Apr 2013

Tutorials for built-in iPad apps

blogEntryThumbnailI have found myself doing more iPad workshops with users who consider themselves to be beginners. As a result, I spend time demonstrating basic use of iPad. I also show how to use the built-in iPad apps (e.g., Photos) for images and videos.

When teaching the built-in apps, I noticed that beginning users have difficulty grasping the concepts immediately, and they wish to have tutorials for future reference. So, I created tutorials for important features in the following built-in iPad apps: Safari, Camera, and Photos. See below for the tutorials:

Tutorials for built-in iPad apps

Note that the tutorials are for an iPad running iOS 6.

3 ways to use the ArtikPix video camera

blogEntryThumbnailThe latest versions of ArtikPix and ArtikPix - Full 2.41 for iPhone and iPad include a video camera feature that can be used in multiple ways to aid children during speech sessions. Here is a quick guide for three easy ways to use the video camera in ArtikPix:

1. Use it as a mirror

The video camera can easily be used as a mirror to allow a child to view his/her mouth movements during speech productions. Simply activate the video camera by tapping the camera button (in Flashcards or Matching); there is no need to press the record button. When you’ve finished practicing, tap the Cancel button to get back into ArtikPix.


2. Record a video and play it without saving

It’s easy to record speech productions for immediate review. After tapping the camera button (in Flashcards or Matching), tap the record button (once to record and a second time to stop), then the play button to preview the video. You can continue to record over each video by tapping the Retake button. For users who choose to preserve storage space on their iOS device, ArtikPix does not require you to save each video. Just tap the Cancel button to return to ArtikPix.

video recording

3. Save a video for later review

Of course, you can also save videos from ArtikPix to access later in order to track and share student progress. Once you have recorded a video (in Flashcards or Matching), tap the Use button to save the video. A prompt will appear in ArtikPix to save the video to your iOS device Camera Roll. You can choose to play the video by tapping the play button in ArtikPix, or by accessing your Camera Roll via the Photos app. Saved videos can be emailed from the Camera Roll by tapping Edit, choosing the video, then tapping the Share button and Mail.

camera roll

Using the video camera in ArtikPix is easy and there are multiple possibilities for incorporating it in speech sessions.

Autism Awareness Month Giveaway: ArtikPix - Full or iTunes Gift Codes

blogEntryThumbnailEnter to win:

artikpix-icon 2 ArtikPix - Full
itunes10logo 2 iTunes gift codes

For Autism Awareness Month, I wanted to do something to benefit individuals with autism and special needs. After considering a few ideas, I decided to do a giveaway on my blog. Since ArtikPix - Full was recently updated, I thought I would include it as part of a giveaway. I also wanted anyone who previously purchased the app to be eligible, so I’m including an alternative option to win a $15 iTunes gift code. Consequently, three winners will have the opportunity to choose either a promo code for ArtikPix - Full or a $15 iTunes gift code.

To participate, please enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below. You are eligible to receive multiple entries for completing the various tasks listed.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

ArtikPix 2.4 Update

blogEntryThumbnailUpdate: ArtikPix 2.41 update is now available with fixes for crash bugs. If you own the app, please update via the App Store Updates tab.

ArtikPix and ArtikPix - Full version 2.4 were released today as free updates. Here's a list of the new features:
  • iPhone 5 support
  • Enhanced design for increased user friendliness
  • Configurable option for word and sentence level in flashcards
  • Target word is now underlined at the sentence level in flashcards
  • Video recording feature that allows you to save videos
  • If you have all of the decks, you can create your own decks and cards. Use a photo or one of the nearly 2,000 illustrations.
  • iOS 5.0+ support. Install this update only if you have iOS 5.0 or higher.
  • Bug fixes

If you like the new features in
ArtikPix and ArtikPix - Full 2.4, please rate and review the apps on iTunes. If you have feedback, please email support@expressive-solutions.com.

If you want to learn more about ArtikPix, please check out the new Expressive Solutions website at

Note that Eric Sailers is a co-creator of ArtikPix, which was previously sold under RinnApps. In 2012, ArtikPix was migrated to a company called Expressive Solutions, which is now owned and operated by Eric Sailers.

GoNow case review

blogEntryThumbnailI just received the GoNow case for iPad, made by Attainment Company, Inc. Below is information and a review of the product:

GoNow Case
  • Description - Lightweight, plastic constructed case with one handle, foam insert, and sound amplification.
  • Price - $59.00
  • Colors - Silver only (as far as I know)
  • Population - Children with special needs
  • Pros - Sleek design, fits device snugly, lightweight, portable, and non-skid pads
  • Cons - iPad must be secured in the case with screws, which limits the ability to easily move the iPad in and out of the case.
GoNow case
The GoNow case has an attractive, sleek design. External controls on the iPad are easily accessible with it inside the case. The GoNow case can easily fit into a bag or backpack for portability. It is made of lightweight plastic with a foam pad on the inside to act as a shock absorber. While Attainment Company, Inc. says in their promotional literature that the case “will help protect your iPad, it is not guaranteed to prevent damage.” I found from my use that the iPad seemed adequately protected, though not as well-protected as with cases made of EVA foam that I have used.

The GoNow case has a few unique features that may be appealing for some clientele. There’s an acoustic sound channel built into the case to amplify the sound of the iPad without using batteries. For a practitioner working in a noisy environment, this is a great feature. In my trials with the device, I noticed the amplified sound mostly when the iPad was at maximum volume. The difference in loudness seemed minimal when using the iPad in the case at 50% volume. The case also features a magnetic lock/unlock switch which allows the user to bypass the unlock screen on the device. While this is a useful feature, I had an issue with the magnet coming loose from the case when I removed the iPad. The switch could also pose a problem for students with sensory issues who may play with it. The case has a handle to help when transporting the device either in a classroom or from class to class, and non-skid pads which help the case to stay in place while in use. Additionally, there’s at least one hole for attaching a lanyard to the case if a student needs the case anchored around his/her neck.

For me, the GoNow case had one major drawback. I was really hoping that I could just slide the iPad in the case. In reading the product information, I saw that a small Phillips screwdriver is necessary to insert the iPad. This is unfortunate. I wish there was a way that I could quickly and easily put the iPad in the case without any tools. As a professional on-the-go who regularly needs to remove the iPad in order to use it with children requiring various solutions, the GoNow case poses some difficulty. In my opinion, the GoNow case is more useful for children - especially children with special needs who don’t need to remove the iPad from the protective case.

Overall, the GoNow case has some nice features that could work successfully for children with special needs. Unfortunately, it has limited use for me since I need to be able to easily move my iPad in and out of different cases when using a variety of products to work with children.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary case from Attainment Company, Inc.

5 ways to use Apple voice dictation

blogEntryThumbnailAs I've had access to voice dictation on my Apple MacBook Pro and iPhone for the last year or so, I have been using it more and more to increase productivity (as long as it’s working properly). I use voice dictation several times each day for leisure and professional purposes. Here are 5 ways that I use voice dictation on the MacBook Pro and iPhone:

1. Composing multi-paragraph documents

Since it can be difficult for me at times to begin writing a multi-paragraph document, voice dictation gets me started and keeps me going when writing blog posts, reports and proposals. I just have to remember to dictate formatting (e.g., “new line,” “new paragraph”) and punctuation statements (e.g., “comma,” “period,” “question mark”), then proofread the document carefully for dictation errors. Otherwise, the document appears as a poorly formatted written composition with typos.

It’s also important to note that voice dictation can only convert a limited amount of speech (approximately 30s) to text. It takes some time to feel comfortable with continually activating voice dictation after each chunk of text is converted. Just remain patient and you will soon see how composing sentences and paragraphs via voice is significantly faster than typing.

2. Brainstorming and reminding

When I have a thought that I don’t want to forget, I use voice dictation to brainstorm ideas and set reminders. Whether I have a good idea for an app feature, or I need to remember to take out the trash, voice dictation enables me to do either quickly. The efficiency is great because I’m typically in the middle of doing something else.

3. Calendaring events

Using Siri (the intelligent iOS assistant), I can quickly and easily schedule an event such as a staff meeting. For example, I can activate Siri and say, “Schedule a staff meeting for Tuesday, April 9th at 2 PM.” Then, all I need to do is confirm the event and configure additional options such as an alert.

4. Finding contact information for businesses

If I’m somewhere unfamiliar, I can use Siri to help me find a business. For example, if I’m on a work trip and I want to go out for food, I use Siri to ask, “Where are nearby restaurants?” The results provide nearby restaurant information with hours, a map, and reviews from Yelp to help me find quality food.

5. Texting and emailing

Texting is very easy with voice dictation, especially since abbreviations are acceptable input and punctuation is rarely necessary. Emailing with voice dictation has a slightly higher learning curve, but it’s not impossible. Similar to writing multi-paragraph documents, it’s important to use dictation commands for formatting and punctuation. Additionally, it may seem a little strange at first to dictate emails when others are around, but it soon feels similar to talking on the phone in public.

Gripcase review

blogEntryThumbnailRecently, I received an iPad mini case and stand from Gripcase USA. Below is information and a review of each product:

  • Description - Lightweight, foam constructed case with four handles that are soft and bendable.
    Price - $34.99
    Colors - Black, red, blue, purple, green
    Population - Children (with special needs), but could be expanded to more populations.
    Pros - Durable construction, sleek design, fits device snugly, lightweight
    Cons - Handles could be sturdier, but Gripcase suggests that the case bends without breaking.
small case

From my experience in using the Gripcase USA case, it appears to be very durable and well-designed. It is constructed of a lightweight, soft, bendable EVA foam that is shock absorbent, non-abrasive, and bacteria resistant. I physically dropped the case with the iPad mini inside on both hard and carpeted surfaces. The result was a bouncing effect in which the case bounced on the rounded corners before landing flat on the ground; the iPad mini remained fully intact and unaffected. This is an important consideration for any product used with children and this case seems to pass the test. The lightweight, sleek design also makes the case easy to store in a child’s backpack without adding extra bulk.

Gripcase USA ensures, through construction and manufacturing, that the case is highly durable if soiled, placed in the sun or in the event bacteria forms on the apparatus. The bacteria resistant, washable material is definitely an advantage when working with children and adults with special needs, especially, if multiple individuals are using the device. Plus, the spongy construction may provide sensory stimulation for some users.

  • Description - Lightweight, hard plastic stand compatible with iPad and iPad mini Gripcase.
    Price - $19.99
    Colors - Black only
    Population - Professionals, parents, and children (with special needs)
    Pros - Durable construction, versatile design, compact size, and non-abrasive on surfaces
    Cons - Stand could benefit from suction cups to hold it in place on a surface. A locking mechanism for holding the case in place on the stand would also be a nice feature.
small stand

Upon testing the stand, I found it to be a great addition to the case. The stand is very lightweight and non-abrasive, so it can be moved around without fear of scratching any surface. The stand is very versatile as it can easily hold an iPad mini (in portrait or landscape orientation) or iPhone/iPod touch (in portrait orientation). In my experience with the product, the iPhone did not fall out of the stand. While the iPad mini was also very secure in the stand when it was stationary, I think a great additional feature would be a locking mechanism on the stand to hold the iPad mini in place. The stand is beneficial when you want to prop up the iPad in the event it cannot be held or during instruction when you want to be hands free.

All in all, I was very pleased with the use of both the Gripcase USA case and stand, and I would highly recommend the products, especially if you are a practitioner working with children with special needs or a parent of a child with special needs.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary case and stand from Gripcase USA.

Communication board for a party

blogEntryThumbnailAt the transition center, we had a party before spring break. In order to provide an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) support for the nonverbal students, I created a party communication board using the Go Talk Now app for iPad. I used the communication board on an iPad, and I printed it out for staff and parents to use.

You’ll see below that the party communication board has 9 buttons comprising pronouns, verbs, comments, and requests. It also has core vocabulary buttons for greetings (e.g., Hi, How are you, Bye) via the exclamation point button. Consequently, the communication board is an AAC support for communicating a variety of language structures beyond simple labeling of objects like food.

Party communication board