sxsw interactive panel

BridgingApps at SXSW 2014

Autism APPtitude: Using Apps to Target Skills

sxsw interactive panelGood, accessible design provides a better product for everyone. This was the theme of our SXSW panel, as well as many other discussions we attended.

During SXSWedu and SXSW Interactive, BridgingApps presented how mobile devices and well-designed apps can be used to target and improve skill development during the Autism APPtitude panel. The panelists, which included speech therapists, special education teachers, disability advocates, parents, and one of BridgingApps’ co-founders, Cristen Reat, discussed how the move to consumer electronics and apps from specialized medical devices for people with disabilities can be democratizing. They also shared a number of apps that can be used to improve individual skills and focused on desired development features including data tracking, customizable content, adjustable sensory features, the ability for AAC and language apps to increase vocabulary and complexity, and more.


The panel was very interactive and we were thrilled to have Robert Rummel-Hudson’s daughter, Schuyler, attend and demonstrate how she uses her iPad to help aid her communication!

The panel was described as the “most unique” session at SXSW with a combination of personal success stories using mobile devices and apps, as well as the live demonstration by Schuyler.

Schuyler summed up our panel by telling the audience, “we are smart and awesome and helpful!”

SXSW Highlights

cristen-reat-mark-barletWe were able to meet up with Mark Barlet, the Founder and Director of AbleGamers and attend his panel on Includification – More Gamers with Disability. We also had the opportunity to check out the first XBox One one-handed controller that makes it easier for those with motor disabilities to play a video game with only one hand. He also announced a new location for an AbleGamers-sponsored Accessibility Arcade in Toronto.

Locomotive Labs continues to impress us with their creativity and commitment to Universal Design for Learning in their app designs. Todo Telling Time and Todo K-2 Math Practice offer engaging games that help build a strong foundation for further mathematical learning. There are many populations, including English language learners and students with learning differences such as attention and memory deficits, for whom memorizing can hold extra challenges. Struggling learners benefit from additional visual supports and practice found in these two apps to strengthen their relationship to solving math problems.

We also met Katie Hench and Christopher Flint of InfiniTeach. They are in process of launching their first app (March 2014) targeting students with Autism. Their guiding principles for app design include customizable lessons, engaging and intuitive visuals, data tracking student progress and opportunities for the child to practice specific skills in a variety of settings to generalize that skill. We look forward to seeing what’s next for InfiniTeach!

We enjoyed meeting some of “the Geeks from Gangnam,” Sanghwa Chung and Youngjin Chun at their booth as they introduced their new app for the Android Market – Let’s Fold – Origami Puzzles. Boasting over 100 engaging puzzles, Let’s Fold captures the worldwide love of origami and encourages players to share it with their friends across the globe. The game centers on the unlimited possibilities that can arise from a single sheet of paper, challenging players to match a shape using a set number of folds. This simple premise opens the door to origami newcomers and veterans alike, while the increasingly intricate puzzles keep gamers of all skill levels coming back for more.

Finally, our team was attended the Geek Out for Good: Apps that Change the World panel which discussed a number of ways developers can build something meaningful by considering their global audience and by including accessibility features. The panel was well attended by developers, non-profit organizations, and even NASA. It was a great way to end an exciting week at SXSW!

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