iPad Mounting Considerations

an image of A DAESSY Lite Mount for iPad

iPads are commonly used in all households but becoming increasingly popular in disability for a person to use for learning, leisure, communication, computer access and environmental control.  We are often asked about the best way to position an iPad for someone to use in their wheelchair.  A person may have it positioned on a wheelchair tray but this is often not secure enough to hold the iPad in a consistent position for use and places the iPad at risk of being damaged.  There are various mounting options for an iPad so we’ll attempt to step you through the decision-making process to find the most suitable solution.

As with all technology provisioning it is good to step through some ‘what’, ‘how’, ‘who’ and ‘when’ clinical reasoning “check-points” for iPad mounting.

We’ll look at most of these in this article but let’s start with the easiest first up.

what?” Questions Regarding The iPad

Some of the ‘what’ questions when considering iPad Mounting can be broken down into iPad-related questions and wheelchair related questions.

For iPad-related considerations, they may include the following:

  • What is the make and model of iPad being mounted?
  • Is the iPad already in a protective case and if so what kind?
  • Is it likely that the iPad may be upgraded in the near future?
  • Does the iPad need to be used in other environments, for example, at a desk or bed?

Collecting this information first will assist with determining many different procedural aspects of the mounting scenario, including how the iPad itself is connected to the mounting system to be employed e.g. will that be via a mounting plate or should a cradle like system be put in place instead.

As you would already appreciate, Apple did not incorporate into their design of iPad, any model, an obvious way for it to be safely and securely attached to mounting and positioning aids.

To accommodate that need for those people living with a disability who would like or need an iPad as part of their AAC, mount manufacturers either adapt existing “consumer electronic” iPad casing solutions so that you have mounting + protection in one, or make cradles to suit a BYO case approach. It is also useful to re-purpose existing cradling solution from other industries to our needs when they present.

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To expand on that thought a little more, there are a range of mounting plate options for iPads such as the modified protective cases from DAESSY that are made to suit each model of iPad.  Sometimes an iPad is mounted in its own protective case using cradles, trays and holders that have been made for the purpose or “re-purposed” from manufacturers like RAM Mounts. This option allows you to easily remove the iPad from the case to use in other environments such as a classroom desk and gives you the flexibility of upgrading your iPad without having to purchase a new mounting plate. 

Some cases also incorporate in-built speakers for communication such as AMDi’s iAdapter.  These cases usually have a protective housing design, with screw holes incorporated in the design for a mount plate, much like the dedicated speech generating devices.

Communicate AT can assist you to determine what may be the most appropriate mounting plate option for your iPad and chosen mounting system.

Wheelchair related considerations are important as they attend to the methods mounting will be attached or anchored on the mobilty aids in question. For wheelchair, some of those questions are as follows:

  • What is the make and model of wheelchair?
  • Does the mount need to be transferred between wheelchairs or between the wheelchair and a bed or table?
  • Does the wheelchair have a tray?

For every wheelchair type or model there are potentially different ways to attach a mount kit. We’re constantly reviewing and updating our Wheelchairs vs Frame Clamps listing to assist and it might be worthwhile refreshing how to fit a Frame Clamp in our associated article, Fitting A Mount Kit Part 1: Frame Clamps if you’re not sure about this step.

Other equipment of the chair and other questions about usage help paint the picture of “need”, which is added to the “features vs need” matching process we advocate, to ensure the best fit.

For example, one option to consider for positioning iPads for those people who have a tray on their wheelchair is a suction mount.  These mounts are cost effective and simple to use, however require positioning each time for use.  They may not be as stable for those people who are putting a lot of pressure on the iPad when directly accessing it.

‘On the Fly’ Mounting options

‘On the fly’ mounting options include those with a clamp system to attach the mount to the wheelchair frame. They are generally a less costly option in comparison to a more permanent wheelchair mount but provide less stability for positioning the iPad and need positioning each time they are attached to the wheelchair.  This requires someone who knows the person with a disability well to ensure that it is in the most optimal position for use each day.

how?” Questions About Access

To ensure the best position for access is being considered, it is important to know ‘how’ the person accesses the iPad.

Is it directly using their hand, or eye gaze or using some sort of mouse? Or are they accessing the iPad with a switch or switches? Each one of those different access methods potentially have different positions in space where best access is achieved.

Answering the “how” question is quite straight forward but it will assist with identifying the positioning of the iPad need by the person using it in their wheelchair.

For example, a longer pole will be required for eye gaze or possibly switching, whereas someone directly accessing with their hand will require the iPad to be positioned much lower or even on their wheelchair tray. 

More Permanent Wheelchair Mounting options

There are a number of more compact and lightweight mounting options for an iPad that will provide more permanent and consistent positioning of your iPad. 

These include the DAESSY Lite and DAESSY Mini range of mounts.  These options all have different features including the ability to swing or fold away if required and differing abilities to position the device optimally around obstacles such as wheelchair trays. 

the back of a mounted iPad

If you need help choosing the right mounting system for your iPad, please contact Communicate AT, we’re happy to offer advice and support, or point you in the direction of specialist service or other AT supplier who may be able to assist with finding a solution to meet your needs.