Comparing iPads, Netbooks, and Auggies for AAC Use
RJ Cooper has put together two very helpful pages for people thinking about purchasing an iPad for use as an AAC device.
The first page compares an iPad with RJ Cooper's own "Auggie" device, the second compares an iPad and a Netbook.
I think his comparison pages are great and can certainly very helpful for people deciding what device to purchase, but I do have a few comments about the comparison tables:
- Contrary to what RJ wrote, the iPad can be used with a stylus. It needs to be a stylus (such as the Pogo brand) which is designed for use with iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch type devices, but there are many of these on the market now. We have discussed stylus and mouth stick users previously on ATMac.
- RJ writes that the menu button (the "Home" button on the iPad's front) is too accessible. I agree completely, but note that this is easily remedied in many cases by adapting the case you have the iPad in, reversing the iPad in its case (so the home button is not exposed) or covering the button with a piece of plastic. I have a forthcoming video article on this topic which will display these solutions in action.
- The keyboard is listed as "On-screen or keyboard dock and Apple keyboard". The keyboard dock has a built-in Apple keyboard and is one option. An Apple bluetooth (wireless) keyboard is another option, but in fact the iPad will work fine with virtually any standard Bluetooth keyboard (one that doesn't need a driver loaded on your computer before it works). With the Apple brand bluetooth keyboard there are a few additional functions available via the keyboard's function keys, but other than that any brand of bluetooth keyboard is fine.
- Web page capability is listed as "Standard pages only" which is quite vague. Any web page will work fine except that pages with Flash or Silverlight content won't load the Flash/Silverlight sections. None of the web sites I regularly visit have any Flash/Silverlight content except for advertisements (and I'm happy the ads don't load!) so I have never found this a problem, but if there are web pages that you must be able to access through the device it's worth trying these out on an iPad when you visit your local Apple store just to make sure they're OK.
RJ Cooper has some other pages you might find useful also:
Making Pointer Work On The iPad has a technique similar to that previously described in our article Accessing the iPad: Mouthsticks and Styluses. The theory behind the two was the same, but Paul's implementation here was less bulky and having the foil at the end means the end of the pointer was still rounded. If you have access to conductive foam (your local electronics store can probably help), a third option was discussed on LifeKludger's article DIY Touchscreen Stylus using Conductive foam.
RJ Sells an iPad Carry Case in black and red, it's a sturdy leather case with a shoulder strap - perfect for AAC users. I'd love to have one of these to carry my own iPad in!
The iPad Bumper Case is perfect for attaching the iPad to mounting devices in a removable fashion, and the Bumper Case provides a little more protection to the device also.
The iPad Speaker is a small battery-powered bluetooth speaker which can easily be attached to the iPad's back, or to a stand or the outside of a case and significantly boosts the iPad's volume. Again, perfect for AAC users.
RJ also offers an iPad Stand perfect for positioning the iPad on a table, desk, or wheelchair tray, and an a small mounting arm available in articulating and non-articulating versions and very adaptable for use as an iPad Mount.
If you're an iPad AAC user, or a parent/supporter/teacher of such, what accessories do you use?
-- Ricky Buchanan