Assistive technology- Any item, piece of equipment or product system whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to improve or increase functional capacities of individuals with disabilities (Assistive Technologies: Principles and Practice : Cook, A.M., & Hussey, S.M. (2000). Assistive technologies: principles and practice. St Louis: Mosby).
My understanding of assistive technology is simply that we are using the resources of our modern day and age in order to assist those who are disadvantaged in some way. We have such a wide range of technological advances that are happening all the time and at times its hard to keep up with the changes. In Occupational therapy I think it is essential that the therapist of today are well equipped and have a good idea about what assistive technologies are out there. Although at times it makes our heads hurt when we are trying to figure out how to use a new computer or we don’t know what this and that means, it is well worth knowing how to make the most of the incredible resources that we now have access to.
The iPad is perhaps one of the most exciting pieces of assistive technology at the moment. Not only is it a phenomenon in the work place, schools, or for editing your latest photos, it is being used all over the world for people with special needs. The iPad is a line of tablet computers designed and marketed by Apple Inc., primarily as a platform for audio-visual media including books, periodicals, movies, music, games, apps and web content. Like iPhone and iPod Touch, the iPad is controlled by a multi touch display as well as a virtual onscreen keyboard in lieu of a physical keyboard. The iPad is sold in Wi-Fi and cellular models. The Wi-Fi connection is used to access local area networks and the Internet. Apple released the first iPad in April 2010, selling 300,000 units on the first day and selling 3 million in 80 days. During 2010, Apple sold 14.8 million iPads worldwide, representing 75% of tablet PC sales at the end of 2010. By the release of the iPad 2 in March 2011, more than 15 million iPads had been sold, selling more than all other tablet PCs combined since the iPad's release. In 2011, it took approximately 73% of the tablet computing market share in the United States. During the fourth quarter of 2011, Apple sold 15.4 million iPads. The iPad's (first two generations) touchscreen display is a 1024 × 768 pixel, (197×148 mm) liquid crystal display (246.4 mm), with fingerprint- and scratch-resistant glass. The display responds to other sensors: an ambient light sensor to adjust screen brightness and a 3-axis accelerometer to sense iPad orientation and switch between portrait and landscape modes. Unlike the iPhone and iPod Touch's built-in applications, which work in three orientations (portrait, landscape-left and landscape-right), the iPad's built-in applications support screen rotation in all four orientations, including upside-down (Wikipedia. (2012). iPad. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ipad). The latest iPad has been described as resolutionary. “Pick up the new iPad and suddenly, it’s clear. You’re actually touching your photos, reading a book, playing the piano. Nothing comes between you and what you love. To make that hands-on experience even better, we made the fundamental elements of iPad better — the display, the camera and the wireless connection. All of which makes the new, third-generation iPad capable of so much more than you ever imagined”. (Apple Inc. (2012). Apple store. Retrieved from http://www.apple.com/nz/ipad/). The cost of an iPad can vary depending on the model, but ranges between NZ $579- $1228. There are over 20 000 app’s available for users so it’s safe to say that users have plenty more opportunity to engage themselves.
Here are a couple of videos showing just how the iPad is being used with people who have impairments.
And just for a bit of a laugh....
The iPad has something for everyone, even the cat!
And it has so many great uses! Perhaps a few you hadn't already thought off.