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iPads as Assistive Technology

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The iPad is a consumer device designed to be used via the touchscreen. 
If the touchscreen cannot be used effectively, it is possible to adapt the iPad for access via alternative methods such as switch/es, joystick and keyboard.
This requires the addition of specialised equipment, some setting up and selection of suitable Apps.

Most Speech Generating Devices offered by Zyteq are designed for the purpose.
Alternative access, such as switch/scanning access is usually integrated into the hardware and software.
With a few setting adjustments, switch access can be set up by selecting from a full range of options to meet individual requirements.

Please visit our handy diagram and brief description for individual products.

Click to go to Selection Guide diagram

Speech Output

The iPad, iPhone and iTouch may not be sufficiently loud to use as a speech generating device.  With an external speaker the voice output is louder.  External speakers are usually required to create speech output that is loud enough when using the iPad as a speech generating device.  Speakers are offered by Zyteq are the Jabra Bluetooth speaker which can be conveniently hooked onto clothing. The SoundPod is especially designed for the purpose of enhancing speech output for communication.    


Setting up the iPad for switch access (with or without scanning) requires an understanding of the types of scanning available, the switch interfaces available and  what is required to set it up.

A wide range of switch interfaces are available.  You will need a switch interface as the iPad does not offer a switch port nor USB port.

To best understand switch access to the iPad please read Jane Farrall's Blogs and watch the Ablenet YouTube videos.All links are provided here.

Essential reading and viewing:

Jane Farrall has developed some excellent resources which are essential reading to assist in switch adapting the iPad.

How do I use a switch with an iPad? iOS 7 Overview (click here to go to JaneFarrall.com)
Ablenet's iOS7 Switch Control The Missing User Guide (PDF Download)
Ablenet's video: iOS7: How to set up iOS7 with a single switch and auto scanning (click here for video)
Ablenet's video: iOS7: How to set up iOS7 with dual switches and auto scanning (click here for video)
Switch accessible Apps list by Jane Farrall and Alex Dunn (Click here to go to JaneFarrall.com)



  • ‘cool’ factor
  • attractive
  • He wants to use it to be like his friends
  • Low cost
  • Light-weight – portable
  • Sensitive touch screen
  • Simple to operate
  • Can be used for other activities (access internet, listen to music, play games,  read a book etc)
  • Can start right away
  • Readily available as a starting point for AAC.  Concepts and strategies can be demonstrated and tried.
  • Can be locked to the App for communication
  • Useful as a ‘back-up’ AAC device for some situations.
  • Has raised awareness of AAC
  • Has demonstrated the advantages of the “designed for purpose” specialist devices
  • Increased expectation that use of assistive technology can be for everyone


  • Can slip out of hand
  • Sensitive touch screen
  • Low volume
  • Can be used for other activities (access internet, listen to music, play games,  read a book etc)
  • May need to connect accessories to adapt for accessing needs (e.g. physical keyboard, switch access, joystick access)
  • Usually not provided by funding agencies
  • Difficult to find comprehensive support for Apps, accessories and hardware from the one source
  • Unable to provide ‘voice banking’
  • Usually unable to trial Apps
  • Need to look at screen or over shoulder to see what it being typed (dual displays not a in built)
  • Starting right away may mean that important considerations may have been over-looked, for example has an App been selected which complements the individual’s language learning?
  • Designed as a consumer device for mass market
  • Vast number of Apps available of varying quality; difficult to make an informed choice
  • Requires good fine motor control to select small targets
  • If the iPad is being used to play a game or for an activity, it is difficult to also use the same ipad App to communicate
  • Can be locked to the App for communication
  • Limited options for alternative access
  • Unable to create a grid set to share with many apps
  • Pressure to make an iPad work as an AAC device for a person
  • Distraction of other Apps and functions / knowing the games and videos are in there!
  • Lack of awareness of other AAC options as the iPad “hype” is perpetuated. 
  • False hopes - claims such as “can cure autism”
  • Incorrect perceptions –ipad is NOT replacing dedicated devices. "designed for purpose" Speech Generating Devices are still being developed using state-of-the-art technology.  They are not "old" technology or "dying out".

Other Considerations:

  • Media hype
  • Durability 
  • Support

Carrying and mounting

The satchel from Therapy Box is designed for iPad use "on the go". Wear the strap around your neck or over the shoulder to use the Ipad in the satchel, in portrait or landscape modes. See separate page for further details and images.

With a suitable mount or carry bag the iPad can be positioned or carried for easy access and day-to-day use. Zyteq offers a few mounting solutions.  The Ablenet Universal mount is a heavy duty mount best attached to furniture or square tubing.  The Modhose mount is ‘cheap and cheerful’ and is clamped onto two mounting points and positioned using the flexible hose. Mounting plates for Daessy and Monty systems are also available.


Zyteq usually has stock of most popular iPad interfaces.


iPad accessories are not available for trial.

As these are low cost items they are not available for short-term trial through our usual 'loan/trial program'. Further, as these accessories are being used with a mainstream consumer product and Apps by third parties, there are too many variables to enable us to assist to support any trial. Instead we offer the iPad accessories on a 'sale or return' basis.  This means each item can be purchased and a new complete item is supplied, and if it is unsuitable it can be returned within 14 days.  A refund will be provided less the original freight cost and less any 're-stocking fee' applicable. A re-stocking fee applies if packaging or components require replacing.  If the accessories are returned in resaleable condition, a refund will be provided less the original freight charge.

If you need more help please contact us.

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