Paths to Literacy

for students who are blind or visually impaired

The iPad & Students with Visual and Multiple Disabilities: Apps for Communication

Faye Gonzalez, TVI & COMS, 3-4-2013

It isstudent using an iPad for communication more and more common for students to receive an iPad as their personal Communication Device.   The most common Communication apps are designed to provide a large vocabulary to non-verbal students.  However, these apps are often challenging for kids who are Visually Impaired and have Multiple Disabilities (VI/MD) to access.  The visual-motor integration and visual discrimination skills are often too challenging for kids who are VI/MD typically to be successful.   While these communication apps are great for many and may be the right ones for some kids who have visual and multiple disabilities, be cautious. This includes apps such as Proloque2Go  and TouchChat HD  There are many apps out there for the iPad that support communication needs and are more commonly applicable to students who are VI/MD – and are more affordable for a teacher to purchase.

TapSpeak Sequence - This app turns your iPad into a sequenced message device (aka Step-by-Step).  The app will play back a series of recorded messages in order.  You can customize the image displayed for each message.   The default background is black; the display is visually very simple. 

iPad communication app - YesNoHDYes No HD  - This app allows you to record speech for two button pairs.  It has a great black background with the ability to change the button colors and use photos or other images.  It is very straightforward and easy to use. 

SoundingBoard - iPad communication app - SoundingBoardThis app allows you to create communication boards in a variety of layouts, from 1 to 9 buttons.  Users can direct select or use a Bluetooth switch scanning interface.  Programming boards include the ability to record messages and use the photo library included, or use your own photos.  This software does allow linking between multiple boards.  Unfortunately the background color, which is a light tan, cannot be changed.  However, it IS a FREE app, with wide-reaching capabilities thanks to the linking and switch scanning features. 

Now, let’s get our kids talking!


Collage with girl using an ipad, and two ipad app icons


Posted on March 4, 2013
Updated on: January 25, 2018

Previous comments for The iPad & Students with Visual and Multiple Disabilities: Apps for Communication

fayegonzalez commented on March 5, 2013

For kids who are having an AAC evaluation and considering an iPad - be sure to have the parents, AC/device specialist, speech therapist, TVI, and any OT or PT work TOGETHER to complete the evaluation.  All these specialists need to have input on what will best meet the child's access, communication, and visual needs.  If the student needs photographs instead of line drawings, make sure that the software the team is considering allows for this.  Try it out - some of them have better screen resolution with photos than others.  There is also software from GoTalk that allows for changing of the screen/button layout and change the background color as well as use photos.  Another key area to check is screen glare, mounting, and positioning for best visual access to the screen - which can get tricky if the child is in a wheelchair.  Anyone else have ideas for software for AAC for kids who are VI/MD?

Megan Mogan commented on March 5, 2013

I'm printing and sending home to a parent who is just starting the iPad process with her child with VI/MD.  Thanks as always for the resources Faye!