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iPad – Truly Mobile or Just Portable?

After an iPad was donated by an anonymous benefactor to our “I Want my iPhone for Autism” fund – I knew I had to find a way to protect it in order to use it to demonstrate Grace App to Autistic and other Special Needs kids. (as requested by the donor).

iPad Truly mobile or just PortableThe first test involved being bitten – then caught before it could be flung. So I knew that the pink padded storage case was a non-runner.

iPad with pink caseNext I tried these rubber covers, within the Hard Candy Pink cover.

iPad book casesThen one of the little book style covers that you make into a stand. It makes the iPad less slippy, protects against bangs and knocks. But not really mobile.

otterbox caseThen after I reviewed the Otterbox Defender for iPod Touch, my Mentor tweeted me to suggest I ask Otterbox about a cover for iPad. So I did, and the lovely Rhona Cashman from Otterbox’s Cork Office sent me this and some other covers – For Free!

Otterbox Case for iPad

It’s a little different from the iPhone and iPod cases. The screen protector is stick on.

iPad Truly mobile or just Portable 5 otterboxBut you get the same hard shell cover, with a thick rubber cover over that. Quite tight fitting, and keep the box because you will need to follow the instructions, but once on it won’t be removed by little fingers (or teeth).

otterbox caseThere is a removable slide to allow you to charge it without taking the whole cover off.

I didn’t want to compromise the construction by adding lanyards, so I made a second cover out of a neoprene bag intended for a 7 inch portable dvd player.

It pulls very tightly over the Otterbox, a firm fit.

And I can undo the zip a little to switch it on or off. To this I had hand sewn a very wide canvas strap. A wide strap is necessary to remove the temptation to twirl.

As you can see I can access the screen and turn it to face whomever I am communicating with.

It is not the prettiest of jobs. A commercial sewing machine or some kind of ready made neoprene case would be better – but it is a solution of some sort to the problem of portability.

But is it really “mobile”?

In the workshops I attended at the World Summit Awards for Mobile Content, they encouraged us to think about the difference – and how our product was genuinely mobile. (or we wouldn’t have won!) From an Autism point of view, it is unethical to implement a system of communication and reward the pupil for using it, – Then take it off them at playtime because you are afraid they might break it.

Having said that – there are many mis-informed Autism Service Providers who only allow kids to use their pecs books at meal times. I have first hand experience of this. It is not recommended. But that is not what Grace App is about. Grace App is about empowering the User to take control of their communication and use it independently.
As and when and WHEREVER they need it. Otherwise we force the user to resort to their previous methods of getting attention – like leading, tantrumming or aggression.

Personally, while I would allow the kids to carry the iPad around in this holder., I would not let them go unsupervised with it. It is just too expensive and precious.

Here is Liam complaining about having his picture taken with the case. He is highly verbal but uses the iPad to “script” on Prolouque2Go.

Since Gracie is primarily an iPhone user and with the Otterbox I let her take it everywhere, with or without supervision – the iPad is only really an “Add on” for us. We need the mobility. But what I want to know is: Are you giving your child independent access to the iPad at all times? – and if so, what cover are you using?

Or are you offering them a back up device for transitioning, like an iPod or their old portable pecs book? Let me know.

6 responses to “iPad – Truly Mobile or Just Portable?”

  1. Niamh says:

    glad that you and otterbox have come up with a solution for the ipad cover. we might be needing 1 for the ipad too. just wondering if you got the ipod cover and try and resolve our problem with lanyards?

  2. Service says:

    We ordered this case to use over our otterbox.
    We are waiting for it to come and think it will be very helpful for us.

  3. Annie Robertson says:

    ipad is now portable and very Cool Mobile.
    Thanks for the Post 🙂
    Covers for iPad

  4. Kat says:

    "From an Autism point of view, it is unethical to implement a system of communication and reward the pupil for using it, – Then take it off them at playtime because you are afraid they might break it."

    This statement just gave me a light bulb moment! I've been putting off purchasing a protective case and rigging Lauren's iPod Touch so that she can carry it with her at all times mainly because I am afraid it would get broken. I ordered a pink Otterbox from Amazon a few days ago, and it's scheduled for delivery today…yay!

    Now I have to get over another issue…I am afraid it will be lost/stolen. I mean, I can handle a missing coat or lunchbox, but her iPod?…I would totally flip.

  5. Hammie aka lisadom says:

    Kat: Gracie is always in supervised environments with very skilled tutors so the issue doesn't come up in Ireland where we live.
    However – I was really aware of it on holiday in Spain when we were in the market place. So I bought a little knitted purse and I attached the iPhone in the Otterbox Defender to the purse strings. When we are on the move I prompt her to "Tidy Up" and put the device in the purse.
    I figure a pick pocket wouldn't bother to steal a kiddy purse at it would only have a few euro at best and no credit cards. But it keeps the iPhone out of sight from anyone watching us.
    We use it year round, not just on holiday.

    Hope that Helps xx

  6. Hammie aka lisadom says:

    Annie and Service: If you want to organise a sample for me to review please email me via the contact tab on the web page. Very happy to try anything. xx

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