Wednesday, June 11, 2014

SnapType For Occupational Therapy: For Students Who Have Difficulty With Handwriting

A little compassion, zeal for problem solving, and a sketch on a napkin can do wonders to bring real world solutions for some people! Today's post is written by Amberlynn Gifford, an occupational therapy student, who helped a student diagnosed with dysgraphia keep up with his peers by developing an iPad app for him.
Steven* is a 5th grader that I met during my occupational therapy fieldwork this spring. He is diagnosed with Dysgraphia however his mind is sharp, but his handwriting is so messy that he can't even read his own writing. His OT tried countless ways to help him improve his penmanship but nothing seemed to work. The caring OT went so far as to scan his worksheets into a computer but that consumed too much time during class was quite a hassle. Even worse, Steven was very frustrated and getting left behind in class because he couldn't complete the worksheets with the rest of his peers.
I thought that there had to be a better way to help Steven keep up with the other kids in his class. Then I had an idea, what if Steven could take a picture of his worksheet using an iPad and then type his answers directly on the screen? I searched all over the app store, but there was nothing that did what I wanted. Well, there were a few apps but they were designed for business people and were far too complex for a child to use.
So I sketched out my idea on a napkin and shared it with Steven's OT. She loved the idea. So I put together a detailed mockup of the app and worked with a developer to build it. A few weeks and a few dollars later, I had a working app!
Steven's OT and teacher are thrilled. However, the real joy comes from seeing Steven use the app. It's effortless for him to take a picture of a worksheet and use the iPad keyboard to type in the answers. He's no longer left behind in class and is now more confident than ever! While he continues to work on his penmanship, he's now able to keep up with his peers.
SnapType is an iPad app that anyone can use. It's available on the app store for free and I'm hoping to help as many kids as I can by reaching out to OTs, teachers and parents.
*Name changed for privacy.

Amberlynn Gifford is a 2nd year OT student at Springfield College in Massachusetts. When she's not studying, which is rare, you can find her coaching gymnastics and working on all sorts of creative projects. She will graduate with her masters degree in 2016 and looks forward to working in pediatrics. Connect with Amberlynn at


  1. Super easy to use and fills a gap. Can you add a way to share the completed work?

  2. Hi! To save and share your work press the iPad home button and power button at the same time (this saves as screen capture to your iPad’s camera roll). From there you can print it or share it! Hope that helps!

  3. Hi,
    Thanks. I know about screenshots. I was hoping there could be a way within the app itself. You may want to consider it as an upgrade.
    In the meantime, it's quick and efficient when teachers hand out worksheets. Thanks for creating this. We use Paperport Notes for a similar purpose but this is so much easier, especially for the younger students who don't need all the features of Paperport.
    Great job!

  4. Thank you!! Currently I am paying for this out of my pocket (as a graduate student). Unfortunately, I don't have the money to add more upgrades at this moment. I plan to add upgrades in the future! Thanks for writing and I am glad it will be helpful to your students!

  5. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I'm a mother of twins. My son is autistic and my daughter has cerebral palsy. They are still only 2 and a half... but I'm sure they will both need and use this. The fact that you have also made it free and are paying for it out of pocket is just the sweetest thing ever. I read about this last night and cried tears of joy. There aren't too many people creating things that will help for no profit. You are amazing! And I'm going to be telling everyone who will listen about you, this story, and your app. Thank you again, I truly appreciate it!!

  6. Will this be available for Android devices?

  7. Jessica,

    Thank you for your kind words! I am so happy that my app may be helpful to you, as well as so many others! Thank you so much for sharing!!

  8. Currently there are no plans to do an android version. But if there's enough interest in the future I will consider it. Like I said previously I pay for this out of my pocket (as a Grad student) . Unfortunately I don't have the money to build an android version right now. Thanks for writing.