Imean

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iMean is a computer program—an "app"—created for Apple Computer's iPad tablet computer. It transforms the entire screen of the iPad into a large-font letterboard so that autistic people and others who use facilitated communication can benefit from an augmentative communications device.

iMean allows the user to point to letters and numbers with a finger. 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. A facilitator can participate, as is usually done with a paper letterboard, but iMean encourages greater communication independence.

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 and feature-set. It also includes word-prediction features developed by Aram Julhakyan of ZenBrains, Barcelona, Spain. It was one of the select group of apps that was available on the Appstore when the iPad launched on April 3, 2010.

Unlike the costly software and hardware devices often targeted at those with disabilities, iMean was introduced at a modest $4.99US to encourage users to try it with little risk. This is often an important issue, since the compatibility of a particular assistive technology is very variable from one user to another, depending on the user's individual skills and limitations; testing several high-priced solutions can become a severe financial burden.

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