Independence – there’s an App for that!

Margi with her iPad

An Apple a Day keeps dependence on someone else at bay.

Let me share a typical day with you and how I use my iPad to improve my independence.

By Margie Woodard. Empowerment Officer for Scope.

Margi with her iPad

Rise and Shine

My iPad wakes me up in the morning with its alarm, as I am sure it does a lot of people. For me I have very limited control of my hands so fiddling with buttons on alarm clocks has always been a bit of a nuisance. Using the touch screen on the iPad is so easy – so now I have no excuse for not setting the alarm!

The weather app is a great boon to disabled people. As a scooter user it’s really important to know the weather conditions especially in the winter. Icy conditions can be perilous. The weather app means I can really forward plan my week.

Daily Routine

I have a hearing loss and use my hearing aids, so using the phone is a bit tricky especially when combined with my reduced manual dexterity. Skype and Face Time are great for me, easy to use so I can stay connected and book appointments much more easily.

Simple tasks taken for granted by some people can cause me a degree of frustration. Switches are a particular source of muttered grumblings. Turning on lights when your fingers develop a mind of their own makes an easy task difficult. Not anymore. I use a great gadget called Wemo to wireless turn on my plugs and switches using an app on my iPad. This App gets even better as I can control lights remotely so my home is a bit more secure. I did once give my cleaner a heart attack by demonstrating the App without telling her and she did think a poltergeist had move in!

Apple TV is also a great asset to me in my working life. I do a lot of presentations both in private homes and in venues as I discuss lost of ways people can live independently. Before using Apple TV, I would try and move lap tops and screens etc. Now I just take my Apple TV and hook up to wifi and I can show everything I need to through a television.

Entertainment

I can book my taxi, and evening takeaway and sort out all my travel and entertainment tickets. This suits my particular needs so well. I can use the touch screen so more effectively that a traditional keyboard.

Usability a given!

What’s so great about Apple is the way usability and accessibility are just built in. Take Grid Player. Grid Player is app-based software that enables you to use grids on an iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch. The app is free to download from the Apple App store. This simple FREE app starts to open up communication to nonverbal people.

iPads can also unlock motivation – something that can be hard for me as an empowerment officer to achieve. In tying to show people with often complex needs how to be more independent I need to fire their motivation. Games are a great way to engage people.

An app called GarageBand is really amazing how it can bring music to life help you to simulate playing an instrument – all at the touch of a screen.

For people lacking motor skills, touch screens are more intuitive devices. There is no mouse, keyboard or pen intercepting their communication with the screen.

The iPad is a communicator

Before the iPad – using touch-to-speak technology was incredibly expensive. The relative affordability of an iPad has made the technology more available for children and adults that can’t use their voice. For example with the simple touch of an iPad, a hungry non-verbal person can communicate exactly what he or she would like to eat. Those apps can then be customised with photos or features to suit an individual’s life and needs.

Another option is Assistive Chat, which predicts several sentence completion options. For the most severely disabled people, Yes|No is a simple app that allows individuals to voice their preference in yes-or-no responses.

For hard-of-hearing iPad users, soundAmp R amplifies sound in a variety of situations. Users can also record lectures or presentations they want to listen to again later.

The iPad is also a Therapeutic Device

The iPad can relieve boredom and stress by making games more accessible – for me playing cards was always a bit of a gamble as I would drop my hand! Now I can play scrabble, backgammon and cards on my screen.

It can help with memory games and of course as a reminder to take medication.

Apple has put accessibility at its core. This means independence has become affordable at your finger tips. VoiceOver is the world’s first gesture-based screen reader for Mac and iOS devices. It lets users who are blind or have low vision know what’s happening on their device. And helps them control it.

Those who have hearing or speech difficulties can communicate nonverbally via FaceTime video calls using sign language and every facial expression from wink to smile.

So for me with my access needs my iPad makes every day life less of a chore meaning I can get on with more important stuff.

My iPad has kept me more independent and the doctor away!