Consumer hi-tech hunger relentlessly drives iOS device development (iPad, Mini, and Touch), capriciously spinning the dartboard for writers who try to demystify technology; maddeningly, the bullseye becomes the easiest part of the target to hit with any consistency.
The requisite manoeuvre, then, is to teach x-treme darts to beginners (ie, ‘readers who are not necessarily specialists’ and who provide assistive support). Craig Mill and the CALL Scotland Team meet this challenge with the latest edition of this book. When it comes to User Guides, the relevance of any criticism depends on the author’s intention; for example, this book is not a detailed Settings manual, nor should it be with such material available elsewhere.
The organisation is practical (broadly: hardware, software, apps, accessibility, accessories, further resources, assessment, and management), and coverage is thorough without tedium. Investment advice appears early so that you don’t end up with licenses fragmented across iTunes accounts; similarly, there is an early discussion of device parameters, such as connectivity type, screen resolution, and the like.
iPad/generation/differences, however, are not described in enough detail to help someone using older devices. A third of the volume (sub)categorises and reviews apps (eg, communication, autism, literacy), including accessibility methods. This links to Call Scotland’s lovely app wheels for dyslexia and AAC.
Middle-ground advice/instruction is well done, including the likes of: Guided Access; screenshots; searching for apps; checking for switch accessibility before purchasing (generic versus native); iPhones and hearing aids; and scanning with optical character recognition.
Only three issues were conspicuous in their absence, namely:
- Designing a person’s language (beyond a few choice boards) presents a risk of harm, so amateurs cross ethical and legal boundaries if they develop communication matrices in AAC apps;
- Some apps, such as Siri, process on third-party servers, which can present privacy risks; and
- Agencies (particularly school districts) should not design their systems without policies addressing personally owned computational devices/apps.
That said, given all of the material that CALL Scotland managed to cover, anything else could be forgiven as too fine a grain for this book. An iPad veteran, then, can suppress their ‘but what about…’ reflex and enjoy the book as a resource for training others. Now the authors just need to keep up with the changes.
Craig Mill and the CALL Team – CALL Scotland – ISBN: 9781898042358
Free to download from here or available from the CALL Scotland Shop.
Reviewed by Tracey Mansfield
What a great read! This was well written and thoughtful throughout. I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn more about iPads.