The follow up from this was one offer to “sponsor” an iPhone – that’s right someone emailed the TV station and asked if they could buy a phone for someone with autism. (what a darling!)
There were several requests for more information regarding different disabilities like acquired brain injury and a follow up story on the news that evening which they came out to the house to film with the kids.
We have also had a good few emails and reviews requesting more information. So I will try to summarise the answers here:
1. How much is the App and where do I get it?
The app is €30 on the iTunes store (about US$35 in the states or A $45 according to my little sister in Australia) Like any app you can download it once and install it on up to 5 devices sync’d to the one account.
If you have an iPhone, iTouch or iPad you will have an iTunes account.
That is where the “app store” is – online.
2. How much is an iPhone and how do I get started?
This obviously depends on your mobile phone store and what package they can put together for you.
But note: you can also put the app on an iTouch and just use another device to take, save and load the photographs.
It will run just as well on the older iPhones like the 2G, 3G and the 8G that came out 2 years ago.
Keep this in mind as you may have a friend or business associate who is due an upgrade on their iPhone – they can get the new 3Gs and pass on the old handset to you or your school.
They are simple to restore; deleting the previous users personal settings and to load with the App.
Please, get in touch* if you need help or have a phone you want to donate!
3. Why is the Picture vocabulary on the App so Simple/Complex?
Firstly – We had to create a unique set of pictures for the app in order to list it on iTunes. We commissioned a local graphic artist called Mary Moroney to do the drawings from my sketches; which I edited and labeled using the online software package at picnik.com
These were tested on Gracie – and if she labeled them correctly we went ahead and used the pic. And if she called it something else, I went back to Mary to try again.
The pictures chosen were the absolute minimum required to create good sentences without the need for much scrolling or searching. There are much more complex apps for people with a sophisticated vocabulary out there already so we didn’t need to go there.
I was also determined that the app would work in real time on the simplest and oldest devices – without any delay. So you press it and it appears. This was to make it as accessible as possible for people who might have an older phone or for first time users.
I tried a good few apps out during testing and found that I wanted to throw them down the stairs with impatience at waiting for my selection to appear – let alone a child with autism or ADD.
After the first round of testing I was asked both to add vocabulary and strip it back further.
I added some schedules for use by Carers under duress – I feel very strongly that this app belongs to the User. – it’s their voice so I still think you should be using a different handset to tell them what to do.
Extra vocabulary that is particular to the user can of course be added instantly using the + option on the top right corner, either by taking a photograph or using a saved photo from this or another device.
If you have taken photos – you can re-take or edit them yourself on Picnik.com and then save them to an album specific to the user.
On my phone I have also added in google images of favourite tv-show characters that my Gracie likes. All these are stored on the “photo” button on the app itself, and backed up in the camera album.
4. When I save photos they are all mixed up together in the “photo” button on the bottom right corner of the app. Why can’t I sort these into categories?
When we were testing the prototype of the phone I was meticulous in creating categories like a picture exchange “page” which I prompted Gracie to use.
As a Picture Communicator she is a very speedy visual scanner and always went straight to the main picture album to scroll through hundreds of images to get what she wanted.
During the testing phase another little girl was exactly the same. And she took 3000 photos!
Yes, we will be updating the app to include a sorting option when Apple creates the software (coming soon; with iPad I believe) – but no, you probably won’t need to bother doing this for anyone other than yourself.
5. I like the app but find the pictures too small for my child or clients to manipulate – is there a way of enlarging them?
So the user has to have some competency around the iPhone or iTouch inorder to make independent selections.
But from the very beginning of my discussions with Steve the iPhone Wizard Developer– he had it in mind for this:
I think that is enough for now. If you need more information please don’t hesitate to email me on the work mail or here at * hammiesaysATgmailDOTcom.
And please also consider -even if you have nothing to do with Autism, you might be able to help a child/family or school for autistic children by donating your older model phone, when you’re due an upgrade. Just email me if this appeals. I can sort it out and see it goes to a local group near you.