The charity Guide Dogs is to provide iPads for up to 2,500 children in the UK with vision impairment as part of a scheme to boost connectivity and independence in children with sight loss.
The Tech for All service is rolling out officially following a successful pilot scheme last year.
That pilot saw almost 5,000 iPhone and iPad devices given to children aged between three and 18 with a vision impairment, as well as the support of a specially created digital learning experience.
Guide Dogs said the pilot was found to significantly improve children’s confidence, creativity and independence, with their own research into the initial scheme finding that on average a child’s autonomy increased by 18%, engagement by 13% and sociability by 5%.
Emma Foulds, director of marketing and strategy at Guide Dogs, said: “We know from our research how important access to technology is and Tech for All is designed to empower children with sight loss with the tools they need to be more engaged, confident and keep pace with peers.
“Whether it is FaceTiming with friends, playing games, reading or learning, the accessibility features on an iPad can be key to unlocking the world for a child with a vision impairment; discovering their passions and maximising their potential.”
The charity said it chose the iPad for the scheme because of its range of built-in accessibility features. This allowed children to use the same device as their friends, while also customising it for their own accessibility needs.
The Apple device includes tools which enable users to use voice commands to navigate and interact with their iPad, as well as tools to make text larger, zoom in on and magnify the screen to help users see more of what’s on the screen, as well as have text read to them rather than reading it.
The Tech for All scheme is now open to every child in the UK aged between three and 18 with a vision impairment, and applications for a free device can be made at www.guidedogs.org.uk/techforall.