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Study Tests iPads as Communication Devices for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

June 2013 — The New Mexico Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (NMCDHH) released the final report on results from their iPad Pilot Project.  The project arose from a recognition of the decreasing number of requests for telecommunications equipment although hearing disabilities as the third fastest growing disability, at the same time as an increased demand for more mainstream and wireless devices. For four month project 25 individuals with disabilities, including deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind and speech disabilities, were given WiFi-only iPads and asked to test the ease of use of the device, as well as specific communication apps and the “feasibility of adding iPad equipment to the existing NMCDHH Telecommunications Equipment Distribution Program.”  The results showed that over four months, users were able to become more comfortable with the device, with most testers using the iPad daily, and more than half of testers recognizing the iPad as their primary communication tool by the end of the testing period. Users also tested specific communications apps including Dragon Dictation, Tap to Talk, Proloquo2go, Skype, and Sorenson, with some users in addition testing emergency notification apps.

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The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Wireless Technologies is sponsored by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under grant number 90RE5007-01-00. The opinions contained in this website are those of the Wireless RERC and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or NIDILRR.