I am a speech teacher and special educator. I was searching the internet for discussions/opinions on use of iPad as speech output devices. My colleagues and I were just discussing (want to come up with rubric) comparing pros/cons of Dynavox-type products and iPads.
You might be shocked to read this response- but please know I've owned both an iPad and an iPod for a year and a half so that I could see what/how I might use both in therapy with my students.
My view on it (presently) is:
1.) funding (for some families- this is a deciding factor)- and, as you know, currently apple products are not being covered by insurance.
2.) If you decide to pay for an iPad out-of-pocket or your district has agreed to pay for it things to consider:
a.) it can't be brought home (b/c district owns it)
b.) it will be given back to district when child ages out
c.) durability- one crash to the floor can break much more easily than most Dynavox products....(you'd need a back-up in the meantime)
Similarly, Dyanvox warranties can last for 3-5 years but, apple products are -tops 2 years. I've searched for refurbished apple products- very expensive (usually 100.00 cheaper when refurbished- so, not a big savings there).
AND, MOST IMPORTANTLY ***** what is the FUNCTION of the device
AND- what are your learner's abilities (perseverations)- ability to navigate or NOT
navigate between pages?
We (monthly speech meeting- speech therapists) discussed the NEED for an app that will "lock" students from navigating from page-to-page. We feel we should write to makers of Proloque2go and see if they can add this feature to their program.
At our recent monthly speech meeting, many of us (providers) were surprised and shocked the districts were appeasing parents with the idea that the district would buy their son/daughter and iPad and then would reduce speech services/related services under the assumption that learning would occur and child would learn at a much faster rate given the devices. We are finding that that is not the case and in many instances with students who perseverate or have difficulty with attention- the unlimited access to "fun" pages constantly competes with the voice-output pages that was the intended purpose of the device. Similarly, we agreed that- if the main purpose of the device is to help a user verbalize (thought voice output) basic wants and needs...the use of iPad versus other voice-output systems the iPad is not scoring high marks on the idea of the purpose of speech-output devices.
Sure, iPads are neat for other reasons and may work well with specific children with specific targets-but I have yet to see a user of iPad make good gains with independence of initiation and expression of language to request basic wants and needs.
I appreciate others' comments and do applaud apple's innovation and really like many of the apps related to speech/language therapy....social skill buidling with videos- its capacity to take photos, voice-record, etc. I am specifically addresssing (above) its (ipad) use as voice-output.
Thanks! : )