(Mobile Technology: smart phone, iPad, Kindle Fire, etc.)

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Mobile technologies:
  • Are portable, generic, easily‐available devices, including:
    • Music/game players (Apple iPod Touch, Nintendo 3DS)
    • Smart phones (Droid, iPhone, Samsung Galaxy S)
    • Tablet computers (Kindle Fire, iPad, Galaxy Tab)
  • May run "apps" (applications or programs) that can be used by people with disabilities and/or professionals
  • Are becoming increasingly popular for use as assistive technology

What's the Difference?

Each product varies by:
Picture of tablets side-by-side.

  • Hardware (device, manufacturer)
    • iPad by Apple
    • Galaxy Tablet by Samsung
  • Mobile Operating System (platform)
    • HINT: Similar to difference between Windows vs Mac computers
    • Apple, Google, Microsoft, Blackberry, Palm, etc.
Apple vs Android visual



Where you buy the device
Apple store
iPod Touch, iPad, iPad2, etc.
various manufacturers
platform from Google
Where you buy the apps
internet &/or computer program
Google Play
formerly "Android Market"
Available Apps
1,500,000 +
Special Education section of App Store
675,000 +
Search Play Store
Use keywords like "Special Education" "Autism" or similar
Standard Built-In
VoiceOver, Zoom, Captions, Assistive Touch, etc
Varies by product
Most have text-to-speech, vision, & hearing support
Google provides info to app developers here

How Can I Use It?

It is important to know how and why these devices can help people with disabilities - and what they can't yet do.
uses columns.png
Uses of Mobile Technologies - Columns. Click to view PDF file.
uses chart.png
Venn diagram describing the overlap in use of mobile technologies for work, play, assistive technology and learning . Click to view PDF file.


Public Options

Most “Public” options (Medicaid, Private insurance, etc.) require that an assistive technology device be “durable medical equipment.” This currently excludes MOST mobile technology options. Some individuals have had success getting coverage for an iPad with communication app when it is "bundled". Examples would be AACI's Choice Communicator, Ablenet's new iPad-based QuickTalker Freestyle SGD, or Saltillo's TouchChat Express.

Some people have had success getting payment/reimbursement for apps. The cost of the specialized app may be considered “dedicated software.” The CPT Code E2511 is for "Speech Generating Software Program, For Personal Computer or Personal Digital Assistant." Specialized apps may be funded this way.

Private Funding

Many people (especially families of children) have better luck with private funding, scholarships, etc.

iTaalk company is a non-profit set up specifically to help with training and funding of iPads as assistive technology. They have a page of scholarship/grant information

In PA, consumers can apply for a mini-loan from the Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation (PATF) at It may fund a low (or NO) interest loan to purchase assistive technology for a person with a disability.

Apps for Telecommunication

Modern telecommunication is no longer just about landlines. Most of us rely on smart phones to make calls, text, answer and send emails, and to check in on social media. The use of apps for telecommunication can benefit people with disabilities, making it easier to communicate across settings, participate in work, and self advocate. The following is a list of apps that may benefit people with disabilities. Many of tof these apps are free and many may be used over Wifi networks. Some may only work on Apple products and others are cross platform. While apps are listed by disability type, there is a great deal of crossover. As well, the native accessiblity features on any tablet or cell phone should be considered. Word prediciton is built into many keyboards and may also help the individual user to send texts or emails. This list will grow over time, and we welcome feedback as to apps that should be included on the list. Let us know what works for you!

Picture symbols of communication modalities for people with disabilities.

Intellectual Disabilities

  • Google Voice
  • Google Hangouts
  • Google Duo
  • Skype
  • ooVoo
  • Glide
  • Talkatone
  • IMO

Blind/Low Vision
  • Big Browser
  • BigMagnify
  • Fleksy Keyboard
  • iCanSee
  • LookTel voiceover
  • mBraille
  • Magnifying Glass with Light
  • oVoo
  • Skype
  • Sprint IP Relay
  • Talkatone
  • ZoomContacts
  • Access Note
  • Claro PDF
  • HeyTell
  • Google Duo

Hard of Hearing
  • Glide
  • Google Hangouts
  • ooVoo
  • Skype
  • IMO
  • Google Duo
  • Talkatone
  • Hamilton Captel
  • Clear Captions
  • Spring IP Relay
  • ZVRS Z5
  • Convo
  • Purple P3
  • Sorenson nTouch
  • Glide
  • Google Hangouts
  • ooVoo
  • Skype
  • IMO
  • Google Duo
  • Talkatone


Mobile devices can support people with disabilities in many ways. Software programs or "applications" are available to help with multiple areas of need, including Behavior (visual schedules, reminder systems), Cause & Effect (early learning for communication), Communication (use pictures, words, or recorded speech to express self), and much, much more!

PIAT presentation

This presentation below describes how mobile technologies can promote community inclusion and independence for people with disabilities. It gives information for the professionals and/or family members to help set up an iPod Touch or iPad to be used by self-advocates. Examples of apps are provided for various types of assistive technology (AT), including: communication, social skills, language development, fine motor skills, organization, behavior, functional living, hearing, vision, and more!

Going green? Click here for a printable PDF file of these slides in handout format (6 slides per page to save paper).

MAX Conference 2015: Increasing Communication and Language using Mobile Technology handout (PDF file)

Augmentative Communication Apps: Making the Best Choice for the Best AAC Voice

Webinar from AAIDD & ISAAC -

  • Watch online (slides + recording of speakers) at
  • The process of identifying the optimum AAC App (s) for an individual with complex communication needs begins by determining whether the individual would be best served by this tool as opposed to other strategies. If so, the next steps is to understand the basic features that match the individual’s skills and needs. This webinar provides information to assist in navigating these new options and new times in order to provide, where appropriate, the most functional AAC solution using mobile technology (e.g., iPod Touch, iPad).
Participants will leave with:
  • A clearer understanding of the variety of AAC Apps available
  • Features to be considered when making these decisions with real-life examples
  • Ideas based on case examples
  • Additional online resources for further learning

Handouts for additional information include: Apps Summary handout (PDF file) and Online Resources handout (PDF file).

List of iTech (Apple product) Apps

Here's a list of "apps" that PIAT (Pennsylvania's Initiative on Assistive Technology) has posted. It includes the name, device (iPod Touch and/or iPad), price of app, and the potential category of assistive technology (e.g., useful for Communication, Vision, Hearing, etc needs).

You can also access the spreadsheet here

Remember: there are new apps everyday, so this is not an exhaustive list. Please let us know (on the Discussion Board) if we've left off one of your favorites!

Selected Resources

Click here for a handout view of these resources (PDF file).

Check out this wonderful collection of iTech resources:
Thanks to Lauren S. Enders, a speech-language pathologist here in Bucks County, PA!

How to Get Started - iTechnology as Learning Tools

Choosing Apps

Quixey, the Search Engine for Apps,
Let's you search ALL app stores by Keyword.Can sort responses by Operating System (i.e., Android, Blackberry, iPad, iPhone, Windows Phone).

Google Logo.png
When you do a Google search, you might feel like it is hard to see the forest for the trees. However, once you input your initial search, you will see additional search tools under the search window. If you click on "More", you can refine your search to look for apps only.

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Apps

  • NOTE: Remember that communication supports (including software, apps, and devices) should be matched based on the consumer's needs. It is important to review the person's communicative strengths and needs and receive input from a team before selecting an app.

ATPN "iPad's Claim to AAC"

Insurance Coverage and iPads for Communication

Over the past few years, companies, such as ACCI and FRS, have created iPad-based, "bundled", communication devices. These devices include a sturdy case and additional amplification. Bundling these features together means that it is now possible to request insurance coverage. These are considered dedicated communication devices. In insurance speak, this means that you can't surf the web or play Angry Birds. The iPads are 'dedicated' to communication, and will thus be considered "durable medical equipment." The following devices are currently on the market.
  • The TouchChat Express from Saltillo
  • The Choice Communicator from ACCI
  • The Prio from PRC
  • The Quicktalker from Ablenet
  • The Proslate 10 from FRS

Most companies provide funding assistance. Once your client is evaluated and the technology has been deemed appropriate, they will help you submit your claim to insurance, including Medicaid, Medicare, and private coverage. The report must be written by a speech-language pathologist.

"Autism" Apps

Accessories for Accessibility

Mounts, Cases, Keyguards

Switch Access (Scanning)

Android Market

Don't forget about Android! Tablets and other mobile devices can also run the Android operating system from Google. That means these touchscreen mobile technologies can also help people with disabilities. But you need to find applications from Google Play Store (NOT iTunes) for these products. For more information about Android vs Apple, see the above Presentation.

Check out this blog post that features Android Apps specializing in access for the visually impaired and blind. It provides an introduction to specialty apps for Android and various Apps to try.

Apps for Cause and Effect

Tablet computers, such as the iPad, can be used for teaching cause and effect relationships for early learners. The below list is divided into general apps for cause and effect, those that may benefit individuals with vision impairment, and those that work with alternative access modalities.
The below list is not comprehensive and prices may change over time.

General Cause and Effect

  1. 1. I Love Fireworks (on list)
  2. 2. Sensory Light Box $3.99
  3. 3. Make It Pop (Tryangle Labs) $1.99
  4. 4. Peekaboo Barn (on list)
  5. 5. Random Touch $0.99
  6. 6. Talking Larry Free
  7. 7. Butterflies (iBlower) $0.99
  8. 8. Fun Bubbles $0.99
  9. 9. Finger Paint with Sounds (on list)
  10. 10. Heat Pad HD $0.99
  11. 11. Touch Trainer (Touch Autism) $4.99
  12. 12. Touch Switch (Goatella) $4.99

Cause and Effect Apps for Switch Use

  1. 1. Sensory Room (Inclusive Technologies) Free
  2. 2. Splat The Clown (Inclusive Technologies) $2.99
  3. 3. Sight and Sounds Flowers (Marblesoft) $4.99
  4. 4. Sight and Sounds Fireworks (Marblesoft) $4.99
  5. 5. Switch Kids (Marblesoft) $9.99

Cause and Effect for Low vision

  1. 1. Buzz Back Free
  2. 2. Tap n See Now $2.99
  3. 3. Bloom (Opal Limited) $3.99
  4. 4. Bebot (Normalware) $1.99
  5. 5. My Talking Picture Board (for CVI) $19.99
  6. 6. Sensory Sound Box (Cognable) $0.99
  7. 7. Big Bang Pictures (Inclusive Technology) $19.99

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