The last post featured commercially available adapted styluses available on the market for purchase. Here are some suggestions on methods of adapting styluses for individuals with physical challenges. Perhaps not always the prettiest, but when funds or availability is limited, sometimes you create.
When adapting styluses, remember that iPads require some conductivity of a users touch (yes, your electricity) for it to activate. What that means for styluses used on iPads (iPhones or iPod Touch) is that you may need to make sure you have connection from your hands electricity to the stylus. Below you will find foil tape used as a conductor when needed. Android devices use resistance for activation, requiring pressure for activation, thus the tape is not needed. Also, of course positioning of the device and the individual may be key factors to activation along with the type of stylus used.
1. Use magic gloves and cut the tip of their preferred pointer finger. Gloves covering other fingers will limit activation of other parts of the screen for iOS devices (which require physical connectivity to activate).
2. For individuals who have difficulty with isolating fingers when donning gloves , try a child’s sock with a hole cut out for a finger.
3. A practice golf ball and mini stylus makes a cheap and easy, adapted stylus.
4. Adapted styluses with large bulb handles can be made with a few materials. You will find instructions for making this stylus here:
5. Sugru, a modeling material that is very sturdy, can help with applying handles and grips on styluses as needed. Here is one created for a client – it was preferred by her over all other styluses trialed. Sugru is available in different colors. A very handy material.
6. Adding a griper to styluses can also work. If adding a griper is not working, make sure you have some part of your hand or fingers connecting to the stylus. The Pencil Grip or Egg Ohs! are just a couple of options to assist with developing or maintaining a grip on a stylus.
7. Adele, OT shared a adapted finger stylus created by the OT’s at the spine unit at GF Strong Rehab Centre:
“Some of the OTs I work with make a finger tip stylus (similar to a thimble) out of splinting material. They mold a short 2inch stylus into the splint. The stylus can be slid in/out of the splint for replacement. This stylus works well for clients who have the strength/movement of their finger to activate a touch screen, but do not have the fine motor control to keep their other fingers from accidentally touching the screen.”
8. Not particularly esthetic, but for a quick demonstration and trial this worked. Using a slip on typing / keyboard aid (below picture ; comes in different sizes and left or right), a stylus taped to the typing aid with foil tape for connectivity (used for furnaces; inexpensively available at hardware stores) created an adaptive method of input to the iPad. I found I needed to apply the foil tape to areas where my fingers touched the aid and also at the palm area for better conduction if using with the iPad. For resistive tablets, such as my Galaxy Tab, I could tape (standard) or glue, or use Velcro to attach the stylus to the typing aid (no need for foil tape for conductivity).
Typing aid used with the tip removed:
First check out how your stylus activates, can it activate when holding at an angle, does the tip need to be directly down for activation? Since not all styluses are created equal, you might have to choose the right stylus for your student / clients needs to make sure it will activate depending on the direction and part of the stylus tip that is used. A heat gun used with the material of this typing aid could also modify the angle as needed.
Here’s my rather un – esthetic – but workable stylus adaptation (with a bit more time it could definitely look better…)
9. Another wonderful resource for AT solutions is Therese Willkomm’s book , “Assistive Technology Solutions in Minutes Book II” . Choked full of helpful resources and solutions for AT devices, self-care, adaptations and so much more, her book provides solutions with ordinary items. I have learned from her resources that industrial twist ties ( 17″) can provide a quick solution for grasps and handles. Here is one of Therese Willkomm’s stylus solutions¹:
¹ Retrieved on 3/15/15 from: http://www.iod.unh.edu/ASI%202012/Strand%20E/E1_iPAD_201_Accessories_Adaptations_and_Resources.pdf
Therese Willkomm, Director of Assistive Technology of New Hampshire is truly a MacGyver of adaptive devices! If you are interested in more information on her adaptations check out her books, her YouTube Channel video instructions (consider subscribing), and the ATinNH website. You won’t be disappointed (she is amazing!!).
What adaptations have you found helpful?