Typing on the iPad Pro 12.9 with SuperKeys App – Access for Individuals with Mobility Impairment 

The iPad Pro’s large 12.9″ now provides additional accessibility for individuals with motor and visual impairments previously a struggle for those who may have difficulty with multiple finger touch or using assistive touch features. A recent client, presenting speech, motor and visual impairment, was interested in communicating with family and friends using email and Facebook. With strong reading and writing skills, the need to view print and access keys of a computer or mobile device was the challenge.  Voice recognitiion was not found to be an option. Already familiar with the iPad for games, a larger, 12.9″ iPad appeared to be the best choice as a device with a small footprint, available apps for social communication and accessibility features. Available in 32 GB, 128 and 256 GB RAM, the iPad Pro 12.9″ 32 GB sells for approximately $685.00 (USD) at Amazon for the 32 GB Wi-Fi model. If you are looking for a bargain, refurbished iPad Pro 12.9″ 32 GB are available for approximately $599.00 (USD) again at Amazon. 

Functionally the client was able to use his left pointer finger with deliberate movement but required a large target and controls to his left side. Screen contents required enlargement on a slant surface for his visual needs. Although he was deliberate in the use of his left hand/finger, speed and coordination was reduced. The client had a lap tray for his wheelchair but which offers limited space. The 12.9″ iPad Pro in a Targus Versavu case providing a easeled or slant surface with the Home button positioned to his left preferred hand for ease of operation.  

Trial of the use of different input methods found SuperKeys keyboard app (iOS; 14.99) provided direct access to support his motor and visual needs. SuperKeys app, a third party keyboard developed by Crick, is an iOS QWERTY keyboard with 5 main cluster key areas. Once tapped a cluster key area is tapped it provides enlarged keys of the cluster (see below images). This provides a larger key allowing easy access for individuals with motor control challenges. Applying this iOS third party keyboard and turning off repeat rate provided the client the ability to access the tablets keyboard and type. SuperKeys keyboard app provides the following features:

 Word prediction is also provided within SuperKeys app to reduce keystrokes. Another rate enhancement feature of SuperKeys app allows phrases to be added as shortcuts. Phrases as “how are you doing?”, “hope to hear from you soon”, “see you soon” was added as quick social messages that could be added with just a few keystrokes. 

Although typing was slow, it was possible for the client to create messages and view contents of the iPad, social media (Facebook) and email menus, text, app icons and tools with Zoom set to the highest setting possible on the iPad 12.9″. Using the iPad Pro 12.9″ , the adaptive keyboard app SuperKeys and accessibility options allowed the client the ability to communicate with family and friends. 

My recent purchase of an iPad Pro 12.9″ (refurbished) for under $600.00 has been positive, exploring how it can help individuals with mobility and vision impairment. As for this particular client, the iPad Pro 12.9″ provided a great solution as a written communication tool. And of course there is a new iPad Pro 12.9 that has a faster processor, better camera and all the new features of OS 11. For now I will be happy with my refurbished iPad Pro 12.9″ and explore its use with other clients serviced. 

What has been your experience with the iPad Pro 12.9″ or with adaptive keyboards?

More for your OT eTool Kit!


About Carol Leynse Harpold, MS, OTR/L, SCLV, ATP, CATIS

OTR/L with more than 35 years experience in pediatrics, school based therapy and adult rehabilitation. Masters of Science in Adaptive Education/Assistive Technology with 20 years experience in AT in education of elementary, middle school, secondary, post secondary students and work environments for adult clients. A RESNA Assistive Technology Practitioner with ACVREP CATIS credentials, AOTA Specialty Certification in Low Vision, USC Davis Executive Certificate in Home Modifications, servicing adults and students with disabilities in employment, education, and home environments. A 2020 graduate of the University of Alabama Birmingham Low Vision Certification Program.
This entry was posted in Accessories, Apps for Special Needs, Assistive Technology, iOS, iPad, Keyboard, Mobility Impairment, Occupational Therapy, Third Party Keyboards, Uncategorized, Visual Impairment and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Typing on the iPad Pro 12.9 with SuperKeys App – Access for Individuals with Mobility Impairment 

  1. Dana Cappel says:

    I love the idea of this app. We create similar templates for our Grid keyboards on Windows and it’s great to see something for iOS.

    Another keyboard we love is IssieBoard. Have you heard of it?
    It is a customizable iOS keyboard that allows the user to play with visual features of the keyboard. The user can change the color of the keyboard background, keys and text, can create different sections or rowa, and can color specifc or special keys separately from the rset of the keyboard. An especially unique feature is the ability to remove letter keys so only the letters you wish the child to focus on are visible.
    Here is a link to our blog, to read more.

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