deafmac.org blog (which, by the way, has a new layout and a new editor) has published several posts about the iPad too:

The iPad And Mobility Impaired Users

Jane Vincent from Access On Main St (I think this is a cool blog name!) has written about the iPad as environmental control unit, and about possible problems with multi-fingure or multi-hand gestures in iPad Gives Users More Than One Finger.

The iPad And Communication Impaired Users

ipad-heldKati, a frequent commenter here, has just pre-ordered her iPad. She plans to use The iPad As An Affordable AAC Solution for herself, as an adult with Ataxia.

Other iPad Information

Glenn Fleischman at TIDBits reported that the iPad Camera Connection Kit’s USB adapter works with USB headphones and headsets. At almost the same time, TUAW noted that at least some USB keyboards work on the iPad via the USB adapter too, although keyboards only work after displaying an error message. Since neither of these functions are officially supported by Apple they may stop working with any iPad upgrade, but for the moment they seem to be fine.

If you’re willing to jailbreak your iPad and thus void your warranty, you can also enable iPad voice commands and use a Magic Mouse with your iPad which have major accessibility implications. Unfortunately, Jailbreaking has been known to break devices in un-fixable ways though, so any of these things are definitely “at your own risk”.


It’s also worth noting that as well as the huge range of general-audience cases, speakers, mounts, and stands for the iPad there are some specifically chosen for their accessibility potential. RJ Cooper has made available a great set of accessibility-friendly accessibilities for iPad users:

Apple themselves have a keyboard dock available for the iPad and its keyboard has some keys that interact with the iPad specifically, as described in iLounge’s iPad Keyboard Dock Review, but there is no full keyboard control or anything near it.

Have you read, or written, other articles about the iPad and how it could be used for a person with a disability? Contact me or leave a comment and I’ll add your article to the list!

- Ricky Buchanan

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Originally published here: iPad Assistive Technology/Disability Round-Up. Copyright Ricky Buchanan 2010.

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