Photo Release -- iPad App Helps Autistic Teen Communicate

Pacific Palisades, California, UNITED STATES


NEW YORK, April 7, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- One of the first apps developed for Apple's new iPad is a tool to help autistic people communicate. Called iMeanTM, it turns the entire iPad screen into a large-button keyboard, with text display and word prediction. It allows people who are speech-challenged to communicate their needs and ideas directly, distinctly and independently. 

A photo accompanying this release is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=7312

iMean was developed by Michael Bergmann, a New York-based filmmaker whose son is autistic, and Richard Meade-Miller, an 18-year-old first-time programmer from Los Angeles. Bergmann's son, Daniel Bergmann, 14, was not only the inspiration for the app, but provided significant input on the app's design.

"This is something the iPad delivers that few other devices could," explains Bergmann. "It cannot be done on a phone-sized device because many users cannot operate a small keyboard. But the iPad, with its unique combination of large size, touch display, and extreme portability, is perfect." More information on iMean is available at www.iMean.mobi

Autism often includes physical limitations, such as motor-control difficulty, that make actions like speech or typing impossible. Some autistic people communicate using a card with a large alphabet on it, which they point to with a pencil to spell out words. This process often includes active participation by a facilitator who encourages the user and says the words as they are being spelled. 

iMean presents a similar letterboard on the entire face of the iPad. The user points with a finger, and the app collects the words on its text display as they're spelled out. iMean offers word suggestions to complete partly-spelled words, speeding up the conversation. The facilitator can participate, but iMean encourages greater communication independence.

"Dan was using it well within minutes," recounts Bergmann. "He used it to tell me that his favorite feature of the app is word-prediction, because it makes him read more."

Much of the technical development of iMean was done by a self-taught, first-time programmer, Richard Meade-Miller, who learned the iPad development language and programmed the app in just three weeks.

"My mind is a little blown," confesses Meade-Miller. "I can barely believe I have an app in the App Store three weeks after the first time I opened the SDK [Apple's iPad Software Development Kit]. It's very exciting to be able to jump into something that's totally new to me ... and succeed!"

The app also incorporates features developed by Aram Julhakyan of ZenBrains, Barcelona, Spain.  

Bergmann and Meade-Miller expect to extend iMean with features to help a variety of non-speakers communicate in different media. Bucking the trend in costly software for people with disabilities, iMean is priced at a modest $4.99, just one percent of the price of the iPad itself.

For information, high resolution photos, or to arrange interviews, contact Steve Miller, Metaphorce Creative Services, steve@metaphorce.com or 424.242.4748.

The photo is also available via AP PhotoExpress.



        
iMean app for iPad helps autistic teen communicate

Contact Data