5 Ways to Optimize an iPad as a Communication Device

girl with tablet ipad visual

Do you have a child with complex communication needs?

Does your child have an AAC app on their iPad or are you thinking about it purchasing one for the future?

Check out these suggested ways to help improve the success of using an AAC app on an iPad:

1. Receive an assessment from a speech language pathologist who specializes in AAC

This is an important and crucial step when choosing an appropriate app. Purchasing an AAC app from the iTunes store is easy, but which one is best? There are so many different considerations when choosing a particular AAC app for a child and/or adult (e.g. symbol set, access, settings, support, etc.).

Purchasing an AAC app is an important decision that should be part of dynamic assessment with an AAC specialist and the team working with the individual.

2. Purchase different carrying cases for each iPad

If your child already has an iPad that they use for gaming, videos, etc., the case for the iPad with the AAC communication app should be different. The carrying case can be a different color or style but should be accessible so the child or adult can carry the iPad from place to place (e.g. handle, strap). The different cases for the iPads are important so there is a clear distinction between the gaming iPad and the one used for communication.

3. Don’t put any games on the iPad with the AAC app

Games for children and adults can be distracting on an iPad with a communication app.

This distraction obviously varies according to the individual but most often, motivating games can lead to decreased success with the communication system due to the person exiting the communication app to play a game.

4. Hide the specific apps that are distracting and not pertinent to communication

For example, YouTube may be distracting and can lead to decreased success with communication.

As a rule, if I have an individual who is engaging in that particular behavior, I will not download the app, and I will either hide the icon for the internet in a folder or request that the school district delete web browsing apps from their devices. Often, the internet is needed to access photos, backup communication page sets, etc. so hiding it may be a better option for the AAC team.

5. Use guided access if appropriate

Guided access gives you the ability to stay in a particular app. The only way to exit the app, would be to add a password. I use guided access for many individuals but often times, if I follow along with the suggestions above, guided access can be unnecessary.

There are also cases and accessories available that can block the person’s access to the home button. To learn how to activate guided access, click here.

Becca Eisenberg

Written on 2016/03/08 by:

Becca Eisenberg

Becca Eisenberg, MS, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist, author, instructor, and parent of two young children, who began her blog www.gravitybread.com to create a resource for parents to help make mealtime an enriched learning experience. She discusses the benefits of reading to young children during mealtime, shares recipes with language tips and carryover activities, reviews children’s books for typical children and those with special needs as well as educational apps. She has worked for many years with both children and adults with developmental disabilities in a variety of settings including schools, day habilitation programs, home care and clinics. She can be reached [email protected]