Monday, July 17, 2017

SnapType

Before P left for summer break his teachers gave everyone in his class a long summer assignment...a book to read and a packet of worksheets to fill in about the story.

The sheets look like this...all writing.


With P's 504 plan being so new, there was no time to figure out how he would complete the assignment with his assistive technology. In fact, we don't even know WHAT the technology will be...because I work for the district I know it will probably be Google Docs with Google Read & Write for Chrome, but on paper it just says, "typing."

However, I heard that if you're willing to purchase the technology yourself, the school will allow your child to bring it and use it (how generous). So we're using this packet assignment as an opportunity to figure out what will work for P, and I'm not confining my search to what the district is willing to provide.

When I searched for apps for dysgraphia I really came up short. There are lots of apps for dyslexia, but dysgraphia doesn't seem to have the same appeal to app makers. However, one app that I found and loved was SnapType. I thought this would be a real game-changer for P, and I was all set to plunk down cash for an Android tablet just so he could use it next year. Luckily, we tried it first, and found out that it wasn't the magic solution we were hoping for. Nothing is, really. It's a tool, and a very good one, but it won't be the solution for all of P's problems.

SnapType is a very clever app. You take a photo of the paper or worksheet you need to write on, and then you just tap to add yellow text boxes to type your answers right on top of the photo. When you're done you can email it as a PDF or JPEG to your teacher. The yellow boxes disappear on the teacher's copy, which results in a very clean-looking worksheet. If you get the Pro version you can store images in the app in different folders, so the kid can always keep a copy.


Pros:

Worksheets like this are tough for kids with dysgraphia, and teachers often forget to scan worksheets in for kids who use assistive technology. This allows teachers or kids to make worksheets accessible on the fly. This is a huge plus. 

The folder feature makes it easy for kids to keep their worksheets organized.

This app gives the power to the student in terms of making worksheets accessible.

Cons:

You have to make your own line breaks by tapping a new box. This was hard for P to do when he was typing, because he was concentrating so hard on what he wanted to express, as well as typing it out.

There's no spell check or grammar check. I really miss this feature. I'd be willing to pay more for SnapType with spell check and grammar check.

One thing that isn't about the app, but is a practical consideration...P prefers to type on a real keyboard. I've looked for tablet cases with attached keyboards, and it's hard to find one that still makes it easy to take photos with the tablet. Most keyboard cases make it more cumbersome to manipulate the tablet to take a photo.

All in all, I think this will be very useful to P, and I hope his school will allow him to take a tablet to school to use. This would be absolutely phenomenal for an older student to install on their phone, either as their primary writing tool or just as a back-up to their usual accommodations.

I feel like I should give this a certain rating, like a certain number of stars. But P is past his astronomy phase and is all about steampunk right now, so I give SnapType 4.5 anachronistic goggles. It's a great app.

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