From the iPad to the Real World: Feed the Animals

Some great ideas on making children’s favorite iPad activities into real fine motor activities.


Save the Solar System (and practice your Math skills at the same time)

The Grade 3 one is free right now (12/20/2012). Looks like a great series for practicing math skills.

On Sarah's iPad

 Arithmetic Invaders is a collection of arcade-style apps that can help children practice various Mathematics strategies.  These drill and practice games have a kind of retro-Space Invaders feel.  As I’ve mentioned before, this kind of activity is not going to help a child learn their facts, but they can definitely help the child to learn to recall their facts quickly, which is an important skill when progressing to higher Mathematics.

Unlike other similarly themed apps (e.g. MathBlaster HyperBlast), one does not need a lot of gaming skill to play Arithmetic Invaders.  The controls are very simple so the child can concentrate more on the real task:  defending the Solar System.  Sorry. I mean practising their Mathematics skills.  Children need to calculate the sums shown on the alien spacecraft and then shooting the one that matches the number on their laser gun.  They move the gun by tapping…

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Locking the home button and other features with Guided Access

Have you updated to iOS 6 yet? In my books, the best new feature is Guided Access. It allows you to lock the home button as well as disable other touch features.

So, If you haven’t downloaded iOS 6 yet back up your iDevice then update!

Here’s a You Tube Video Tutorial for a quick overview

Here are the print directions:

Step 1) Turn on Guided Access

Go to settings –> General

Scroll down to the second to last item –> Accessibility

Under Learning, tap on ‘Guided Access’ –> turn on

Set a Passcode (if you don’t you will have to later over and over..)

If you want to save some batter life under  ‘Enable Screen Sleep’ –>  turn on

Step 2) Use the iPad with Guided Access

Open an app, like videos, and start watching.

Triple Click the home button

To disable the home button and all gestures to leave app,  simply click start in top right.

To disable ALL touch (plus home button):

At the bottom ‘Touch’ –> turn to ‘off’

The whole screen greys to show touch not available anywhere

Click Start

To disable some areas (plus home button):

Circle the areas on the screen. Adjust as needed by dragging or tapping ‘x’ to delete. Multiple areas can be circled. These areas now go grey showing touch not available.

Click start

*Guided Access will remember what you set up for each app 🙂

To end Guided Access:

Triple click home button

Enter passcode

Tap ‘end’ (top left)

close app normally

*If Guided Access malfunctions/freezes do a reset by holding the home button and on/off button for a few seconds. This should then take you to the lock screen, slide to unlock, then turn off guided access.

I hope this opens a world of possibilities for you like it did for us!

Proloquo2Go (P2G) Updates

There have been some major changes to P2G over the summer with the update to 2.0 and now more minor ones with 2.2.

Here is a fantastic video showcasing the latest changes in P2G 2.0 by  Amanda Hartmann (maybe I like her because she shares my name!)

With change it is important to be aware of what that means if you have an older device (yes in this world 4 years is old). From AsssitiveWare (The makers of P2G)

This is just the tip of the iceberg! There are so many new changes that can really enhance how P2G is used. If you are interested in small group workshops or private training let me know.

Review of Fall 2012 iPads and what to buy

This fall we have seen the release of another new iPad – 4th generation, and the highly anticipated mini iPad.

The most obvious new feature of the 4th generation iPad is the lighting connector which is used for charging and syncing. Unlike the classic 30 pin this plug has no up or down and stays in better. Once there are more things that are compatible (like a dock station) I will be very happy. And since all new devices (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad and Mini) all have the same connector, it shouldn’t be too long…I hope.

Yes, the 4th generation is faster. But unless you are counting download speeds (a 5 min You Tube video loaded 15 sec faster than the 3rd generation) most people won’t notice the difference between the new A6X processor compared to the A5 that is still found in the 2nd generation iPad and the mini iPad.

I love the mini – in fact I love it so much I’m trying not to use it for fear that my beautiful retina display iPad will become just a glorified TV in bed. Why do I love the mini? Let me count the ways

1. Light weight – an iPad seems like a heavy paper weight at 662 grams (1.46 pounds) compared to the 312 grams (0.69 pounds) mini.

2. For less accurate fingers, the buttons are nicely spaced, unlike the iPhone/iPod Touch

3. You can hold it upright and take a photo with one hand, unlike the iPad

4. The size makes it easy to slip into a handbag or big pocket  vs. carrying a big purse or a backpack. For kids who needs to take their AAC with them everywhere this could be a huge perk!

5. The screen is big enough to share, but not so big that everyone in Starbucks can see what I’m looking at. I can see how this will also be a be a benefit in classroom settings.

6. It uses all the beautiful apps designed especially for the iPad but I also love that iPhone apps don’t blow up to be as painfully grainy.

7. It may no be a retina display but the pixels are more dense than the iPad 2. The mini has a pixel count of 786,432 (1024×768) compared to the iPhone 5’s pixel count of 727,040 (1136×640).

8.. It has Siri – unlike the 2nd gen iPad. For those who struggle to type, diction is amazing and Siri can save a lot of time when you talk nicely to her 🙂

9. The price point means you can get a 32GB mini for less than a 16G4th generation iPad (or a 64GB for less than a 32GB). With music, videos and the increasing size in iPad apps, the more space the better. And on another note – Canadian pricing is now the same as south of the border!

And the cons? Why something else may be better?

– minis are selling out

– its harder to find cases / less available a the moment

– you want a faster, bigger iPad 🙂

So which one do you buy? Need more info?

Here is Apple’s comparison

Here is another article with a good guideline chart for purchasing a mini based on what you already have – but note, I didn’t follow their recommendations so if you are looking for some personalized advice – that is what we are here for:

AAC Apps: Proloquo2go and TouchChat

Both Proloquo2go (P2G) and TouchChat are high quality Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) apps with a long list of features which allow the user to have a ‘voice’ for communication. The companies that make these apps have fantastic customer support and training through their website, emails and Facebook. There are manuals, cheat sheets and webinars. So if you want, and are able to take the time to learn, both companies are there to help.  So how do you choose?  After a debate that lasted all of June, here is what we noted are the largest distinguishing factors for the average user.

Both apps can be programmed to suit an individual’s needs, but it’s a question of what level a person is at, what the goals are, what features are the most important and how much support is available.  At iEmpowerU we look at not just the individual, but also their family and the community around them. So despite the pros and cons,  if someone has support from those who are more familiar with a certain app, then we would lean towards recommending that one. This community support would likely reduce the learning curve and it would be easier for the individual to access help in the future.

Here is a very simple customized page on P2G which includes the target and a blank distractor.

Here is a Touch Chat scene created by Amanda during her ‘learning curve’

Please note , these are all just guidelines to help sort it out. Often people use our services to do just that, figure out which one would be best. And we can then help you get started too 🙂