I’ve been saying for sometime now that the iPad and iPod Touch may fix many of the problems with Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) device abandonment we see so much in schools. I mean let’s be honest, even though some devices cost upwards of $5,000, kids do not want to carry these dedicated communication devices everywhere they go. Sure they can be used for other things like turning a TV or the lights on, but they just don’t have the “cool” factor that some of the Apple devices have. With an iPad or iPod Touch, not only can students access communication applications, but they can also access games, the internet and thousands of apps that could be useful. And at a fraction of the cost ($499 for an iPad, $199 for an iPod Touch, plus under $200 for a pretty good communication app).
There are differences among devices however, and I really liked this post on the ATMac blog discussing some information provided by RJ Cooper. In the end, I think that if a student has the physical and cognitive ability to use a high tech dynamic display device that systems similar to the iPad are the future. Don’t get me wrong, we still have a ways to go with helping educators be able to integrate these devices in all settings, but that’s always going to be an issue. There’s also the issue of these devices currently being designed for business users instead of emerging student communicators. Because of this, don’t expect an iPad to work for every student who needs a high tech communication device. But do expect similar devices that function better for students with fine motor and other disabilities to be coming soon.
And last but not least, keep in mind that you will probably need to find a way to attach speakers if you plan to use an iPad or iPod touch in situations with background noise. I know iMango sells some for the iPod Touch that I like, and RJ Cooper has rigged something up for the iPad, but I have yet to find a good case that includes speakers for the iPad. Please pass along a link if you know where one can be found.