Posted by Deborah Pujoue on November 9, 2011
Here’s something not even the late Steve Jobs imagined: A new study seems to suggest that the iPad may be able to help children with serious vision problems communicate better. The study also suggests that the iPad may even be a life-changing therapeutic tool, too.
According to research conducted at the University of Kansas, Apple’s most popular tablet might just be able to improve cortical visual impairment, which is a severe neurological disorder that is caused by brain damage and makes it difficult for children to interpret what their eyes see. The study was conducted by Muriel Saunders, assistant research professor at the University of Kansas’s Life Span Institute, and was meant to study how children react to “adaptive switches” which is a tool that is used to teach kids that have disabilities language development. This is where the iPad comes in as it was used to gauge that interaction.
“We gave 15 toddlers between the ages of three and four with cortical visual impairment an iPad to play with and were completely shocked with the results,” Saunders said in an interview with TechNewsDaily. “Children with the disorder don’t usually look directly at people and objects, but they were completely drawn to the light of the iPad and could interact with objects on the screen.”
Saunders also stated that, “Someone with severe cortical visual impairment will spend a lot of time looking at lights. They might just sit and look at a light inside the house or typically they look out the window into the bright sunlight. They might look briefly at something passing by, but they don’t look at faces and they don’t look at objects. So they appear to be blind.”
If this study is correct, this could be a welcome breakthrough for parents and teachers of children with severe vision problems. While Saunders is hoping to get a grant to fund further study, she believes that “The iPad can not only be used to help them interact with the screen, it can also teach them how to control the things they see on the screen.” Regardless of whether Jobs was thinking about this when he invented the iPad, I am certain that he would be very pleased.