Apple has created a section in its App Store called “Special Education” to recognize the increasing number of apps for people with disabilities, including learning disorders and non-verbal autism.
Launched last week, the app shelf includes 72 applications for the iPhone and 13 applications for the iPad in 10 categories of disability and special needs from literacy and learning to language development to communications. In fact, this category spans much farther than education to include apps for adults to aid in work and play.
At the Assistive Technology Industry Association conference in Chicago last week, tablets and applications took the industry by storm. The iPad, iPhone and iTouch, for example, are three mainstream technologies that have access already built in, and adding specialized apps for people with disabilities is creating skyrocketing demand for these devices.
Apple also has a page listing many third-party hardware solutions for people with disabilities who use these devices, including T-coil ear loops for hearing impaired music lovers, and different types of styluses for the multi-touch screen, when using fingers is not an option.
Assistive tech guru R.J. Cooper has created a new switch interface for the Ipad. This would let people with mobility and learning impairments who cannot use their fingers to interact with the iPad. Switch access alone won’t make an app work; this can only be done when the app developer programs it to do so. The first app to have A/B switch access/scanning will be the TapSpeak line of apps from Conley Solutions.
R.J. Cooper will also be releasing his own apps, including RadSounds for cause/effect, with switch access and Point to Pictures, his AAC training software, also with switch access.
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