From Weird to Cool: The iPad as Assistive Device | Cult of Mac

From Weird to Cool: The iPad as Assistive Device

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One of the most exciting things about Apple’s overall shift to touchscreen technology in the last few years is that it allows the iPhone and the iPad to replace much more expensive custom solutions for niche markets. Contrary to what you might have heard, these are actually democratizing forces.

Robert Rummel-Hudson is semi-famous on the Internet as the father of Schuyler, a girl born with BPP, a rare brain malformity that can cause all kinds of developmental problems. For Schuyler, most of the impact has been on her speech — she really  can’t. She can, however, use a touchscreen device to select from lists of words to talk for her, what’s known as augmentive/alternative communication.

These devices are amazing — and very expensive. Under the hood, they’re basically like an iPad but with a lot less horsepower. And, crucially, only children with disabilities carry them. Imagine replacing a medical or therapeutic device with the coolest gadget on the planet — at a lower price. If these many custom hardware solutions are replaced by apps, children like Schuyler won’t be regarded as weird, they’ll be regarded as cool. Rob is calling on PRC, the developer of Unity, the program she uses to communicate, to make a high-priced but life-changing app for iPad. We second that request.