The rise of mainstream tablet computers is proving to have unforeseen benefits for children with speech and communication problems and such use has the potential to disrupt a business where specialized devices can cost thousands of dollars.
Before she got an iPad at age two, Caleigh Gray couldn’t respond to yes-or-no questions. Now Caleigh, who has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, uses a $190 software application that speaks the words associated with pictures she touches on Apple Inc.’s device.
“We’re not having to fight to prove to people that she is a smart little girl anymore, because it’s there once they see her using the iPad,” said Caleigh’s mother, Holly Gray, who said her daughter can use the tablet to identify colors or ask to go outside
The chief executive of DynaVox, a “very small segment” of people who buy his firm’s devices, but noted DynaVox this month released a new touchscreen product, called the Maestro that resembles consumer tablets. That device costs $7,820.
Speech therapists said there are a few changes they’d like to see to the iPad to make it more friendly for children with disabilities, including the ability to have parents lock the apps so children couldn’t delete them, or to make adjustments so that people with motor problems would be less likely to open apps accidentally