Monday, November 29, 2010

iDevices and Switch Control

Hardware Based Options
There are three hardware-based options of which I’m aware for accessing the music playing functions an an iPod, iPhone, or iPad, as well as customisable software programs. These won’t help you to use the programs on an iPod Touch, iPhone, or iPad - just to play the music, audiobooks and podcasts you’ve already put onto the device.
Each option has different features, and of course different things work for different people so I’ll let you know as many features as I have knowledge of, and we can go from there:

SpaceKraft’s iPod Switcher

This is the simplest controller, with only three buttons. It has a desktop docking unit where the iPod sits plus a wireless controller unit with the three buttons.
The iPod Switcher with a traditional type iPod
The iPod Switcher with a traditional type iPod
Functions it controls: Play/Pause, Next Track, Previous Track.
Switch access: This unit does not allow your own switches to be plugged in, only the unit’s own built-in buttons can be used.
Compatibility: The sales page just says “iPod”. There’s no clear indication of which iPods it will operate with - it looks like the dock part would only fit specific sizes of iPods.
Wireless controller size: 24cm wide, 19cm deep, 7cm tall.
Button size: Unspecified.
Cost: £295 (No USA vendor has been found)
Notes: The switcher control box is battery powered. The page says “Operates on 240v” which implies the dock section needs to be plugged in to operate, however.

RJ Cooper’s BIG iPod Remote

RJ's BIG iPod Remote being used by an elderly womanFive-button remote with large brightly coloured buttons on the top, separate switches can also be plugged in.
RJ's BIG iPod Remote being used by an elderly woman
Functions it controls: Play/Pause, Next Track, Previous Track, Volume up, Volume down.
Switch access: The unit’s own built-in buttons can be used or any/all of these buttons can be replaced by separate switches.
Compatibility: It should fit any iPod/iPhone/iPad except the iPod Shuffle.
Wireless controller size: 8″ wide x 5″ deep x 3″ tall.
Button size: The large green button is 1-3/4″ and the smaller buttons are 1-1/4″.
Cost: US$119 via RJ Cooper

Technical Solutions’ iScanMP3 (formerly SwitchPod)

Single switch visual/auditory scanning system, including adjustable scan speed.
The iScan MP3 plugged into a traditional style iPod
The iScan MP3 plugged into a traditional style iPod
Functions it controls: Play/Pause, Next Track, Previous Track, Volume up, Volume down, Power on/off.
Switch access: Plug in any standard switch.
Compatibility: It should fit any iPod/iPhone/iPad except the iPod Shuffle.
Cost: AU$190 via Technical Solutions; US$289.95 via Enabling Devices

RJ Cooper iPad Switch and Switch Interface
This bluetooth switch is designed to be used in conjunction with app designed for switch use.  Currently that includes the Conley Solutions's Tap Speak Choices AAC app.  There is information out there that most AAC apps will be adding switch support.
Functions it controls:  any which are supported in the app, will not run the iPod/iPad
Compatibility: It should work with any iPod or iPad as long as supporting apps are used
Cost: US$99 for the Switch Interface and US$149 for iPad Cordless Super-Switch

Other Options

There are some ‘easy music controller’ programs for the iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad which present an interface that’s easier to operate for those with limited dexterity. They generally operate by gestures, where a single tap gesture anywhere on the screen will operate either the ‘pause/play’ function or the ‘next song’ function. Some are configurable so that you can define what gestures mean what.
These are some cheap options I recommend:
Gesture Player
This is the one I use myself to listen to my audio books. Specially cool things about it:
  • Compatible with both iPad and iPhone/iPod Touch. Most seem to be iPhone/iPod Touch only.
  • Clearly displays the function you have activated, so you know what’s happening.
  • You can pick a default playlist to use. Most seem to only have the option to use the full library.
  • Can adjust the sensitivity of the gesture recogniser, more sensitive requires the gestures to be more accurate before they’re recognised.
About the only thing that isn’t perfect about this one is there’s no ability to configure which gesture does what!
Swiper Music Player
Swiper has slightly different controls, so a single tap to the screen moves to the next track and a long tap (press-and-hold) is needed to operate the play/pause function. It also displays the music’s cover art so you can see pictorially what’s playing. Swiper is for the iPhone/iPod Touch only, there’s no iPad native version.
LeechTunes allows some controls to be customised, but basic controls seem fixed, including a single tap operating the play/pause function. There are a bunch of different “skins” to change the appearance and a software function to lock the program in either portrait or landscape mode. It also has iPhone/iPod Touch and iPad versions.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Free iPads for Low and Non-Verbal Individuals with Autism

Hollyrod Foundation has a program to provide individuals with autism and communication challenges iPads for communication.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, November 7, 2010

More AAC Apps Coming to iPad

The world of AAC is opening up even more.  A number of new iPhone/iTouch/iPad apps are being added to the broad field of AAC apps in the iTunes App Store.

First TouchChat by Satillo offers the advantages of a well known and widely used AAC system that has been around for over a decade since the original ChatPC on the iDevices.  Four vocabulary page sets come with the TouchChat - VocabPC, MultiChat15, Spelling and Primary.  A number of other vocabulary page sets can be purchased if more suitable such as Inman Innovations Word Power and PRC's iEssence for literate users.  The TouchChat uses SymbolStix symbols with over 8,000 available.  TouchChat offers something unique to complete iDevice AAC systems - a sharing site where page sets can be posted and used by others.  The TouchChat app is $149 with additional costs for more vocabulary page sets and $59 for six months access to iShare.  A Windows based desktop editor is also available for $59, it must be used with a subscription to iShare.  This allows off-device programming.  The device also offers a choice of five synthesized voices.

Conley Solutions is adding a full AAC app to its Tap Speak Button and TapSpeak Sequence apps.  Tap Speak Choices uses Mayer-Johnson Pictures Symbols, allows 1-56 buttons per page, has drag 'n' drop editing and is one or two switch accessible using RJ Cooper's Bluetooth Switch Interace ($99).  No price has been listed for Tap Speak Choices nor is the type of speech listed - recorded or synthesized.

Smarty Ears is also offering an AAC app now, although much less compelling than either of those above or the original Proloquo2Go.  Smarty Ears AAC app is called Expressive.  It uses non-standardized clip art images, many of which are confusing (i.e. verbs is two clasped hands).  There are male or female voice options.  Expressive is $34.99.

It should be noted that some smaller, innovative health insurance companies, such as Fallon in the Northeast, are now funding iDevice based AAC. 

Finally RJ Cooper mentions on his site that ALL of the AAC Apps will be adding switch access.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

iPossibilities: iPods and iPads in Special Education

You are hereby invited to view the slideshows from the iPossibilities: iPods and iPads in Special Education Presentation give by Kate Ahern, M.S.Ed. and Bonnie Dwyer on August 30, 2010.
That is all.

P.S. Although the presentation is less than three weeks old there is some info that is out of data and new apps that have been added to the app store.  There likely will not be an update of this slideshow (as it is trapped on my iPad and has decided to be incompatible with everything except iWork).