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Using the iPad® as a Dedicated SGD

Angela Sterling-Orth, MS, CCC-SLP

February 13, 2017



What are some of the considerations for using an iPad® as a speech generating device (SGD)?


A dedicated SGD focuses mainly on intelligibility rather than comprehensibility. Using an iPad as a dedicated SGD can certainly help a person to be better understood.  Many of the pros and cons of an iPad as an SGD are the same pros and cons of other SGDs.  However, there are a few advantages and disadvantages specific to using an iPad as a dedicated SGD that are worth noting.  The accessibility feature is very appealing to many people.  It is very familiar to a lot of individuals and is not threatening.  An iPad is something that people feel empowered to pick up and use. They can go to the store and buy one themselves.  That advantage can make it a better choice as a dedicated SGD and should be considered during the assessment process with clients. 

In terms of disadvantages, a powerful one relates to the idea of device confusion.  Is it too much of a cognitive challenge or a pragmatic complication for a person with complex communication needs to have a device (i.e., iPad) that is used for their voice output as well as how they get their news, read books or watch videos?  Since the iPad can do all of those things, does that create device confusion?  This also needs to be taken into consideration when conducting an assessment for SGDs. 

Please refer to the SpeechPathology.com course, iPad® Opportunities and AAC for more in-depth information about obstacles and opportunities that occur when using the iPad to augment communication.

angela sterling orth

Angela Sterling-Orth, MS, CCC-SLP

Ms. Angie Sterling-Orth, Director of Clinical Education and Clinical Associate Professor, earned both her bachelor's and master's degrees in Communication Disorders from UW-Eau Claire. She spent her first years in the field working in the Wisconsin public schools, specializing in work with early childhood, early-elementary, and middle school populations. Following her years in the schools, Ms. Sterling-Orth spent four years in product development at Thinking Publications, a publishing company specializing in products designed for speech-language pathologists. She has spent the past 14 years at UW-Eau Claire supervising in the clinic, teaching graduate level coursework (grad essentials and school methods), and undergraduate coursework in language disorders, aural rehabilitation, and fluency disorders. She specializes in serving individuals who stutter, school-based SLP services, and using innovative technologies for instruction and service delivery.

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