Welcome to the Aidis Trust blog. Here you’ll find our posts on assistive technology that are meant to inform and encourage discussion. Feel free to join in!

My New iPad – Technology At Its Best!

ipad mini

I recently got a new iPad Mini as my birthday present (thanks Mum!). I thought I’d write a blog about how I use the iPad, how I access Apps and what it helps me to do that I couldn’t do before. 

Why an Ipad Mini? (And setting it up!) 

I chose an iPad Mini not only because they look cool, but also because of my very limited visual field, smaller screens have always been easier for me to see and to navigate. I also find it easier to see the layout on the icons on the iPad screen and this makes it easier to work on it – and play games too! 

Setting it up was relatively easy, although I did decide to make sure that my Mum was there to help me. Whilst the iPad itself has amazing accessibility features, both built in and with different Apps that you can buy and use, the actual setup dialogue on the screen I found very hard to read because it is so small. So I made sure that I had some help. The iPad asks you if you want to make use of accessibility features such as Siri, which can be a great tool. I love it! You also have to verify your email address and sync up your emails, which I might have found difficult to do without my Mum being there. It would be good if Apple let you choose the font size for the set-up instructions. 

Accessibility 

Luckily for me, I already own a Mac computer, so when I was looking for a tablet as the perfect birthday present, I was pretty sure the iPad was my best bet. It had the same VoiceOver and Zoom settings as a Mac and so I was able to get used to these very quickly. Also, to zoom in on the iPad, you swipe your fingers in a kind of ‘opening’ motion over the screen, which is really handy when you want to zoom in on one thing very quickly. This might be hard to do for someone with limited dexterity, and I have to say, because of my bad hand/eye co-ordination , this took a bit of practice, but I learned quickly after being shown by my Mum a few times. I find the accessibility on Apple products generally to be top notch (my iPod even has a VoiceOver feature telling you which song and album is playing when you press the central button which is amazing!). So accessibility has never been a problem. There are also other options for people with other disabilities, that I outline in my earlier blog about Mac computers – these apply to the iPad as well. 

I found typing on the iPad a bit difficult at first because there are no physical keys on it (although you can buy other keyboards to connect which is something I’d consider!). Now I’ve got used to typing though – it just takes some practice. 

I also find it really helpful to use during my classes. Our work is emailed to us and the rest of the class print it out ahead of class. I do this too,, but it’s often difficult for me to read the work at the same time. With the iPad, I can enlarge an electronic copy which makes working a lot easier.

The camera on the iPad is far easier for me to use than the one on my phone because of the larger screen, the calendar can be enlarged as well as the clock, and I absolutely love FaceTime, although it does mean my family notice when my makeup goes wrong or my hair is a mess!  

Now For the Fun – The Apps! 

I love Garageband first of all, which is a built in App already installed on the iPad. It helps you to create music but using pre-loaded sounds and you can record your own voice singing along to songs or you can make up your own. I find this App really easy to use, and mostly use it with the Zoom function rather than VoiceOver, because the voice interferes with my singing! My Uni flatmates probably aren’t too impressed! But in all seriousness, it’s very easy to access and a lot of fun. 

Anyone that knows me knows I love drawing and Disney – so what could be better than an App that puts those things together?! I have Disney Creativity Studio, Version 2 on my iPad, which gives you more features  than version 1 . The best part about this App is that it’s free with in-App purchases being optional, so you can pick and choose which extras you want to buy. I love this App as you can learn to draw the Disney characters, the colours are bright and fun (and easy to see!) and it’s so clear I don’t have to use the Zoom feature! Disney artists tell you when to press the arrow to move on to the next step, but it would be cooler if they gave a verbal description of what to draw too (e.g. ‘draw a circle’) but I manage OK with  how clear the colours are on screen. The only thing I’d say about this App is it might be better to have a stylus pen to use with it, which I may well invest in for this App and other things. You can just use your fingers though, which I do for now. 

I also love singing, and downloaded a karaoke App called Disney Spotlight Karaoke! This one is great as it teaches you to sing and then you can either sing songs that you have on iTunes or Disney songs while the lyrics come up on screen. The only annoying thing about this one is you have to do the singing lessons to unlock the songs, and again they are in – App purchases, but hey it’s free so I’m not complaining! I find this one to be a lot of fun and very accessible too, because of the small screen on my iPad. I’ve only had my iPad a matter of weeks, so I wanted a couple of Apps to try out for fun. I’m sure I’ll be downloading more soon! 

Apps for Disabled People 

Most of the accessibility features I need to use the iPad are already built into it, and this is excellent. However, I really wanted a colour indicator one because I sometimes find it really difficult to identify colours, especially when friends and I go shopping for makeup and nail polish! Unfortunately, the App wasn’t too easy to find – I had to Google’ colour indicator App’ – but eventually I found one. It’s called Colour ID and again, it’s free! Must be my lucky month! I love this App because you can ask it to tell you ‘simplistic’ colours such as ‘red’ ‘light green’ and ‘blue’ or the more complex colours like ‘cobalt grey.’ The App works by positioning your iPad camera in front of the object you want, and then it detects the colour for you and speaks it as well as writing it in words at the top of the screen (the writing is white on black background so it is high contrast). This App is great and will make shopping trips a whole lot easier, making me more independent and stopping me form asking friends all the time. I’m looking forward to them even more now! 

The Verdict! 

I love my new iPad and find it really easy to access. Using the in-built features as well as certain Apps makes it a brilliant tool both for work – and play! – and I’m looking forward to testing out more Apps and blogging about them in the future! 

How does technology help you live your life as a disabled person? Get involved int he conversation! 

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