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Monday, April 23, 2012

Review: Speak for Yourself Keyguard (from LaseredPics)

*Editor's note: Please see an important addition to this post, found under #2. Attachment,  if you are ordering this keyguard to fit an iAdapter case (iPad1 or iPad2) or the Otterbox Defender case (iPad1)

As a preface, I don't work for Speak for Yourself or for LaseredPics.  This post is solely my opinion.  No one asked me to write this (or paid me for it), but I imagine it could be helpful to others considering the app and/or keyguard, so here you go  . . .

We recently received the new-and-improved keyguard for Maya's app (Speak for Yourself) created by the folks at LaseredPics.biz.  The original keyguard had some major flaws, so I had tried not to get my hopes up for version 2 . . . but, as it turns out, version 2 is pretty darn great.  Before I continue, you should know that the keyguard is available in 7 different versions, to accomodate different cases (or no case at all).  The version that I will be showing and talking about is designed specifically to fit the iAdapter1 case, which is what we have on Maya's iPad.

Here's Maya's iPad with the keyguard on:


See those 2 green lines at the top?  Pretend that they are made of clear plastic instead of drawn in.  Maya got a little frustrated and tried to pull the keyguard off, snapping off two thin plastic bars.  Luckily, they aren't really essential.  Here's what it looks like with the top two bars broken off:


And here's what it looks like with the app turned on and the keyguard in place:



This keyguard was an instant game-changer.  As I've mentioned in the past, Maya has a habit of accidentally hitting buttons by leaning her hand/knuckles against the iPad while she's reaching towards a word with her pointer finger.  She ends up on an unintended screen, and tends to then just pick her favorite word on whatever screen that she's on (we really need to work on hitting the blue home key to return to the main screen).  This results in a totally disjointed conversation, and she often goes through several misfires before getting back to the word she was originally aiming for. 

With the keyguard in place, she has to reach for a word very deliberately.  Accidental hits were all but instantly eliminated.  As you can see in the video below, there was a bit of a learning curve as she figured out the hand-eye coordination needed to get her finger into the targeted hole, but it didn't take long at all (we've had the keyguard for 5 days now and are seeing very few misalignments).


*note about the cereal bar: It's poor AAC form, I think, that I didn't stop to get her the cereal bar right away.  But I know Maya and knew that she was more interested in exploring the talker with the new keyguard than she really was in a snack.  She had a snack when we were done playing with the device.  When we first started using AAC I always stopped immediately and tried to present the requested item, even if the request seemed accidental.


Now that her communication is more deliberate and less accidental, we can really encourage the use of the talker to a greater degree, because it has become a much more real communication tool (as opposed to sometimes a great communication tool and sometimes just a fun way to say words and accidentally bounce through the screens).

Let me tell you about some of the features of the keyguard:

1. Slide-to-unlock opening: When ordering the keyguard you can choose to have the slide-to-unlock bar opened.  This is a great feature.  With this small row opened up Maya is able to turn the iPad on as usual with the keyguard already firmly in place and ready to use. 



2. Attachment: This version of the keyguard attached directly to our case with velcro (the last version that we tried used suction cups, which raised it up too high over our case).  The velcro allows for a nice tight fit (you can tell here, but the keyguard is actually slightly sunken over the screen so that it fits closely).  I cut two piece of velcro for each ledge on either side of the screen. *To get these extended ledges on the side, where I have attached the velcro, you need to order the Case Attachment Option for your case.  That tells them to attach the extra plastic ledges.

Velcro pieces circled in yellow.  I'm awesome at Paint.

Here you can see the black velcro on the sides of the keyguard.


3. Finger openings: LaseredPics has the keyguard available with either "circle" or "square" openings.  You want squares, for sure.  The circle openings were too small, rendering the entire thing useless for me.  Maya would still have been able to use it, but since good AAC use involves modeling and communicating through the device for both parties, the adult partner should be able to use it as well.  (Note: you could use a stylus with it if you have thick fingers, I guess, but since I would definitely lose the stylus I needed to fit my fingers through).

The square openings are big enough for me to fit my entire pinky through, but I can also fit enough of my index finger through to use the device with my index finger.  Dave can't fit any finger all the way through, but he can use his pinky finger to get in far enough to press the buttons. 



The bottom line: This is awesome, and will make is already making a huge difference for us.  We ordered a few back-ups, because I worry that Maya will knock the iPad over and it might crack.  If you decide to order one, trust me, you want square holes, you want to have that slide-to-unlock section open, and if you have an iAdapter case you want the case attachment option.


Side note: Today I added a new tab to the top of the blog, all about the communication/AAC stuff that we've tried along the way.  You can click here to see it.

   

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