Written classroom assignments are often a challenge for children with disabilities. Something as simple as struggling to hold a pencil correctly can greatly impact a child’s motivation and success in completing homework. For students with more significant limitations, such as cerebral palsy, using a pen or pencil to fill in worksheets may be a complete impossibility. I am constantly looking for tools to help my students complete class and homework assignments as independently as possible. We have tried out a number of PDF annotation apps, but those tend to be designed for adults and have complicated menus and too many menu options for my students to be able to manage on their own.
More recently we started using SnapType for Occupational Therapy. It is a refreshingly simple but extremely useful app, developed by Amberlynn Gifford during her occupational therapy studies. It really is a snap to use. Snap a photo of your worksheet. Tap the page where you want to insert an answer, and type the answer.
Simple tools at the top of the page allow you to change the color and size of the font. The text box can also be easily moved and placed by simply dragging it to where the user wants it to be.
The worksheets can then be saved, organized into folders, and printed or shared in a variety of formats.
Students who have difficulty typing but have clear speech can use the dictation feature on the keyboard (see the mic icon in the screenshot below) to fill in worksheets. Siri must be turned on in Settings and there must be access to WiFi in order to use the dictation feature. Dictation is available from iPad 3 and up.
The Pro version of the app has a few added features as outlined in the following picture.
The whiteboard filter feature allows the user to turn the photograph into a black and white page (similar to features in scanner apps) and to change the contrast. This feature allows for ink conservation when printing, as printing a photograph (even when the photographed page is black and white) uses colored ink.
The Colored Background Filters are useful for students with visual differences. For some students it becomes easier to read when the page has a different background color.
You can watch videos about the various SnapType features on their YouTube channel.
This app has completely changed the way many of my students engage in classroom and homework activities and is a welcome addition to the educational tools for students with disabilities. We would love to see the addition of a drawing feature to allow for marking on the page. While still keeping it simple this addition would make it an all-in-one app for classroom and homework assignments.
Thank you Amberlynn Gifford for a great app! We look forward to your next inspiration.