A few weeks ago we told you about TOM (Tikkun Olam Makers) the inspirational make-a-thon we participated in in order to create solutions for people with disabilities. Going into TOM we had our main challenges that we had signed up for, but of course, we also had many other ideas and fantasies of things that maybe we could build or design to help our clients.
One such idea was the need to find or make a keyguard for the iPad, and specifically for use with an AAC app. A keyguard for the iPad provides the same function as a keyguard for a standard keyboard. Usually made of acrylic or other hard plastic, it is a layover that lays on the screen with holes matching the keys or AAC buttons, thereby reducing unwanted key presses and facilitating increased accuracy with typing or pointing for users with fine motor difficulties. The challenge with creating or finding a keyguard for the iPad, as opposed to that of a standard keyboard, is that every AAC app uses a different layout and every user typically has a communication board layout adapted to their specific needs.
The flexibility which makes the iPad and AAC apps so user friendly is the exact thing that makes it difficult to find appropriate keyguards; the options are limitless.
At the TOM make-a-thon we found ourselves in a maker’s paradise. Tools and materials to create anything we could think of. Thanks to Dr. Jason Friedman, who immediately agreed to help us with this challenge, within a couple of hours we had the exact keyguard we wanted, tailor-made to our student’s needs.
And here-in lies the beauty of TOM, not only do people with disabilities come away with practical solutions at the end of the three day event, but relationships are created and collaborations are born whose benefits will long outlast the original three days. Just last week, after learning about keyguards through his collaboration with us at TOM, Dr. Friedman and his wife, Anat Friedman, a digital art therapist, hosted a workshop to help therapists and other individuals create customized keyguards for the iPad.
Here are some examples of keyguards that we created during the TOM event and at the workshop last week.
Customized keyguards can also be ordered online from companies such as Lasered Pics and Beyond Adaptive. These companies provide options for common layouts of common AAC apps and also account for various cases. As you can see, with appropriate resources, a keyguard can be relatively easy to make! Thanks to TOM and our new maker community for helping us too.