Your Camera as Assistive Technology

Updated: Aug 13, 2019



As much as my life these days is Google-based, the fact is that some kids will need tablets despite their schools having Chromebooks around every corner. In our Tech Tips Series, we'll look at some benefits to tablet technology and some common tasks that iPads, iPods, and iPhones are needed for. Today we'll focus on using the built-in camera as assistive technology.


One of the best features of smartphone and tablet technologies is the built-in camera. We all journal memories, events, and accomplishments through our photographs but these can also prove to be crucial conversation-starters for students! In our Digital Storytelling blog post, we talked about facilitating the writing process with third-party iOS apps that turn pictures into narrated or typed stories that students can share. If you're not that tech-savvy yet, we'll gradually get you there and build your iTech confidence with some basics!

Here are our Top 5 ideas to get your camera lens focused with a purpose:

1. Photograph step-by-step activities to help your child sequence and multi-step directions or daily routines like getting dressed, brushing teeth, or setting the dinner table. You could also take pictures of common people or places to ease transitions between daily events. Visits to the grocery store? the dentist? or even just to/from school? A visually-supported transition may set your child up for a successful transition!

2. Photos of preferred toys or activities in the camera roll can help your student/child communicate wants/needs if they don't have or can't access the language to communicate in the moment. Organize these pictures into a separate folder for easy access to support communication and behavior. You don't need a complex AAC (Communication) program to support your child's expressive language!

3. Create a photo folder of "facial expressions" - recruit friends and family to give their funny, frustrated, or angry face and capture it to reinforce social skills. We all have selfies on our iPhones! Why not use them in another way? If you're feeling brave, use your video camera to act out non-verbal communication that may be challenging for your child to interpret in real-time.

4. If your child has a 'school iPad' that travels home, consider including a photo into your Daily Update. Having a visual will prompt more than a "nothing" response when you ask the age-old question: "What did you do at school today?" Ultimately, the goal is to have a conversation with your child but for some kids, just reporting with a sentence about their art project of the day is empowering.

5. Turn on your video camera AND your acting skills! Research has shown that video modeling is a very powerful tool to teach social skills, routines, and expectations. Think about something your child is learning and see how you can model the skill for them and teach it in a new way!

If you're feeling comfortable moving your pictures out of your camera roll and into skill-specific apps, there are many to choose from! Research video modeling, talking pictures, visual schedules, and social skills or emotions. Follow us on Pinterest @adaptlearn for more Apple Tech ideas.

#occupationaltherapy #accessibility #specialeducation #assistivetechnology