Accessibility Options for Therapy
First off, I'd like to thank everyone who tuned in for my webinar on apps for aphasia last week! The replay and handouts are now available, so if you didn't get a chance to check it out, please do so. After the webinar, I was asked several questions. One was for recommendations on apps for higher level reading comprehension, and another was whether I could make the pictures bigger in apps my company has produced. The answer to both questions is "DIY" (do-it-yourself)- using the accessibility settings built into the device.
Back in July, I told you about the Text-to-Speech option built into the iPad and iPhone. This accessibility option, called Speak Selection, has been enhanced with the latest operating system update, iOS 6. The slowest setting is now slower (thank you Apple!), and there are several different "dialects" to choose from (in reality, they are accents rather than dialects as the voice simply pronounces whatever is written). Now users in Ireland, Britain, Australia, and South Africa can have text read aloud in a more familiar accent.
The most exciting update to this feature, from a SLP's perspective, is the added "Highlight Words" feature. Turn it on so that when you select "Speak" after highlighting a text passage, you will see a light blue highlight over each word as it is read. This will allow clients working on improving their reading comprehension to pair the visual word with the auditory production and follow along more accurately. It's always best to go for functional therapy materials whenever possible, so when in need of higher level reading comprehension tasks, use the client's own email, iBooks, or website interests to build reading comprehension skills using this feature.
As to whether we can make the photos bigger in our apps for elderly eyes, the answer is probably not, but you can do it yourself as needed. Using the Zoom feature of the iPad, turned on in the Settings under Accessibility, three-finger gestures can be used to zoom in, adjust the zoom, and move around the zoomed screen.
It's not the easiest thing to learn, so I highly recommend turning on the feature and practicing well before you're demonstrating it in front of a client. I also wouldn't expect clients to master the technique independently, but when used in facilitated therapy exercises, it's quite useful. If a client needs a better view of an image or text on the screen, three-finger tap to zoom in, dragging three fingers to find the area of the screen you want to look at closer, and double-tap three fingers and drag to change the zoom. Here you'll see a screen with 4 images on it, and one zoomed in.
Voila! Make any app more accessible to older eyes or those with impaired vision using Zoom.
If you're at the ASHA Convention in Atlanta this week, be sure to stop by the Tactus Therapy Solutions booth in the exhibit hall (#828) to say hello! I look forward to meeting several of you and other SLPeeps at the convention!