I ordered the new Tecla Shield DOS last week so that I could access my iPad using the switch control function in iOS 7. It arrived yesterday and I used it for a couple hours last night. Here are my initial thoughts.
Setting up the Shield couldn’t be easier. Developer Komodo OpenLabs deserves huge kudos for developing a truly plug-and-play device. It only took me a few minutes to select the proper mode on the Shield, connect my switch, and pair the Shield with my iPad. After a little fiddling with the Switch Control settings in iOS 7, I was up and running.
Apple has done an excellent job creating a switch interface that provides comprehensive control, regardless of how many switches are being used. Even with a single switch, I could open apps, scroll, flick, and perform other gestures. I could also type, albeit slowly, using the on-screen keyboard. The scanning rate and mode can be adjusted on the fly using an intuitive menu. The interface is also surprisingly smart. If I select a volume slider, the pop-up menu gives me the option to increase or decrease the volume. Well done, Apple!
The interface isn’t perfect. Some apps don’t play well with switches, particularly those with pop-up menus that don’t remain on-screen long enough to be activated by a switch. Developers will need to do a better job of designing apps that are accessible to everyone. Apple also really needs to add a word prediction function to its keyboard. I won’t be blogging from my iPad anytime soon.
I’ll post a video of me using the Shield in the next few days. Apple and Komodo OpenLabs have done a tremendous service to people with disabilities who, until now, have been excluded from the mobile computing revolution. Together, the Tecla Shield DOS and iOS 7 are a revolution in accessibility.