Apple is now offering—via its website and the Apple Store app on iOS—a slew of third-party accessories with accessibility in mind.
The products, from companies such as Ablenet and HumanWare, span a range of needs, including vision, physical & motor, and learning & literacy. The accessories work with Mac, iPhone, and iPad, and Apple has grouped the appropriate accessories to the corresponding hardware on its site.
There are three accessories in particular that stand out.
Skoog 2. The Skoog 2, developed by Edinborough-based Skoogmusic, is a device meant to bring music-making to people of all ages and abilities. The Skoog 2 is a tactile, hand-sized cube with five color-coded sides that features a soft surface which lets users play along with their favorite music. There's an app for iPhone and iPad for wireless play, and the Skoog integrates with iTunes and Spotify.
“Skoog 2.0 is an absolutely amazing piece of hardware--it is the instrument that we’ve always dreamed of,” said Craig Smith, Apple Distinguished Educator and Deputy Principal at Autism Spectrum Australia. “The fact that it allows such immediate sensory, tactile input, to explore sound in such concrete ways in interaction with iPad makes it the most accessible music instrument out there. I love Skoog, and our journey with it has only just begun.”
The Skoog 2 strikes me as a great AAC device for people with motor delays and sensory needs. During my time as a special educator, we used similar tools as a way to engage students with the aforementioned needs, as well as promote independence, since devices like the Skoog can be used with minimal prompting.
Braille Displays. iOS has full support for Braille displays, which helps blind users use their iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch. Pair one over Bluetooth, and you can interact with your device(s) using VoiceOver.
Apple is featuring two models from HumanWare, the Brailliant BI 32 and the Brailliant BI 40.
Switches. iOS also supports a variety of switches, which are controlled via the Switch Control feature under Accessibility. Like with the Skoog, switches are another type of AAC device that enables those with motor impairments to more easily interact with their devices--or anything else, like blenders. (Seriously.)
Apple now sells a plethora of switches from Ablenet, including the very-familiar-to-me Big Beamer.