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.


iDevices - Learn these basic tricks to help you be more proficient

The more you play with your iDevice, the more you will learn. Here are a few of those little tricks worth knowing right away. Do it as you read each one. This will help it to go into your memory bank.(For more and up-dated tips, visit my Pinterest site: iDevice Tutorials, Guides and Info which provides links to videos and detailed information about specifics, such as Guided Access and many other useful how to guides.

  1. Small Swipes for Large Actions - Only a small swipe motion is required to flip pages. For example, to advance images in the Photos app, position your left thumb at the left edge of the screen (where it likely is if you're holding the iPad with your left hand supporting its weight) and just flick the thumb half an inch right-to-left or left-to-right.
  2. Accessing - Tapping is the most common move for navigating the device. Tap, hold, and drag for highlighting text, copying and pasting, or deleting and moving apps. Swipe and flick to move through app pages and scroll through text. A two-finger pinch gesture zooms in and out of the screen (a double tap works to zoom in as well). Moving two or more fingers in a circular gesture is still the tried-and-true way of rotating a screen and other elements. 
  3. Tap the Status Bar to Scroll to the Top - Maybe you haven’t checked your tweets for a few hours or you’ve just read a lengthy article. In many cases, you’ll want to scroll back to the top of the page. By tapping the status bar at the top of your screen, you’ll by whisked straight back up to the top. 
  4. Add/Change the Apps to the Dock - The iPad ships with a basic iPhone layout, which includes four apps on the Dock that appears at the bottom of all Home screens. Take advantage of the extra screen size and add up to two more. Tap and hold an app you want to add until all of the apps begin jiggling. Then drag the app to the Dock. Press the Home button when you're done.
  5. Take a Screenshot - Just press the Home and Sleep buttons at the same time. You’ll hear a camera shutter (or, rather, the sound of a camera shutter), and your current screen is saved automatically in your camera roll.
  6. Make folders with your icons – just hold down an icon until it starts to jiggle. Once they start to jiggle, drag one icon on top of another and drop it there. Now a name for the folder will appear. If you don’t like it- change it. Click on the X to the right to delete Apple’s then type in your own. Voila! Add more if you like. 
  7. Double Tap Space for a Period and Space - That's it. Plain and simple.
  8. Customize the Home Button - Within Settings > General > Home, you can choose which of these three behaviors you want to use.
  9. Lock That Rotate - Flick the switch above the volume controls to lock screen rotation. The iPad is quite sensitive to orientation, and rotates its screen with little movement. Locking rotation means sticking with the view you're in, even as you shift position.
  10. Quick Mute - The mute button on the right of the device,  is to mute system generated sounds while you are watching videos, listening to music, playing games so they are not disturbed by system alerts. The mute does not actually mute the sound. It's actually called the "silent" switch and it only silences system sounds like notifications, key presses, etc. The point of the silent switch is to quiet the iPad for meetings, etc. without actually having to turn it on. To mute, press and hold the volume down button. After about two bars of volume, the iPad's volume jumps to zero.
  11. Use Search to Find and Launch Apps - When you're on a home screen, press the Home button to get to the first screen, then either press the button again or swipe to the right to expose the search interface. Tap the Search field and start typing the app name; you'll see that Spotlight also grabs everything similar, including Mail messages, song titles, contacts, and events, as well as the app. Then tap the one you want to launch.
  12. Basic Keyboard Layout - The iPad's onscreen keyboard approaches the dimensions of a full-size keyboard (in wide orientation, at least), but accommodations still had to be made to get it to fit. Example: To get that a in French format, hold down the a on the keyboard. To type an apostrophe, you need to tap the ".?123" button to reveal the correct key. Well instead, on the iPad, press and hold the comma key. A pop-up appears with an apostrophe, and it even appears highlighted, which means you don't have to move your finger to select it. Simply tap, hold for a moment, then release to create the apostrophe. You will find these little tricks for other keys too. Play around and get acquainted.
  13. Zoom Way, Way In - The Zoom accessibility option that's in the iPhone OS is even more helpful on the iPad than on a smaller device because of the additional screen territory. You can turn this on from Settings > Accessibility > Zoom by flipping Zoom to On. The Zoom screen explains the three options: double tap with three fingers to zoom in; drag with three fingers for panning around the screen; and use three fingers to double tap without releasing, and then drag up or down to zoom in or out.
  14. Use an External Keyboard - When you want to do some real typing, pair the iPad with a Bluetooth keyboard or plug it into Apple's iPad Keyboard Dock, not a mini-keyboard. Many are forgetting the importance of ergonomics and are paying the price! In addition to better ergonomics, this setup gives you access to common keyboard commands like Copy (Command-C) and Paste (Command-V), and lets you make selections of text by holding down a Shift key and using the arrows for navigation. You can also delete words with Option-Delete, and entire lines with Command-Delete.
  15. Manage a Bluetooth Keyboard - If you've paired a Bluetooth keyboard, be sure to turn it off or disable Bluetooth when you're not using it. If you enter any editable text field that requires text input and the keyboard is within range, the onscreen keyboard won't appear.
  16. Master Shifting – Double tapping on the shift keys will turn them blue and is equivalent to using a caps lock. Just tap it again to turn it off.
  17. Replace Text - When you select a word, the familiar pop-up options appear: Cut, Copy, and Paste. The iPad adds a new option: Replace. Tap it to view alternate spellings or corrections.
  18. Use the Spell Checker - The iPad includes a built-in spell check feature. If you misspell a word, it appears with a dotted red underline. Tap the word to view suggested spellings.
  19. Two-Finger Zoom - touch with two fingers and expanding (the opposite of the pinch gesture) zooms a video to full-screen mode or enlarges an area for easier reading and then pinch to put it back to its original size.
  20. More Fingers, More TasksIf you’re tired of pressing the Home button repeatedly to pull up the multitasking bar, you may like these three new gestures, all of which require four to five fingers to execute. With them, you can switch between apps and return to the home screen much quicker. Play around with these:
    • 4 or 5 Finger Vertical Swipe - Like a double-press on the Home button, a 4 or 5 finger upward swipe will pull up the multitasking bar along the bottom of the screen. To return it, swipe downward to hide the bar (or single-tap anywhere above it).  
    • 4 or 5 Finger Horizontal Swipe - With a 4 or 5 finger horizontal swipe, you can quickly move between your most recently used apps. For example, if you’re in Safari and want to switch to another open app, you can perform a 4 or 5 finger horizontal swipe left or right to move from one app to another; it’s similar to the 1 finger swipe you use to move between home screens. You can swipe only between apps that have recently been used; to see those (and which order they’ve been used in), pull up the multitasking bar by double-pressing the Home button or by performing the 4 or 5 finger vertical swipe mentioned earlier. (Have I lost you yet?)
    • 4 or 5 Finger Pinch - When you’re in an app and want to quickly return to the home screen, you can use a 4 or 5 finger pinch gesture. (This accomplishes the same thing as clicking the Home button.) Start with 4 or 5 fingers outward, and then pinch them together. Depending on the speed of your pinch, you can either slowly shrink the app until it disappears into the home screen, or do a quick pinch so that the app disappears at the same speed as it would if you clicked the Home button normally. This gesture has no reversal option; to reopen a recently closed app, you’ll have to pull up the multitasking bar. 
    • Gestures in AssistiveTouch - If you have trouble with (or aren’t capable of performing) these or other gestures, you can use the new AssistiveTouch feature in iOS 5. With AssistiveTouch, you’ll be able to access a menu overlay to trigger any of iOS’s multi-finger gestures by performing a one-finger tap. You can also create, save, and play back custom gestures. 
    So, the key word here? PLAY! Oh, there are so many more tips. I love the app Top 100 Tips for the iPhone or iPad”. There are many other lists available if you want to learn more but this should get you started.Another place to peruse is "50 really useful iPad tips and tricks".