Mobile devices and apps (i.e., applications) are breaking barriers for many individuals with disabilities. There are apps that are disability-specific as well as apps to help with communication, behavior, social skills, life skills, school, scheduling, gaming, and so much more.
When Annaclaire entered 9th grade, she was sporting a new communication device that fits in her pocket! And thanks to the Proloquo2Go communication app, she was the queen of “cool.” AnnaClaire had used the Dynavox Products for many years, which were very successful, but as her mom pointed out, “Like most teenagers, AnnaClaire is pretty much surgically attached to her iPhone, so she looks cool, feels cool, and now communicates cool!” While this app works for AnnaClaire, it may not be the best fit for someone else.
With so many apps to choose from, finding the ones for your child's needs can be challenging. Fortunately, there are some excellent resources that specialize in researching and reviewing apps for people with disabilities:
BridgingApps is a program created by Easter Seals Greater Houston. They provide parents and professionals with tools for choosing apps to enhance everyday life for people with disabilities. You can find some inspiring success stories on the website. Or you can attend one of their local meetings in Houston, Stafford, The Woodlands, or Austin.
Apps for Children with Special Needs has compiled a list of 1,000 apps used by teachers, therapists, and parents.
One Place for Special Needs was started by a mom. Her app guide for parents lists apps by skill set.
Smart Apps for Kids lets you search for apps by age and subject and has a listing of their top picks. Here are some recommended apps for children with disabilities. Many of the apps listed on their site are free to download and use.
Understood.org has a cool tech finder tool that allows you to browse apps for kids with learning disabilities or attention deficits based on specific needs, grade level, or device.
As you shop for apps, keep in mind that many apps are available in a free “lite version” of the fee-based product. Fee-based versions allow more custom options and more content, and prices vary. With the sample version, you can get a feel for the app before making the investment.
If you need a tablet or other device, you may be able to get a short-term loan through the Texas Technology Access Program. This program allows people with disabilities and their families to borrow Assistive Technology (AT) devices and use them in their home or classroom. Easter Seals of Greater Houston Technology Lab also has an Assistive Technology Lab that is open to the public on Tuesday nights or by appointment. Accessing equipment through one of these two locations is a good way to see if the device fits your child’s needs before you spend a lot of money on products that may not be suitable.
With the explosion of new technology, apps for children with disabilities are opening a world of opportunity. Let’s get started! Learn more about Assistive Technology and Adaptive Equipment for your child.