Points to weigh from Libby Rush & Celeste Helling
Pros of Mobile Tech & Apps
- Easy to obtain;
- Highly portable;
- Relatively low cost;
- Empowers family and consumer;
- Based on mainstream technology and viewed by users as mainstream;
- "Cool" factor;
- Intuitive to use across age and disability;
- Use is considered to be more "peer-like" and "peer accepted;"
- Much more likely to be viewed by AAC users of all ages as acceptable technology rather than traditional AAC devices;
- Young users often attract communication partners because it is considered cool technology;
- Can be very motivating especially with the wide variety of Apps that engage user and support use of the technology;
- One part of "arsenal of assistive technology;"
- Can be used either as a complete or supplemental speech generating device (SGD);
- Useful for a range of assistive needs, from picture schedule systems to GPS tools, minimizing the need for multiple AT items;
- Communication partners readily accept technology & feel comfortable in interacting with the AAC user ;
- Some vendors have attempted to replicate their dedicated SGDs thus offering Apps based on successful language representation system.
Cons of Mobile Tech & Apps
- Limited accessibility;
- Quality control issues;
- "Buyer Beware" purchase;
- Does not meet criteria for funding as durable medical equipment (DME);
- Lack of technical support and training available;
- Multiple functions can be distracting for some users;
- Limited growth potential within individual Apps;
- Generally less customizable than dedicated SGDs;
- Impression that the system is so inexpensive, it is disposable - can lead to poor decision making/ uninformed purchases;
- Purchases made without clinical recommendation or guidance;
- Loss of time in language development or rehabilitation;
- Limited opportunities for "hands on" evaluation of hardware & Apps;
- Even the most competent Apps involve a very high burden for programming and customization;
- When AAC is not successful, begins to lay the foundation for disinterest and feelings of failure;
- Additional Apps can be extremely distracting to many users and interfere with use of device for communication;
- Can lead to abandonment/discontinuance of successful use of SGD by teachers, families or caregivers;
- Use of several different systems without direction can result in confusion and even interfere with development or rehab of language and effective communication strategies;
- Limited research, thus rely on informal investigation and anecdotal reports.
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