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

Posted in Accessibility, Activities of Daily Living, Android, Assistive Technology, AT for Handwriting, Drawing, Ergonomics, Handwriting, iPad, Mobility Impairment, Note Taking, Occupational Therapy, Writing | Leave a comment

AutoBrush for Kids – A Smart Toothbrush

The Assistive Technology at Easter Seals Crossroads in their weekly AT reviews offers another interesting tool, the AutoBrush for Kids.  As an occupational therapist, tools for self cares are always helpful and learning about new oral hygiene tools always seems to be timely when servicing kids with special needs, whether young or older.

The AutoBrush for Kids is an electric toothbrush that comes in two sizes, one for 3-7 year olds and another for 8 years and up. Brushes lining the inside the mouth piece brush are on both sides which clean the teeth. The mouth piece is placed in mouth and cleans both upper and lower teeth at the same time. Here’s a quick video on the AutoBrush for Kids:

With the purchase of the base unit, replacement mouth brushes can be purchased and both sizes will work with the sam base unit. You have a choice of four animals to choose from. The base charger comes with the AutoBrush for Kids with cost at approximately $89.00 on Amazon. Although the price is a bit steep, it might be worth it for some children when toothbrushing is a challenge due to sensory or motor skills.

Check out this  low tech OT tool for self care, AutoBrush for Kids on Amazon or  via the post AutoBrush for Kids — Assistive Technology at Easter Seals Crossroads

More for your OT Tool Kit!

Carol

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Quha Zona Gyroscopic Mouse — Assistive Technology at Easter Seals Crossroads

Quha Zono head band image

Quha Zono Gyroscope Mouse and Headbands

The Quha Zono Gyroscope Mouse

This gyroscope mouse has a variety of ways it can be mounted or accessed (headband, eyeglass clip, eye wear, on a cap among others. A variety of access methods are also options available to include sip and puff, buttons, virtual keyboard among others. Light weight and easy to connect with plug and play tools.

Check out Easter Seals Crossroads review below, or check out The Quha Zona mouse and access options at Quha.com.

If you or a loved one cannot use a traditional mouse, check out the Quha Zono. The “Quha Zono is the original gyroscopic mouse designed for special needs.” This gyroscopic mouse makes it possible for you to use a computer when you’re unable to use an ordinary mouse with your hands. It translates natural head…

via Quha Zona Gyroscopic Mouse — Assistive Technology at Easter Seals Crossroads

A recent evaluation seeking tools for repetitive stress injury allowed me to check this device out. It was easy to use and connect with its plug and play features. Other tools such as dwell software and management of mouse speed and control were needed with the basic set up.

H/T to Assistive Technology at Easter Seals Crossroads for keeping us updated with their weekly AT curations!

Carol- OT’s with Apps and Technology

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SeeBOOST: Electronic Glasses For Age Related Vision Loss — Assistive Technology Blog

Age related Macular Degeneration and Diabetic Retinopathy are the leading causes of blindness in developed nations, and age related vision loss, such as Coloboma, Macular Degeneration, Diabetic Retinopathy, and Stargardt disease, is an issue for many. 234 more words

via SeeBOOST: Electronic Glasses For Age Related Vision Loss — Assistive Technology Blog

More information on SeeBOOST can be found at: SeeBOOST for central vision loss

H/T to the Assistive Technology Blog for sharing new technology.

Carol – OT’s with Apps and Technology

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AM315 Sidekick – iPad and iPhone mouse adapter — Assistive Technology at Easter Seals Crossroads

Sidekick mouse adapter image

The Sidekick mouse adapter for the iPad is proposed to be available from Able Net this fall 2019. Check out more as shared by Assistive Technology at Easter Seals Crossroads.

315-02-15-19 Sidekick – iPad and iPhone mouse adapter Hey there! Welcome to Accessibility Minute, your weekly look at Assistive Technology, those clever tools and devices designed to help people who have difficulties with vision, mobility, hearing or other special needs! AbleNet is a “world leader in assistive technology, curriculum, and services to help individuals with […]

via AM315 Sidekick – iPad and iPhone mouse adapter — Assistive Technology at Easter Seals Crossroads

Thanks to AT Easter Seals Crossroad for sharing news of assistive tech tools!

Carol – OT’s with Apps and Technology

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Handwriting for Heroes – Learn to Write with Your Non-dominant Hand

Hanwriting for Heroes image

Learn to Write with your Non-dominant Hand in Six Weeks

Loosing hand dominancy after injury or a medical condition is a daunting task after years of developing manipulative skills of one’s preferred hand. A recent assessment of a vocational rehabilitation client in her late twenties who sustained a spinal stroke identified the need for compensatory tools and interventions to overcome barriers due to loss of her preferred hand. With continuing education the vocational goal to retrain her in a profession compatible with her mobility impairment, identifying compensatory tools as well as interventions to support use of her non-dominant hand was required. As a student, producing written communication to support coursework were among the goals identified by the client. In the area of written communication, efficient production of word-processed information as well as hand writing notes were identified client goals.

While several high-tech tools were identified to support access to the computer and written production, handwriting was also a concern for this client. While electronic tools for note taking are readily available, experience with assessing post-secondary students continues to find handwriting the most typical and familiar method of notetaking for students. A survey of students enrolled in Information Science post-secondary program found only 37% used electronic note taking (Fox, 2005) with 63% used hand writing when note taking. In the study, the use of electronic note taking further reduced when drawing figures or numbers were required during note taking (diagramming, math, chemistry, etc.) (Fox, 2005). Identifying compensatory methods of word processing were important for this client as well as low tech tools and interventions for re-training handwriting with her non-dominant hand.

Handwriting for Heroes, a systematic program to learn to write with your non-dominant hand, is a method of instruction for adults who need to “re-learn how to handwrite for individuals sustaining injury and loss of skills in their dominant hand. Written by experienced VA Occupational Therapists working with adults who sustained injuries to their dominant hand, the series of 6 weeks of graded lessons provides practice in development of in hand manipulation skills, visual motor and handwriting practice. Within the sequence of lessons, mindful exercises and positive affirmation embedded in the functional handwriting lessons are also provided to the user. In its 3rd, edition, this user manual provides daily guided practice to regain both cursive and manuscript handwriting skills in the six-week lesson format. For this client being assessed, Handwriting for Heroes seemed to be a great resource given the high interest in learning to handwrite with her non-dominant hand.

Purchase of the Handwriting for Heroes 3rd Edition manual allowed a more thorough review of the program. Over view of the program showed a well-developed manual offering six weeks of lessons and activities with the following writing and fine motor components:

  • Warm-ups (visual motor warm-ups)
  • Practice writing a sequence of single and series of letters
  • Range control, stretches (translation)
  • Writing and copying words and sentences with increasing neatness
  • Tracing word/letter formation within lines or pathways
  • Dot to dot, coloring within lines
  • Application of skills to functional tasks (writing lists, personal information, within blanks for sizing, money management tasks, recipes, e.g.)
  • Mindful activities

Lessons are functional, varied and progress with repeated practice throughout the program. Tips for therapists are also provided including posture, grasp patterns, lighting, and other positioning suggestions.

Adaptive equipment recommendations, like what pediatric therapists use for handwriting instruction, positioning and tool use are also provided:

The Handwriting for Heroes website offers several resources related to their program:

In addition to the recommended pens identified by the OT’s of Handwriting for Heroes program above, experience with evaluating vocational rehabilitation clients with mobility impairment (arthritis, reduced strength, pain, neurological disorders, Ehlers Danlos, e.g.) have found the following preferred adaptive pens/pencils and grips for handwriting tasks:

PenAgain image

Big fat arthritis pen image

Dr. Grip gel pen image

pencil grips

Conclusion

The Handwriting for Heroes 3rd Edition program is a well-organized manual providing sequential lessons for individuals interested in retraining handwriting with their non-dominant hand. The program offers lessons in the physical task involved in retraining as well as emotional guidance. The authors of Handwriting for Heroes also offer additional support when using the program including low tech equipment, positioning and intervention strategies. The Handwriting for Heroes website offers additional information on their program.

Regarding the vocational rehabilitation client assessed, she was motivated to use this program to learn to write with her non-dominant hand. After trial of different pens that would aid writing with decreased strength of her non-dominant hand, she chose the Super Big Fat Pens for Arthritis, a frequent low tech writing choice of clients I service with upper extremity strength and pain challenges.

H/T to the Occupational Therapist authors who dedicated their time in creating and publishing Handwriting for Heroes, offering a valuable resource to our OT Tool Kit.

More for your OT Tool Kit!

Carol – OT’s with Apps and Technology

References

Fox, J. (2005, November). A Survey of Electronic Note-Taking Behavior in Information and Library Science . Chapel Hill, NC, USA.

Posted in Adults, Assistive Technology, Fine Motor Development, Handwriting, Mobility Impairment, Notetaking,, Rehabilitation, Writing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Call Scotland – Android Apps for Learners with Dyslexia / Reading and Writing Difficulties

 

CALL Scotland, a service of the University of Edinburgh shares information and resources on assistive technology. They produce wonderful visual app wheels of apps and tools to support individuals with disabilities. They are a quick glance of tools or apps categorized within separate subcategories in their app wheels. One of their recent posters updated in 2018 presents Android Apps for Learners with Dyslexia / Reading and Writing Difficulties. This recent app wheel visually presents the already curated apps by subcategories that will support learners with reading and writing challenges.

image of Android apps for reading and writing for dyslexia

I love these app wheels and the subcategories to help identify new and old apps available. Check out the complete poster on their website: Android Apps for Learners with Dyslexia / Reading and Writing Difficulties.

Check out CALL Scotland posters and leaflets at their website.

H/T to CALL Scotland for their diligence with curating apps for special needs. Not an easy task when there are thousands of apps available!

More for your OT / AT Tool Kit!

Carol – OT’s with Apps and Technology

Posted in Android, Apps for OT's, Apps for Special Needs, Assistive Technology, Dysgraphia, Dyslexia, eBook Creating, Reading, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment