Styluses for Dexterity Challenges with Touch Screen Tablet Use

Tablet and Stylus image

A inquiry from a blog reader requested suggestions for a stylus that would help with challenges with dexterity causing problems grasping writing tools. While standard grippers are currently available, additional research was needed to check current options of styluses. My search reminded me of the different options of styluses available for mobile devices:

  • Passive Styluses – these are standard, non-electronic styluses and can be capacitive (iOS) or pressure sensitive (Android)
  • Active Styluses require connection and charging linking the device and the pen for additional electronic functions to write on the surface of a tablet (e.g. Apple Pencil, other active pens).  Requiring charging with use.

Passive Stylus Suggestions

For simplicity, passive styluses were researched to identify possible solutions for an individual with dexterity challenges. In the advent of the many active styluses now available, the “The Best Styluses for 2019” from The toptenselect.com website  was one of a few that offered a current review of passive styluses. It was interesting to find a few of my favorite standard styluses previously reviewed still listed among the top 10:

  • Cosmonaut Stylus – this is a chunky stylus with a large rubber tip. It has a large shaft and is quite sensitive. Sells for 24.99 on Amazon. This can be used with an iOS or Android touch screen.

  • TruGlide Stylus by Lynktec – this has a standard pen-like shaft with a mesh tip. I have a strong preference for styluses with mesh tips which I find have better connectivity and consistency with drawing/writing lines (connection) from different angles on a tablet. Sells for $9.99 on Amazon. Adding a gripper to this stylus is possible for ease of grasp. See gripper suggestions below. This can be used with an iOS or Android tablet and may offer replaceable tips.

  • Adonit Mini Stylus – this stylus uses a disc tip for precise contact with a touch screen. Sells for $12.92 on Amazon. For a precise input method, this mini stylus is a great price and writing control on a tablet.

Other options not listed in the Top 10 Select Review, but which I have used which may aid gripping a stylus are listed below:

  • Elago stylus – this stylus has a slightly larger, triangular shaft for better gripping. The tip on the Elago stylus is rubber, which is replaceable if damaged. Sells for $13.99 on Amazon.

  • The Pencil Grip Ergo Stylus – This stylus offers an integrated, large ergonomic grasp. The stylus has a rubber tip although is not replaceable.  Although comfortable to grasp, this stylus is a bit heavier than most styluses. Sells for $14.01 plus shipping on Amazon.

Other Stylus/Active Stylus Options:

The Apple Pencil, while an electronic pencil and compatible with iOS only, is also an option as an exceptional writing tool. It is unmatched in its precision and responsiveness in my opinion and significantly more expensive.   It’s shaft is narrow and may be difficult to grasp if strength and finger dexterity is a challenge. It is  however for individuals who use their iDevice for handwriting, drawing and precise selection highly recommended. The Apple Pencil now comes in two versions, Apple Pencil (1st generation) for iPad Pro, 9.7, 11.5 and 12.9 (1st, 2nd generation) and Apple Pencil (2nd generation) for iPad Pro 11 and 12.9 (3rd generation).   While expensive (94.88 and 129.00 for 2nd generation), for individuals who write extensive notes on their iDevice(s), draw or prefer a precision tip to select on a iOS tablet, it is highly recommended.

Grasps are also available for the Apple Pencil improving the comfort of holding and manipulating or writing with it (see below). Grippers are available only for Apple Pencil pending whether it is a 1st or 2nd generation:

  • Finite Silicone Grip Holder – offers two different ergonomic grippers for the Apple Pencil ( Apple Pencil 1st generation). Sells for $7.99 for 2-pieces.
  • UPPERCASE Nimble grip for Apple Pencil 2 – A hexagonal ergonomic gripper for the Apple Pencil 2. Note that Apple Pencil can not be charged with the gripper applied. A variety of colors are available.

Other Gripper Options:

Other standard grippers can also be used on styluses. I trialed these options on most of the passive styluses above and they do not interfere with the capacitive connection when applied. Here are some typical pencil or tool grippers offered in a variety of sizes and shapes that might be considered for use with standard styluses:

  • Egg Pencil Grip – While very big, clients with arthritis find these grippers helpful on pens, pencils or styluses. They foam and very light weight. Cost is under $10-20 for pack of 3-6.
  • The Pencil Grip Assortment Pack – A variety of styles of grippers for pencils/pens can also be used on some styluses depending on the size of the shaft. This pack of grippers is low cost and offers a variety of sized grasps. These grippers can also be purchased in small quantities in each style. Cost is under $10.00 on Amazon.

  • Foam tubing (grips) foam tubing is a standard for building grasps of handles of tools or implements for individuals with strength or dexterity challenges. The foam tubing comes with different sized diameters pending the tool shaft and can easily be cut to any length. Cost is under $10.00 for a pack of 6 on Amazon. Tubing can be found in a variety of different sizes.

Conclusion:

A variety of stylus options and grippers are available for individuals with dexterity challenges. Along with the choice of the stylus and gripper, it is important when using a stylus to make sure it is compatible with the type of electronic device you are using. Generic grippers for tools and writing implements can be applied to many styluses to improve grasp and comfort. If you have more questions, consult with an OT for suggestions.

What has been your experience, do you have any other recommendations for styluses for individuals with dexterity challenges?

More for your OT eTool Kit!

Carol- OT’s with Apps & Technology

About Carol Leynse Harpold, MS, AdEd, OTR/L, ATP

OTR/L with 30 years experience in pediatrics, school based therapy and adult rehabilitation. Masters of Science in Adaptive Education/Assistive Technology with 15 years experience in AT in education of elementary, middle school, secondary and post secondary students. Experience with adults with disabilities in employment and work transition.
This entry was posted in Accessibility, Activities of Daily Living, Android, Assistive Technology, AT for Handwriting, Drawing, Ergonomics, Handwriting, iPad, Mobility Impairment, Note Taking, Occupational Therapy, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

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