Tech Toys & Apps for All
The holidays are here again! We, at BridgingApps, keep an eye out all year for new and exciting technology and apps for all ages and abilities. The holidays are a great time for us to share some of our favorite finds from 2022 with you. Read more about the products and suggestions for use then check out the apps that go along with them. One or two of them might just make the perfect gift for your loved ones!
How about some cool tech for holiday fun?
Do you have someone in your family who has low vision? Have they ever used a light box? How about turning their tablet into a light box? Maybe you are new to visual impairments and wondering, “what is a light box and why use it with kids with visual impairments?” Oftentimes light boxes are associated with photographers and looking at film negatives or with artists for tracing tasks. For kids with visual impairments, a light box’s illuminated surface creates a high contrast background that can help teach basic visual skills, visual motor and visual perceptual skills. Bottom line – good lighting can be a huge help with kids’ learning! We recommend making sure you have an excellent screen protector on the surface, either a built-in one from the case or a separate one. Then check out apps like Light box for Low Vision for iPad or Lightbox on Google Play for Android tablets. You can experiment using a variety of objects, such as these View-Thru Geometric Solids available on Amazon.
How about a tiny Bluetooth speaker or a new type of screen-free music and story box? First up, the Liddle Speaker. It is a small magnetic speaker that attaches easily to any MagSafe phone case or magnetic surface. It also comes with two magnetic adhesive rings that can be attached to any non-magnetic surface to create a place to listen to music wirelessly. With all of the assistive devices and equipment that people with disabilities often have to have near them at all times, something so lightweight that can attach to multiple surfaces is refreshing!
The Toniebox is a great screen-free entertainment option for kids of all ages. This cube-shaped speaker comes to life when paired with one of the many Tonies, characters that have pre-recorded songs and stories. The Toniebox is available in multiple colors and the selection of Tonies available seems endless! Choose familiar characters from Disney, Sesame Street, and more. The starter set includes a Tonibox and the Playtime Puppy Tonie, with familiar songs for kids like Baby Shark, Wheels on the Bus, and more. We love the idea of having a nighttime story or lullaby playing while children rest without the harsh, distracting blue light emitted by tablets.
We also found this great compact, portable label maker that can help anyone who has limited fine motor skills and finds writing difficult or those of us who just love staying organized by labeling everything! The Phomemo D30 Label Printer (available in green, pink, white) is a compact portable label maker where you can print labels and stickers anytime, anywhere. About the size of a smartphone, it connects via Bluetooth to the Print Master app on your smartphone or tablet to print high quality black and white labels and stickers wirelessly. Use it to label school supplies, water bottles, tags, jars – practically anything you can think of! We have used this device with a child who has a visual impairment and cognitive disabilities because he lacks the fine motor skills to write. He loves typing his own labels in large font and sticking them on household items that help him with daily activities, like toothbrush, water bottle, folder, and snacks. The set up time for this device and app took about 10 minutes from start to finish. There are many types of labels you can purchase, and the device comes with a small starter roll of rectangular white labels ½ inch width to 1 inch length.
We can’t talk about tech shopping for the holidays without mentioning one of our favorite accessories for smartphones- Pop Sockets! We have mentioned Pop Sockets before as they are a great, fairly cheap accessory for smartphones that can benefit all types of people. We love that they make it easier to hold your phone steady while taking photos and scanning documents as well as helping to decrease fatigue in those with limited hand strength and mobility. These Pop Socket Slides are great for those who don’t want to make a permanent commitment to using a pop socket but like the convenience of it at times. The sides grip the edges of the phone and the pop socket can be slid up or down on the phone or removed completely as needed. Our reviewer of this product used it with her MagSafe case on an iPhone 13 Pro so that she could completely remove the pop socket for charging. Pop socket also now offers a PopGrip for MagSafe cases that attaches magnetically and can be easily removed as needed.
Looking for items to keep your loved one safe?
We are too! Take a look at these great tools.
If I Need Help offers a quick, easy, FREE way for caregivers to create a scannable QR code that can be printed and placed on the items of loved ones for identification in case of an emergency. When scanned, the QR code displays information such as who to call, relevant medical information diagnoses such as diabetes or seizures, all customizable by the caregiver. They have expanded their online store to include a wide variety of wearable items and other accessories available for purchase that have the individual’s QR code on them.
How about trying out some of the trackers available to help keep up with your family’s backpacks, wallets, keys, and other items? Chipolo offers trackers that use their own app, but also has a line of products that work seamlessly with Apple Find My to track items. For iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch users, this might be a more convenient tracker as they do not have to download yet another 3rd party app to use it, but instead just add it as an accessory in the Find My app already on their device. The trackers are currently priced starting from $25 for the ones that work with the Chipolo app only and $28 for the ones that work with Find My. Our reviewer loved that she could locate her keys with the Chipolo attached by simply opening the Find My app on her Apple Watch.
Another type of tracker, Tile, has been around for a while, but has recently expanded their selection of products. In addition to the trackers Tile offers in the form of a key-fob style that can attach to bags, keys, and more, the flat credit card size, and stickers (with prices starting at $24.99*), they have now introduced a new, affordable ($14.99 for a 3-pack with 15 labels*), peel-and-stick Lost and Found Labels. The labels have a QR code that can be scanned by anyone who finds your missing item to help get it back to you. In addition, since they are battery-free, they are even dishwasher safe- no more lost water bottles?
*All prices mentioned are at the time of this publication
By tonies GmbH
The mytonies app makes your Tonibox even easier to use! We LOVE that caregivers can access their collection of Tonies using the app and even record their own stories and messages on a Creative-Tonie! How about a recording of a parent or grandparent reading the child’s favorite bedtime story that they can access any time by just placing the Tonie on the Toniebox?
Print Master is the companion app to the Phomemo bluetooth label printer we mentioned above. It is an intelligent label printing and editing software that connects your phone to the printer using Bluetooth technology. The printer is handy and portable and fun for users of all ages.
Light Box for Low Vision
By ANDREW SARTORIUS
For parents of children with visual impairments, you may have been told to use a light box. This device and associate films are traditionally rather expensive. This simple free app allows you to work with your child in the same way that a light box does: displaying various colors and patterns using an iPad.
By Christian Basler
The Lightbox app turns your existing Android tablet into a lightbox for users with a visual impairment. This simple, free app is a good alternative to the traditionally more expensive light box devices and the films that accompany them.
Tile- Find lost keys & phone
By Tile, Inc.
The tile app works with Tile products mentioned above such as the new peel and stick Lost and Found Labels, key fobs, credit card size trackers and stickers. Tile offers a Premium subscription model option with benefits like battery replacement and smart alerts, among others.
FREE • Offers In-App Purchases
Chipolo- Find Your Everything
By Chipolo d.o.o.
The Chipolo app works with the various types of trackers sold on their website by allowing you to make the tracker alert you to where the attached item is by emitting a noise. It also allows you to choose to be alerted if you leave without the item allowing you to avoid the dreaded feeling of getting somewhere and realizing you left your wallet, bag, or other needed item at home!
If I Need Help
By If I Need Help
If I Need Help is a free web-based app (and mobile friendly) that allows family members and caregivers to create a customized wearable QR code linked to an individual with disabilities or special needs. The goal is to keep loved ones safe by alerting community members and first responders that the person wearing the QR code is a person with special needs who needs help, and tips for giving that help.
Check out BridgingApps App Search Tool to search for apps, create lists and even share them.
BridgingApps, a program of Easter Seals Greater Houston, is a community of parents, therapists, doctors and teachers who share information about using mobile devices with people who have special needs.
Amy Fuchs is the Program Manager at BridgingApps and a former special education teacher. Amy Barry is the Digital Marketing Lead at BridgingApps and mother of five children.
Cristen Reat is co-founder of BridgingApps and a mother who found success when using a mobile device with her younger son who has multiple disabilities. We share a passion for using mobile technology to enhance the lives of people of all ages with disabilities.
- Autism & Wandering Prevention Tips: Promoting Safety in the Home & Community
- On the Run: Dealing with Children’s Elopement in Real Time
- 10 Things Every Parent of a Special Needs Child Should Have Before Traveling
- The Importance of Teaching Children Body Safety
- BODY SAFETY BE AWARE: Some General Tips and Guidelines
- Digital Safety: An Ongoing Conversation
- Summer Internet Surfing Keeping Kids Safe Online
More Gift Ideas
- 100 + “Mom Approved” Gifts for Kids with Special Needs
- 18 “Mom Approved” Gifts for Kids/Teens with Special Needs
This post originally appeared on our November/December 2022 Magazine