Apple (new window) has a well-deserved reputation for offering universally designed products that come packed with accessibility features right out of the box. The iPad is a great example of this, and since its launch in 2010, the iPad has dominated the tablet market by creating easy-to-use and accessible products that range in application from casual use in one’s home to a more fast-paced, professional environment.
The newest iteration of the iPad, the iPad Pro, caters more to professional use, offering a larger, more powerful device that is supported by the accessory that we are going to be focusing on today: The Apple Pencil (new window).
To put it simply, the Apple Pencil is a stylus. However, the Apple Pencil is not your run-of-the-mill stylus. In fact, the Apple Pencil currently retails for about $120 Canadian, and represents a new evolution in Stylus technology. The Apple pencil is especially sensitive to pressure and tilt, allowing users to write and draw with even more precision than with an entry-level stylus. Charging the device is easy, as users simply pull off the cap and plug the device directly into your iPad. And because the device connects via Bluetooth, users will not have to worry about any Wi-Fi related connection issues.
Let’s talk a bit more specifically about the various ways in which the Apple Pencil can be used as AT:
Because the Apple Pencil is so sensitive and precise, it’s a great tool for taking down notes in class or on the job, especially when paired with note-taking apps such as Evernote or Notability, which support handwritten notes and annotations in their app. In fact, the apple pencil integrates with all iOS apps (including all Microsoft apps such as Word or OneNote) so compatibility will never be an issue. And for those individuals who simply prefer handwriting to typing, or whose disabilities might prevent them from effectively using a virtual or physical keyboard, the Apple Pencil is a great alternative.
The Apple Pencil is also great at annotating or “marking-up” documents, emails, pictures, etc. A major advantage to this approach is that annotating documents with your Apple Pencil is less restrictive than other methods of annotating or editing documents as “editors” have a lot more options in how they choose to mark-up documents. Many users might find this approach to be more straightforward and less restrictive than the traditional approach to annotation, which could be especially helpful for those AT users who aren’t so “tech-savvy”.
Offers multiple means of expression
Hitting on one of the main principles of Universal Design for Learning, the Apple Pencil / iPad Pro Combo offers AT users multiple means of expression by allowing them to choose between using a keyboard or “pencil” to write with, which can also be helpful when users start to feel fatigued by extensive note-taking and want to give their typing a rest, but might still want to keep taking notes.
Note: The Apple Pencil is designed exclusively for the iPad Pro and will not function with any other versions of the iPad, or any other iOS device.