Using iPads and Mobile Technology for Children with Developmental Disabilities: Facilitating Language and Literacy Development

Using iPads and Mobile Technology for Children with Developmental Disabilities: Facilitating Language and Literacy Development

Lisa A. Proctor (Missouri State University, USA) and Ye Wang (Teachers College, Columbia University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0034-6.ch012


With increasing access to iPads and mobile technology in both home and school settings, evidence regarding how best to use this technology to enhance language and literacy learning is lacking, particularly for children with developmental disabilities. As a comprehensive review, this chapter discusses the use of iPads and mobile technology in the language and literacy development of this population. It concludes that while iPads and mobile technology provide opportunities for language and literacy development, the inherent challenges and limitations of this technology warrant attention from parents, educators and speech-language pathologists. iPads and mobile technology may be a valuable accelerator for the language and literacy development of children with developmental disabilities if used properly; however, improper or careless usage can become a distraction that further delays the communication development of this population.
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In the brief interval since its introduction, the iPad has had a major impact in many educational and therapeutic situations including communication options for persons with complex communication needs (CCN) (Light & McNaugton, 2012; McNaughton & Light, 2013; RERC on Communication Enhancement, 2011), facilitating language development (Fernandez, 2011a), and literacy instruction for children who are typically developing and for children with disabilities (Beschoner & Hutchinson, 2013). The iPad is of course one of many mobile technologies that provide apps for education and communication. In addition to iPads there are numerous tablets available on the Android operating platform (Higginbotham & Jacobs, 2011) as well as a number of different smartphones that can also be used with apps albeit with a smaller display. However, due to the popularity of the iPad, this chapter focuses on the use of the iPad tablet as well as the iPhone and iPod Touch that were used to introduce many of the apps now used on the iPad. This approach is justifiable since there was much development with Apple-based apps before the introduction of the iPad (Fernandes, 2011b) and the fact that much research examining the use of mobile technologies for AAC has involved the iPod Touch (Achmadi et al., 2012; Kagohara et al., 2013; Kagohara et al., 2010; Kagohara et al., 2012). Additionally, the ideas developed in this chapter are easily adapted to similar devices produced by other manufacturers.

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