What is assistive technology?

Assistive technology is any kind of technology and/or tool that can be used to enhance the functional independence of a person with a disability. Often, for people with disabilities, accomplishing daily tasks such as communicating with others, going to school or work, or participating in activities can be a challenge. Assistive Technology (AT) devices are tools to help overcome those challenges and enable people living with disabilities to enhance and have access to a quality of life, that may otherwise not be known, and lead more independent lives.

The mission of this blog is to serve as a voice of a constant researcher in the field of educational and assistive technologies so that the best products, strategies and services may be located easily, in hopes that they will then be delivered, taught and used to better the lives of people with disabilities.


iDevice Accessories: Tools to Protect and provide Access

This is a changing document. As new accessories are discovered, as flaws are found, as some become outdated or not found to be the best, as others are thought more highly of...they will be added or removed. 

So, now you have the main tool. What do you need to go with it? When thinking of our kids with special needs, the accessories for our iPads/iTouches/iPhones (iDevices) are important to consider. Take some time to consider the needs of the child then pick your accessories accordingly. (For apps, see separate posting. For visuals of most of these items and much more, visit my Pinterest site, "iDevice World" and specific boards as listed below.) Here are a few to consider:

When purchasing a case, consider your needs. Sometimes it is good to live with it a little bit to gain a better understanding of what your needs are. You may want 2 separate types of cases: 1. for manipulating the device and one for transporting. I find the iPad to be difficult to hold onto. It is a little awkward as there isn't anything really to grab onto and it is a bit slippery. Having something with substance or some type of handle or non-slip material can be very helpful. To view an assortment of cases, visit my Pinterest site.
  • As a "teacher (or SLP) case" I like the Active Field Case. It allows me to have full control of the device by providing a strap on the back, for my hand to slip into, and provides access to all of the controls.
  • The iAdapter from AMDi is a durable case with rubberized corners that fits over the iPad. What is exciting about it is the first attempt to cover the home button with a sliding bar, built in handle, attachable strap, table top stand. The housing is adapted to accept keyguards and dual amplified speakers significantly enhance the sound quality and volume of the iPad. It also has a low battery indicator light. All kinds of accessories that can be added to it. Someone is listening to our concerns! Thank you, AMDi. Beware, pricey.  Great case for use as an AAC device. Designed for our population.  
  • The AirStrap Med by Griffin Technology is a hardshell case that covers your entire iPad, incorporates a convenient shoulder strap for easier carrying, and features a handstrap that makes it easier to hold the iPad with one hand—so you can use the other to interact with the tablet’s screen. The case, which was developed with input from physicians and nurses for use in medical settings, can be fully sanitized.

  • Ballistic Tough Jacket is three layers of the strongest protection on the market. An amazing feature is the Ballistic Corners - which means all four corners have extra shock absorption where you need it the most. Also included with this amazing case, is a front cover attachment that will help protect the screen during travel. The cover can be removed and placed on the back of your case and used as a kickstand. 

  • The BigGrips frame is similar to the iSquish Skin with the addition of a stand. It is advertised as being lightweight and durable. (No protection for the screen however.)It is the iPad case made for kids. It’s big, squishy, easy to grab, comfortable to hold, and very grip-able. For an extra $10 there is a matching stand for working at a desk, lying on the couch, or kicking back and watching stuff. This case is difficult to get the charger in and off though. My fingers are not that big but boy, I am challenged.
  • The Bumper Case by RJ encloses the iPad 1 or 2 edges completely, for maximum security. Both cases fit iPad 3 also. 
  • Gumdrop offers several cases worth exploring if you are looking for rugged. The Drop Tech Series is nice if you're looking for rugged, durable yet affordable protection. 

  • Ektopad F1 iPad cover is made from soft silicon It resembles the Wii controller silicon with it's intricate rib structure which is said to protect completely from drops and has a built in stand. Worth exploring. They are available for all your "i" needs. (Also look for the waterguard if there is a little moisture concern.) 

  • The GripCase  has our population written all over it. "Protection plus nice handling built in. With ergonomic handles, a lightweight, shock-absorbent foam body, and smart patent-pending design, Gripcase gives you the convenience, control and peace of mind you’ve been looking for."
  • Kensington KeyFolio Secure is a security case for the iPad 2, which incorporates ClickSafe, a one-click locking mechanism and built-in security anchor. It features a built-in Bluetooth keyboard, an adjustable stand and protection from damage or theft.
  • The KHOMO Dual Case is a case that has high reviews. For you everyday average kiddo (and adult) this case is well worth considering. The Khomo dual case is like the Apple cover but much better because as well as having a Polyurethane front cover, it also covers the back too with a hard rubberized back protector. Thin and lightweight, and comes in various colors. (One of my favorites.)

  • LifeProof case protects your against water, shocks and dust with the. Sealing your iPad case gives you piece of mind. This guy is powerful!What’s more, these highly-protective iPad and iPhone cases stay true to your device’s sleek profile.

  • M-Edge SuperShell for younger kids is the only foam case that stabilizes the iPad enough that a certain amount of pressure on the screen can be withstood and holds the slimmer, newer iPads sturdy enough. The SuperShell is made from ultra-protective closed-cell foam that helps absorb shocks if the iPad is dropped. The case wraps around the iPad and provides access to the rear facing camera and speaker, with push buttons for volume and power. The finely dimpled texture and ridges create an easy, handheld grip while the thick, high-impact corners provide maximum protection.

  • The M-Edge Recon is a nice case for older students. This military-grade iPad2 case is ready for action with storage straps, a strong inner core and a zipper closure. The jacket includes a removable and adjustable triangular Velcro stand. With the case fully folded back and zippered open, the triangular stand can be attached in any desired angle or orientation for typing.

  • The Omnifier case is designed for visually impaired. The Omnifier iPad case uses special gas pockets on its case to raise a Braille pad so that visually impaired users can read what is on their display. When not in use the case folds over to protect the Braille display. 
  • The OtterBox Case is a case designed for protection. They have 3 different ones in their series to explore: The Defender, The Commuter, The Impact Seires. If you are needing something really tough, you may want to consider the Defender Series case by Otterbox. (I would check out RJ's videos before deciding which one is for you. This case is a big buck for your bang and could be overkill. Not the favorite of most AT Specialist. We have had problems.)

  • Hands-free Protective Carrying Case with Shoulder Strap from CTA Digital. The strap attaches to the protective carrying case. Comes with a protective cover but giving you access to all the ports and controls. Protective case includes a built-in stand. 

  • Roklock v3 iPad Case is more than just a case, it’s a system. The Patent Pending RokLock integrated mounting system allows you to mount your new iPad or iPad 2 just about anywhere, so its always there when you need it. The new RokLock v3 case is made from reinforced high impact polycarbonate and includes a Rokgard screen protector. Compatible with all iPad carriers. Optional Maglok magnetic mount kit.
  • Tunewear's Security Locker for the iPad 2 is designed for use in businesses or other public environments, and consists of a clear polycarbonate hard case that is secured together using screws, and an included security lock and wire system that can be used to secure the device to a desk or table. The same holes used for attachment of the wire can be used to attach the included shoulder strap; the Security Locker also comes with protective film for the iPad’s display, and offers full access to all port and controls while the device is encased.  Some possibilities here for our population.

  • For a more mature look, you may want to consider something like the Sherpa which you can get with a cross over strap or without.
  • Tunewear makes Waterwear which is a case designed for not worrying about your iPad when going for a swim. Good option for an iPad on a wheelchair tray and providing protection from the elements.

  • RJ Cooper does it again. He has adapted and designed the Ultimate iPad Case by giving it a strap to aid in carrying the case with amazing protection. Sleek and strong. Thank you, RJ!! 
To view an assortment of desk options, visit my Pinterest site.

To view an assortment of keyboard and mouse options, visit my Pinterest site. 

  • Custom made for our population: RJ Coopers's new Bluetooth large key, colored keyboard for iPad and computer.  Look  for "BIG Blue PadKeyboard".  (Teaching letter location via colored rows saves lots of physical prompting!) Really cool: A keyguard is also available!!! 
  • iKeyboard is an overlay for the iPad’s virtual keyboard that’s supposed to add tactile feedback to make touch typing possible. The size and shape of the iKeyboard limits its use to the landscape orientation of the iPad, which is fine as if we re needing this type of adaptation, we are going to want the landscape mode. 

  • Don't rule out Apple's Bluetooth keyboard! It has a great feel to it, is lightweight and slick looking however, it does not attach and traveling with it might not be not easy. You are going to require a larger carrying case for the iPad and keyboard to travel. If you plan to use it in one place and on a solid surface (or lap) - this is a great keyboard.
  • Brookstone also carries a stand/keyboard combination called the Bluetooth Keyboard Portfolio. When you have some serious typing to do, the on-screen keyboard just might not cut it. It is a little pricey but considering that it covers and protects your iPad tablet plus has the built-in Bluetooth keyboard for wireless touch typing and includes a built-in stand that positions your tablet - not bad.
  • Zagg's All-in-One Companion and the ClamCase are great alternatives. Both provide you with an alternative case, stand and keyboard. Worth exploring both of these to decide which is your best fit. 

  • Does the user do better on a QWERTY small keyboard than a traditional size keyboard due to mobility issues? Does your student work better on their hand-held devices or text on a phone? You may want to consider the ITON PA-BK03 Mini Wireless Bluetooth Handheld 49 Key Keyboard for iPad which is sleek, thin and pocket sized design will provide the user with a handheld option for producing text.

  • Well, this one is not going to fit everyone's needs but it might fit someone's and is worth considering. Not a cheap way to go but the Cube Laser Virtual Keyboard is a box that fits in the palm of your hand and projects a full-size laser keyboard onto any flat surface. Being a flat keyboard just might be what is needed. Project it upside down for those lying in bed??? It’s worth mentioning because it comes with rechargeable battery that lasts for 150 minutes of continuous typing.  It may happens to run out of battery when you’re in the middle of something important rest assured that the device charges via USB and it requires no drivers for installing. Look it up on YouTube


  • Yooralla Glenroy and Lasered Pics are now both making keyguards for the iPad. Lasered Pics also makes colored acrylic options which can be very helpful for students with a visual impairment.  (Take into consideration: keyguards can be limited in their use as many Apps change their visual appearance in different sections.  For example, many AAC Apps have a grid arrangement with symbols, but also offer a pop up keyboard for typing.  Apps designed like this are hard to use with a keyguard without making it easy to take on and off – which then may reduce the usability of the keyguard itself for some.) 
  • There are now keyguards for all the main AAC iDevice programs. TFE carries most. Contact them if there is a particular keyguard layout that is needed. 
Mics. Needs and Adaptations
To view an assortment of misc. iDevice Gadgets, visit my Pinterest site. 
  • If you have a need from keeping a child from pushing the home button which causes him to leave a program, try using BubCaps. They cover the button making it difficult for some users to push through yet allowing adults to have access when needed.    
  • Zagg makes a full body clear protector called InvisibleSHIELD that is a really great option not only for protecting the device from scratches, but also for students who have poor saliva control. 

  • iPevo Point2View USB Camera is a great USB camera for doing app demos at conferences or in the classroom. The iPad 2 includes screen mirroring now, but when doing a demo of the gestures used on the iPad it is sometimes helpful to have a camera pointed at the iPad screen to show the gesture. The Point2View USB camera can also double as a document camera or as a webcam if your computer does not already have one for use with Skype and other video chat programs. The camera itself is 2 Megapixels and it comes with a weighted stand to make sure the camera stays in place during your demos.

  • If you need headphones but your student isn't real fond of something over or in the ears, you may want to explore the AfterShokz Bone Conduction Headphones.  They sit in front of the ear.

  • For a great CCTV set-up using an iPad, check out the Juststand. This stand will help you to be able to use the camera of the iPad as a document camera for purposes such as for a presentation tool and to get a little more creative, a CCTV. 
  • The Hand Glider is designed for artists who want to rest their palm on the iPad while drawing, but may be of some help for people who have difficult isolating to a single finger point. It only covers 2 fingers max but if a child tens to just lean the outside of thei hand, this will work. Otherwise, take a glove and cut off the index finger for more coverage. 
Correct mounting is another very important consideration and this is an area that is really growing. Be sure to check back every one in a while to see what is new. Mountings should be firm, consistent, acceptable to the user and as easy to set up as possible. The iPad will need to be positioned so that the user can both see and operate it easily. To see a wide range of mounts and stands to use with your mobile devices, please visit my Pinterest site

  • AbleNet is carry a variety of access mounting systems that can be used on a table, wheelchair, or even attached to your body.
  • AMDi has various mounting systems developed by other companies. 
  • Beyond Adaptive can help you build a custom package using any of the components they offer or useany of the many preassembled packages. 
  • BlueSky Designs provides the Mount'n Mover which is a powerful  wheelchair mounting system designed with a focus on access, positioning and ease of use. Not cheap but great product! 
  • Consider Broadened Horizon's 3rd Arm Mounting System. This one you totally design to fit your needs. 
  • The Tablet Buddy by CJT Mounting safely supports your tablet at an accessible 45 degrees. 
  • Daessy offers a variety of mounting systems and is also making mounts for the iPad. 
  • Enabling Devices  has designed a mount for the iPad worth taking a look at. The light duty mounting arm expands from 14½" to 24" for maximum flexibility and reach. The clamp allows you to easily mount the system to a wheelchair or tabletop.  
  • FRS Custom Solutions gives you that one stop shop, selling many of these listed all in one place. Good way to compare products.  
  • Inclusive  has selected a number of mounting solutions which can be used to provide  a suitable  way of positioning the iPad in different situations.
  • Levitate discusses several options for mounting your iPad. Worth looking at the Flex Kit. iPad Flex is a handy system that allows your iPad 2 to be strapped onto your hand, carried over your shoulder, fastened around your car headrest, mounted on a wall, attached to tripods, or connected to accessories that can allow your iPad to be mounted on a desk, workbench, chair, or most anywhere. 
  • A very unique set-up, indeed, is the Modular Hose AT iPad kit. Although a little strange looking, this is a perfect set-up for our users who have a hard time accessing devices. It will bring the device to the user instead of the user needing to go to the device.
  • RJ Cooper's Tablet Mounts are the most affordable available. Be sure to explore his line and call him if you need help figuring out your best solution. 
  • TurboMount has a table, floor and wall mount designed for our population.  
To view an assortment of mounts options, visit my Pinterest site. 
To view an assortment of scanners, loo under iDevice Gadgets on my Pinterest site.
Scanners work well for the VI and LD population who need to have text enlarged or read to them. You can also conveniently transfer your scans via e-mail, WiFi, USB connection, and various cloud storage services such as Drobox. A few to consider:
  • iConvert Scanner by Brookstone captures sharp, detailed JPEG images and saves them directly to the photos folder. (With the iPad 3, the pictures will be much sharper than with the iPad 2 model.) The front feeder adjusts from 2" to 8" wide to fit most common sizes of photos and documents. The scanner works with a free downloadable app at the App Store. This nice little video provided by YouTube allows you to see it in action. 

  • Pocket Scanner - Documents on the go By Kdan Mobile Software LTD is an app. I would only use this with the iPhone or iPad 3. Pocket Scanner incorporates leading image processor, file manager, multiple file sharing options, and built-in PDF Reader engine.
  • VuPoint has you save files on a Micro SD card. It can scan high resolution images in color and in monochrome, and it's a great way to turn stacks of documents into organized digital files. 
So many speakers out there.  Just shop around and you will find the speaker system to fit your needs. My Pinterest site has a large variety of sound options listed. Here are a few to consider:
  • RJ Cooper has developed a speaker that will attach right to your iPad on the back. It attaches to the iPad with Super-Velcro and lets you hear the output from AAC apps at a higher volume level than allowed by the built-in iPad speakers. Uses Bluetooth for a cable-free connection. It uses Bluetooth technology so cords do not need to get in the way.
  • Rechargeable Mini-Speakers from AbleNet features two amplified speakers with rechargeable batteries that can be charged via USB.
  • A great speaker system/case that you should consider is the iHome iHM4 for the iTouch or iPad.
Either way, great investment for our kids who need a heavier feel, help keeping track of device and/or for extra volume. Another great speaker system worth considering is the Cyanics Portable Swing Speaker with Protective Case 


  • For the iPhone and/or iTouch, you may want to consider the BONE Horn Stand which will not only amplify your sound but will do so without draining the battery. 

  • For the iPad, consider purchasing a small speaker such as the Altec Lansing iM227 Orbit MP3 Speaker and use a piece of velcro to attach it to the back of the case.   

To see a wide range of mounts and stands to use with your mobile devices, please visit my Pinterest site

  • Arkon 10" Mini Tablet Stand with Quick Release Holder features a universal holder with a quick release button that adjusts to fit the iPad or any 7" - 12" tablet. Adjustable holder fits any tablet 7"-12" with or without a case or skin Quick release button Perfect size for table or desktop use Aluminum construction: lightweight and strong. Compatible with iPad, iPad 2 & iPad 3, and other tablets.

  • A stand for every purpose- you just have to decide what yours is. This is a great stand from Brookstone, 360 Stand that will turn your iPad into a monitor type of view with 360 rotation ability. You can turn it for landscape or portrait view- great for connecting a keybaord to.  This may not be the best option of your kids are a little rough but for the lower energetic kids, great option.   
  • Enabling Devices has a Table Holder with Mount. The mounting system easily attaches to a wheelchair, tabletop, bedrail or tray. 
  • The Justand is a completely different type of stand. This stand allows you to use your iPad as a document camera, an overhead projector...A great tool for the visually impaired population...
  • The SeaSucker iPad mounting system (pictured above) gives incredible flexibility. Using a vacuum technology, you can easily and securely mount your iPad virtually anywhere. This mounting system has been around for other uses- now they have expanding to the iPad. This is a good secure system! 
To view an assortment of stands, visit my Pinterest site.

There are many different stylus choices available now.  Just like a writing instrument, you have to shop sometimes to find the one that fits your needs. For those who have some dexterity problems, you may wish to purchase a stylus. A stylus is also great to use when working on handwriting as it will transfer over to a pencil more easily then the use of a fingertip. To view these and more, visit my stylus page on Pinterest.

  • AluPen by Just Mobile is a chunky, light weight pen. 

  • Doceri Goodpoint Stylus is a highly accurate, ultra smooth gliding stylus with a 4.5mm tip – one of the smallest tips available in a capacitive stylus. While the user’s palm rests on the glass of the iPad, Doceri GoodPoint recognizes the location of the stylus nib and rejects other touches not intended to be strokes. Special functions can be assigned to Doceri GoodPoint for use with Doceri software, including the ability to click and drag objects using the stylus when in remote desktop mode, as well as a WYSISYG setting that matches the stroke width no matter how far you are zoomed in as you write. The flexible stylus tip glides across the glass surface of the iPad with less friction. Additionally, Doceri GoodPoint has separate write and erase nibs at each end. This combination of intelligent, customizable features make creating interactive lessons and drawings with Doceri as seamless and natural as with pen and paper.
  • Consider chunky styluses (such as the Cosmo or Cosmonaut), heavier for providing increased sensory feedback and also make your own handles for styluses to enlarge the grasping surface or sensory awareness for the user.
  • ShapeDad’s Stylus Sock Pro provides small socks made of conductive material that slides over a pen holder. 
  • SGP Kuel H10 Stylus Pen  has a smaller tip  compared to most of the others such as the Pogo. The pen has a strap that plugs into the audio jack making it convenient to locate.  
  • Stylus R Us offers a highly sensitive tip to give the ability to hold the stylus like  a real writing tool, not straight up but at an angle allowing connectivity of the side of the stylus tip.
  • Tablet HandPointer by RJ Cooper is designed for those who cannot isolate a finger for that perfect touch.  This allows you to velcro a stylus to the hand.  
To view an assortment of stylus options, visit my Pinterest site.

Stylus Alternative Access
  • A great way to adapt for a mouthstick stylus
  • Etsy has a mouthstick all ready for your direct purchase.  
  • iPad and Tablet Headpointer by RJ Cooper - Thank you, RJ!
  • ShapeDad offers a T-bar stylus for students who are unable to grip a standard pencil shape and a mouthstick stylus worth exploring.
  • Steady Stylus is another T-bar approach. 
  • Get an umbrella! This is the best idea if you really want to see it. I am waiting for someone to make a little umbrella that clips on.
  • Go to settings and turn the brightness all the way up. Makes a bit of a  difference, might want to turn it back down indoors as it will cut battery life a bit.
Switch Access
An article worth exploring if you want to use a switch with an iPad is Jane Farrall's article, "How do I use a switch with an iPad". This is an area that will continue to grow and change so check back often. 

  • The  APPlicator is a Bluetooth Switch Interface that has been specifically designed for the AT Market. Careful consideration of the needs of switch users has resulted in a device that provides both ease of use and great functionality in one single unit. This is the only interface which works with all of those apps. It also offers switch access to the music on the iPad/iPhone and it also gives you switch access to taking a photo in the camera app.  Just remember - there are still limited numbers of apps that have switch access built in, whichever interface you get.
  • If you want to be able to select an individual app, launch it and then use it, then   the Tecla Shield from Komodo is a good option.  (It's important to know that it only works with apps that are VoiceOver accessible.) The Tecla Shield for iPad is designed to provide access to the entire device, not just a few apps as it is the case with current interfaces (see below). In addition to navigation of all features on the iPad, they have successfully tested switch access to Skype, YouTube, iBooks and iTunes. Most other apps should also be accessible, but similarly to the context of web accessibility, some apps will not be usable with switches because they don't follow best practices in accessibility. This tends to be more common with gaming apps. But, this is going to be so much further than where we have been before! keep your eyes and ears open. For a review, check out Tecla Shield for iPhone and iPad – Adding greater switch access to iOS
  • The Hook iPod Switch Access by AbleNet provides simple to advanced control of your music playlist with an auditory menu of functions you can control with your switch.  Hook is preconfigured in single switch mode to play/pause, skip forward and back, and adjust volume.
  • Big Button iPad Remote from RJ Cooper was designed for easy access for an iPod. Listening to music just became an independent activities for people with challenges with fine motor control.
  • Technical Solutions has developed the iScan MP3 that is a scanning switch interface for the iPods. 
  • RJ Cooper has a wireless switch interface to use with the iPad.  This would work great with the Tap to Talk program, to  play and pause videos, eventually operating email, spelling, various games... Plug any switch(es) into it for cause/effect, switch timing practice, AAC auto-scan and step-scan. Also, check out the SuperSwitch with bluetooth built in switch interface. 
  • AbleNet is carrying the Blue2 Bluetooth switch which is a dual switch. It supports both single and dual switch access through direct access using the two built-in switches, or plug in your favorite switches into the available ports to fit your individual needs.
  • The Applicator  iPad Bluetooth Switch Interface provides access to (switch accessible) Apps, music and photography in one device. It is supposed to be simple to set-up and use, and loaded with features to cater for all requirements. If you have the iPad with a built in camera and want to provide switch access to snap some pictures – the Applicator will do that as well.
  • Having a hard time isolating a single finger? Try a glove and cutting out the fingertip.  
For updated information on switches and scanning on an iPad, go to Spectronics and read their latest research in this area.