Beit Issie Shapiro collaborated with developers to create an application which serves as an adaptive Hebrew iPad keyboard with special features making typing easier for children and adults with learning disabilities, visual impairments, and developmental and intellectual disabilities.

An Israeli NGO launched an application last week designed to assist children and adults with learning disabilities to learn how to type. The NGO, Beit Issie Shapiro, which develops and provides innovative therapies and services for children with disabilities and their families, collaborated with SAP developers to create the application following an innovation competition held by the development company.

The application is a new keyboard called IssieBoard, which serves as an adaptive Hebrew iPad keyboard with special features making typing easier for children and adults with learning disabilities, visual impairments, and developmental and intellectual disabilities. It can even assist immigrants who wish to learn Hebrew as well.

Beit Issie Shapiro Technology Consulting Center Director Yael Elstein said that while such technology does exist in English, there is no equivalent in Hebrew.

The main benefits of the keyboard include the ability to customize practically any feature to suit the needs of the user. For example, users can change background and letter colors. They can also customize the contrast in order to strengthen or weaken the various visuals. Different areas on the keyboard can be colored as well.

“All these features are so important for people who are visually impaired. This really makes it easier for them to type, whether it mean enlarging the key size or making the letters stand out, such as with final form letters, which in Hebrew can often cause typos. It really makes such an impact on the children,” Elstein said.

She also said that the keyboard could address the challenge faced by new immigrants who are not used to the Israeli keyboard. “I also think it can be good for teaching new immigrants to type in Hebrew though it is mainly for people with difficulties,” she said.

The application was developed over several months with the assistance of Beit Issie Shapiro’s occupational therapist, Noa Nitzan.

By: Alexander J. Apfel/TPS