PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to consider the accessibility of Apple’s iPad. The discussion focusses on the accessibility of this technology to children and young people with cerebral palsy (CP), reviewing a range of literature. Terms including “inclusion” are debated alongside the practicalities associated with implementing assistive technologies in educational settings. The benefits of technology for those with CP are explored, with examples including augmentative and alternative communication systems. The current suitability of the iPad for children and young people with CP is discussed, alongside ways in which eye-gaze technology may be employed to increase inclusivity.Design/methodology/approachThe paper provides a consideration of multiple methods for evaluating the inclusivity of mainstream technologies. It is contended that the universal design for learning (UDL) principles are likely to be the most appropriate, due to their applicability to educational settings. Furthermore, the UDL principles acknowledge the heterogeneity of those with CP, and this is suggested to be useful due to its ability to be integrated alongside some of the principles of assistive technology.FindingsThe discussion contends that Apple’s iPad may be redesigned in order to meet the needs of users with CP. Eye-gaze technology is suggested as one way to include this group of users, due to the altered interface interaction. Despite some challenges with the eye-gaze technology, the paper suggests that this alteration to the iPad may result in increased accessibility not only for those with CP, but also others with fine motor difficulties. It is concluded that the integration of eye-gaze technology with Apple’s iPad may be a potential avenue for future investigation.Practical implicationsBy altering the interface interaction on Apple’s iPad, the device may be more accessible to users with fine motor difficulties, such as those with CP. It is suggested that the paper may inspire future research concerning the practicalities of integrating eye-gaze technology on a small, portable device.Social implicationsThose who are of lower socioeconomic status are less likely to have access to assistive technologies; the cost of Apple’s devices is relatively higher than those produced by other technology companies, confining their availability to wealthier consumers. This may also lead to a divide in inclusive technical capital (Hayhoe, 2015), whereby wealthier users may have an increased potential to access inclusive assistive technologies and thus increase their capital.Originality/valueThe paper integrates a discussion of the UDL principles with their application to both assistive technologies and educational settings. It is speculated that this paper may be valuable to those researching in the field of assistive technologies, who may build upon the present discussion with a research study. It is also anticipated that the consideration of the use of the iPad for children and young people with CP may be of use to those working in education who wish to integrate technology into the education of those with a range of special educational needs.
Journal of Enabling Technologies – Emerald Publishing
Published: Dec 9, 2019