In the first two parts of this series, we explained why speech-language pathologists should incorporate tablets into therapy and how people with acquired communication disorders can benefit from using apps at home. Now we’re giving you the background and technical information you need to get started, all in one place, with 29 app and iPad basics.

App and iPad basics - Part 3 of 7

Buying a Device

1) Device Options

The options keep changing as Apple releases new iPads. You can choose between 2 sizes of iPad Pro, the classic iPad, or the smaller iPad mini. For speech therapy, we recommend an iPad or iPad Pro for the larger screen, with as much memory as you can afford. WiFi only will work for most people, but if you need Internet access in remote areas and can’t hotspot to your phone’s data plan, then spring for the Cellular. Here’s a guide to the 2018 options.

Learning to Use an iPad

2) The Missing Manual

When you unwrap a new iPad, you won’t find a manual in the box. Apple provides a manual online or in PDF. We recommend the Making Cognitive Connections book to take you through each feature of the iPad, with practice opportunities focused on supporting cognition for people with brain injury.

Buying Apps

3) Apple ID

You will need to log into the iPad and App Store with an Apple ID. It’s important to remember your email and password combination for downloading apps. Every app is associated with the Apple ID used to purchase it, not the device it is installed on. You can install each app you buy with your Apple ID on any device you own.

Pro Tip: For clinics purchasing apps, be sure to use an Apple ID that belongs to the clinic, not an employee. This way you ensure the apps will stay if the employee leaves.

4) Restoring Purchases

If your device is lost, stolen, broken, or you want to hand it down, all the apps you’ve purchased are still yours. Once you get a new device, you simply log into the App Store with your Apple ID, find your purchased apps, and re-download them. Apple gives you step-by-step instructions.

5) App Types

There are paid, free, and freemium apps on the App Store. Even if an app is free to download, there may be hidden costs. Free apps still require an Apple ID to download.

6) Restricting App Purchases

If you’re worried about kids, employees, patients, or other users buying apps or in-app purchases without permission, you can restrict app purchases through the Settings app of the iPad.

7) Licensing

When you purchase apps, you agree to Apple’s End User License Agreement, or EULA – a lot of fine print you probably didn’t read. Here’s the rule: the person who buys the app can use it on all of their personal devices (Mary can buy an app and use it on both her iPad and iPhone). For a facility with multiple devices that are used by many people, a license is needed for each device (the rehab unit needs to purchase 5 licenses to install the same app on 5 iPads that are used by many SLPs and patients).

app licenses are part of iPad basics

8) Volume Purchase Program and Education VPP

So how do you buy more than one copy of an app? The Volume Purchase Program allows you do this. If you are an educational institution, you may qualify for 50% off apps when you purchase 20 or more copies. There is no discount for businesses, including healthcare, but you can enroll in the VPP to purchase and distribute apps to multiple devices and stay compliant with the law.

9) Gift Cards & Gift Apps

If you don’t have a credit card, you can still buy apps using a gift card. Sometimes stores will discount App Store gift cards too, so watch for these special offers. Apps can even be given as gifts; see our gift-giving guide for step-by-step instructions. App Store cards and apps make great thank-you gifts for SLPs!

10) App Discounts

App developers can change the price of their app at any time. This price is available to everyone, so you won’t see discount codes or coupons for apps. If you’re buying several apps from the same developer, look for discounts by purchasing app bundles.

Our app bundles allow you to get related apps at bargain prices year-round. Combine the Tactus Collection Part 1 – Aphasia and Tactus Collection Part 2 – Clinical Tools app bundles to get all of our apps at a discount.

11) Refunds

Officially, all app sales are final. However, if you have a legitimate problem, Apple will often return your money. If you bought an iPad app but only have an iPhone, or purchase an app with the wrong Apple ID, you can report a problem to Apple to request a refund. If you’re having trouble with an app not working the way you expect, it’s best to first contact the developer for support before requesting a refund.

12) Promo Codes

App developers are given 100 codes for a free download of each paid app to use for promotional purposes. If you’re fortunate enough to receive a promo code, you’ll need to redeem it quickly following these simple steps.

We offer our promo codes to aphasia centers, university clinics, speakers, bloggers, and researchers. Occasionally we’ll also donate them as prizes to conferences, auctions, or to say thanks to our loyal fans.

iPad Settings

13) Accessibility Options

Apple seems genuinely concerned with accessibility for people with visual, hearing, motor, and literacy/learning challenges. We’ve compiled some of the best accessibility features for people with communication disorders, as well as some alternative keyboards for assistive technology. All of the accessibility options are in the Settings app and are worth checking out.

14) Guided Access

For users with autism, brain injury, or other problems with impulsivity, guided access is a useful feature that prevents users from leaving an app. It also restricts designated zones on the screen and locks out the hardware buttons. Enable this feature through the accessibility settings, then triple-click the home button to turn it on.

15) Updating the iOS

Apple recommends that you keep your device up-to-date with the latest version of their operating system, iOS. Currently we’re on iOS8, though an older device may still be running iOS4, 5, 6, or 7. Each new version brings new features, while updates fix problems. Some apps require the latest versions of iOS. You’ll find this on the App Store where it says Compatibility:

compatibility for iOS in iPad Basics

16) Updating Apps

Keeping your apps up-to-date is important. Developers release updates to fix issues or include new features. The easiest way to make sure you have the latest version is to ensure that automatic updates are enabled. The process is simple: Go to Settings –> iTunes & App Store and make sure Updates is switched on. If you’d prefer to update manually, you can go to the App Store and click on the Updates tab to see which apps have updates.

17) Mute Lock

If you find that the sound isn’t working in one of your apps, it’s usually because of the mute lock switch on the side of your device. The mute lock is great for being able to quickly silence your device, but it can be confusing since some apps override the switch and make you think your sound is on. We’ve provided step-by-step instructions for resolving this issue.

18) Security

It’s important to keep both your device and data secure, especially if you work in a healthcare setting. Adding a passcode to your iPad can help with this. The passcode can be a 4-digit code or a more complex password. You can even use your fingerprint for more security on newer devices.

19) Find My iPad

If your device is lost or stolen, you can find it using the Find My iPad app. See where it is currently located on a map and remotely lock it (provided it is online). You can also send a message to be displayed on the screen so that when it’s found, the person knows who to contact.

Using Apps

20) Organizing Apps into Folders

When you have many apps on your iPad, it can be difficult to find the one you’re looking for. To help, you can arrange them into folders. Folders can be especially helpful for clinicians to organize apps by activity or goal, such as “Articulation,” “Language,” or “Social Skills.” Grouping apps by function, such as “Music,” “Games,” or “Therapy,” might be helpful for home users.

21) Searching for Apps on the Device

If you still can’t find what you’re looking for by using folders, you can search your iPad for apps. On iOS 8, just swipe down from the middle of the home screen. On earlier versions of iOS, keep swiping to the right to find the search on the left-most page of all your screens.

search apps ipad basics

22) Reviewing Apps

It’s important to share your opinions of the apps you use to help others find the good ones and avoid the bad ones. Leave feedback on the App Store by indicating a rating out of 5 stars or by writing a review. Note: you cannot rate an app you do not own or one you downloaded with a promo code.

Tactus Therapy apps never interrupt your therapy to ask you to leave a rating. We depend on you to go to the App Store through the Connect with Us link on the home screen of your Tactus apps. We really appreciate the time you take to let others know how much you love our apps!

23) Problems with Apps

Occasionally you will experience problems with apps. Apple has a standard list of suggestions to help you try to rectify the problem. Most importantly, contact the developer of the app so they can help you work through any issues.

iPad Maintenance

24) Charging

There’s nothing more annoying than needing to use your device and finding the battery dead. It’s important to keep it charged. If you won’t be using it for several days or weeks, Apple recommends storing it fully powered down at half-charge.

25) Cleaning

Under normal use, the only cleaning you’ll need to do is wiping fingerprints off the screen with a lint-free cloth. For healthcare, the safest cleaning agent for the device is alcohol, though a protective case may be cleaned with stronger chemicals. Single-use plastic sleeves are another option for isolation precautions. It’s always best to contact your infection control department for best practices in your facility.

There’s an app to help you remember to clean and do a thorough job. DeBac-app is a free iPad app that guides you through cleaning and records the time of each disinfection.

iPad Accessories

26) Cases, Stands, & Straps

Most people decide to put a case on their device to protect it from scratches or drops. The type of case you buy depends most on the level of protection you need, which is usually quite high for speech therapists. Stands are useful when using a tablet on a table and may be built into some cases. For people who need to carry a device with them at all times for communication, a strap may be useful.

27) Mounts & Locks

Mount a device in a fixed location for one-handed access, convenience, or security. A variety of wheelchair, table, clip, and floor mounts are available. There are also locks to secure an iPad, often built into mounts, cases, or stands.

ipad stand for ipad basics

28) Styluses & Keyboards

A stylus is useful for writing on the screen of a tablet, and helps people with dexterity problems to selecting small areas of the screen. An external keyboard connected through Bluetooth can help you use a tablet more like a laptop.

29) Speakers & Headphones

The built-in speakers are sufficient for most purposes, but if you’re trying to use a device as a communication aid in noisy environments, external speakers are required. Some specialty cases have built-in speakers. For those with hearing or attention problems, headphones can help.


Please share this guide with your clients, colleagues, and friends through social media or email so everyone can have the basic iPad skills they need to benefit from using apps in speech therapy.



What app and iPad basics did we miss? What are your favorite resources?

Part 4 of the “Getting Started with Apps in Speech Therapy” series offers tips for finding and evaluating apps. Read part 1 or part 2 now. Subscribe to get all our blog posts delivered to your inbox as they’re published, or sign-up for the newsletter for a monthly digest of blog posts.