It’s that time of year again. Time to look at the year ahead and set new goals; new achievements that we’d like to strive for, in our personal and professional lives. As we discussed in our last post, 2014 brought significant improvements to the iPad for people with disabilities, and we hope for continued improvements in the coming year. In the spirit of New Year’s we would like to make some resolutions. We at the Technology Consulting Center of Beit Issie Shapiro resolve to continue to be creative and optimistic in our approach to improving the participation and independence for people with disabilities, through the use of technology. We resolve to seek creative accessibility solutions for our more complex clients and we resolve to continue to lobby for changes in accessibility options at the developer level to help create a more accessible experience for all users. We will do our part to reach our goals, but we also have a wish list of changes we would love to see.
Our 2015 Wish List
- More accessible apps for people with disabilities – This could refer to a variety of accessibility issues. Specifically, we would like to see more accessibility features in apps that provide dramatic play. Apps like Toca Kitchen and Toca Hair Salon are wonderful dramatic play apps, but their whimsical illustration style can be distracting for children with visual impairment. Adding an option to have a black or less distracting background could make apps like these easier to use for children with visual difficulties.
- An iPad with a bigger screen – The iPad Pro, with a 12” plus screen, is rumored to be in development and expected to launch in early 2015. This larger screen size could be helpful for those users using the iPad for AAC that may require larger buttons due to decreased accuracy in their selection method, be it touch or eye gaze. A larger screen size would allow for a larger number of large buttons. The larger size would also be great for those multiplayer apps like Match Blitz.
- More adaptive accessories for use with the iPad
- A waterproof case with a screen protector. In our hydrotherapy we currently use a Lifeproof case combined with a special floating stand that our staff created. Having a tougher case with a screen protector, such as the Otterbox has, combined with the waterproof features of the Lifeproof would be very helpful.
- Eye Gaze – eye gaze technology is available for computers and we would love to see it become available for the iPad as well, giving access to the iPad for those that have difficulty accessing the touch screen
- An option to run two apps on the screen at the same time – For users of AAC apps, this feature would allow them to communicate and use other apps at the same time. Currently, a user of an AAC app has to move in and out of apps to talk and play or use two iPads at the same time, which is obviously cumbersome and impractical.
- Greater ability to customize and control folder organization – The ability to group apps into folders is essential, considering the large amount of apps we tend to download, but after a couple of years of experience using the iPad in classrooms and with children with complex disabilities and behavior issues, we often find the need to be able to have greater control over this feature. We have put a lot of thought into how the apps on our classroom iPads are organized, but by the end of the week, the apps are all over the place: out of folders, in folders they don’t belong to, etc… A feature that would allow us to lock the organization in place would save us a lot of tedious work reorganizing apps. It would also be helpful to have a feature that allows you to lock certain apps or whole folders, preventing the user from accessing those apps without a code. This could be useful for anyone who wants to protect their settings or other administrative apps, but can be especially useful for users with wandering fingers. We often find in our classrooms that a child has, intentionally or unintentionally, found their way into Settings and randomly tapped on various buttons, changing notifcations, setting alarms, and the like. Under the Restrictions menu you can turn off apps like Camera and Safari, but often there are other apps, such as YouTube or Mail, that we would like to restrict access too, but still have available for teachers when they need them.
We’d love to hear about your tech wish list. You can share it with us in comments.
Best wishes for a Happy and Healthy New Year!
From the staff at The Technology Consulting Center of Beit Issie Shapiro.