After 18 months, many failed purchases and home sewing attempts, I have finally found a way to make the iPad a genuinely mobile communication device.
Mobile as opposed to just portable.
You see, your average kitchen chair is portable, you can move it from place to place but I don’t think you want to wear it down the street. An iPhone or iPod touch in an Otterbox Defender cover with a lanyard is mobile. It can go everywhere you go (except swimming) so the Communication App you are using to get what you want can go everywhere too. This means that the people around you are going to consistently prompt you to use that App and that consistency promotes independence.
But an iPad? To date I have been unconvinced. Even less convinced when people talk about introducing it as a table top communication device, which gets taken away from the user when that session is over “to keep it safe” !!??!!
My New “purse” ….
No, itś my iPad!
But as you can see my iPad above is safely protected by the new Otterbox Defender III cover; a hard shell case with integral hard screen cover and a rubbery silicone sleeve and mobile thanks to the Chat Bag stretched over it.
You can also stretch the Chat bag over a Griffin Survivor cover which has all the above protective layers, with a slightly thicker rubber sleeve. (believe me, I tried it and it fits)
The Chat bag is like a fitted mattress protector with 3 layers of fabric including a quilted inner layer. They have elastic all around the sides that you stretch out to fit over the iPad and cover, which pulls tightly around the corners and sides; just like a fitted sheet. The shoulder strap has an adjuster thingie, which I knew Liam would open so I stitched that up. And my goodness it is HANDY!
Please Note: I use the Grace App Communication System, where the user presents a sentence to a listener who points, prompts and reads it with them to develop and support independent communication. So the issue of SOUND Output does not arise, OKAY?
There are many colours and patterns all helpfully grouped into age/size and you have the option of substituting the ribbon handles for tougher polypropylene.
Oh and David and Lori by the way, are fellow Special Needs Entrepreneur Parents. They came up with the idea for the bag for their special daughter (as all the best ideas are) and have created an online business. The bags run to US$ 30 plus postage but they have a sale on at the moment where you can get many patterns for just US$24.
And it makes the iPad look cool!
I have a real issue with making special kids stand out as weird with clunky devices or accessories. They have the same right to good haircuts, fashionable clothes, shoes and good design.
In the Chat bag, the iPad is accessible as a communication device if needed or discreetly safe when it is not.
And I genuinely let my 11 stone giant autistic and very active son run around the house with this thing. Well, I try and slow him down when I see him carrying the iPad but you know how it is.
With the Otterbox and the Chat Bag I have finally outsmarted my son, Liam who has a terrible habit of picking at the home button protector and has actually damaged 3 of the previous Otterboxes by tearing the silicone cover.
So the Chatbag is a winner for us.
I’m looking forward to the Mini-chat bag that is coming soon. David and Lori are actually making those to order to suit the different iPod Touch/iPhone Covers. That one will be genuinely used by Gracie as her iPhone is her primary communication device. Watch out for a review soon.
Please note: I have adapted the bag to allow a headphone jack as my kids listen to movies and Youtube clips. I cut a little hole then hand stitched it all the way around to stop it tearing. You do not need to do this for an iPad that is used for a communication device.
I did the same for the charger cord as I do not want Liam pulling the cover off to charge it. I want it fitted tight all the time. Again you do not need to do this if you are using the iPad as a communication device and supervise it for charging etc.