California charity saves money & improves communication by giving iPads to the disabled

February 5, 2013

The charity took the first steps to deploying iPads back in 2011 when it applied and subsequently received a $40,000 state grant from the California Communications Access Foundation so it could buy assistive communication technology for cerebral suffers at the center.

The initial premise of the project was that the money would go towards a specific communication system, namely the $8,000 DynaVox machine, essentially an oversized tablet that allows users to press letters and images to create words or phrases.

However, rather than go down that route, the UCP charity thought different and instead invested in eight iPads, an interactive whiteboard (from SmartBoard) and two “touch-to-talk” tablets that also assist those with difficulties communicating.

“This just opens up a whole lot of possibilities," said UCP CEO Scott Webb, when talking to The Modesto Bee. "It has opened up people with disabilities to a whole new world."

The center explains that it has as a result been using the iPad with specialized apps on the App Store for the disabled to communicate with each other.

"All of the clients have really reacted well to the iPads and want to use them," said UCP communications officer Mario Supnet.

"And they are more flexible. They can play games and use other apps to develop other skills. It's great for people from very low to high functioning."

Six of the iPads are being used at UCP’s center in Modesto, while another two can be found at its location in Turlock. Both centers serve roughly 60 individuals, with the latter only opened towards the end of last year.

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