July 24, 2013

Choosing a Case for your AAC Device (with a Giveaway!)

This is part 3 of my series about choosing an AAC device. Click to read Part 1 (Apps vs Devices) and Part 2 (App Review).

If you choose a stand-alone device, chances are it comes with a built-in case. But if you choose a tablet with an AAC app as we did, you'll need to choose a case. In this post, I'll review three iPad cases. There are, of course, many many cases to choose from, and if you have a favorite, please do leave it in the comments.

When I looked into cases for our dedicated AAC iPad, I had several criteria for an ideal case.

First, it has to be durable. Of course, all cases have to protect, but because your AAC device will be coming with you everywhere, it is even more likely to be dropped, bumped, and generally treated more like sports equipment than a piece of expensive electronics.

Second, it has to be easy for the user to carry. Since many kids will be taking their devices to school, or even just around the house, it should have a carry handle and preferably a strap that will allow hands-free transportation.

Third, it should have a stand allowing the device to be upright on a table.

And finally, it should ideally amplify the sound loud enough to hear in a noisy environment like a restaurant.


Otterbox Defender
I have had an Otterbox Defender series case on "my" iPad since it became "our" (read: the kids') iPad.
Our iPad has survived many falls, throws, and even bites with this case. Food has been mashed on the screen, so I love that it has a built-in screen protector. Putting the case on the iPad does not require any screws, but connects well, and Moe has not ever gotten it off. The case separates into two parts, allowing the iPad to stand up in both landscape and portrait orientations, and Moe has no trouble (for better or worse) separating the two parts. Eventually (after well over a year), he did break the stand and the clips that hold the two parts together cracked. The Otterbox comes in many colors, and allows for easy distinction between devices if you have a non-AAC iPad in addition to the dedicated speech device. The case does not, however have a carry handle and is fairly bulky. It is moderately priced.

Stand in both portrait and landscape orientations
Built-in screen protector
Many colors
Replacement warranty

Clips and stand can break
No carry strap or handle

Cost: About $65 on Amazon.


This is the case that was recommended by our SLP and I see many kids carrying this case. It has a built-in handle and there are several accessories available, including a carry strap, wheelchair attachment, and bluetooth keyboard. It comes in two parts that separate and screw together. This ensures your child won't get the case off, but is also a pain if you have to open it. It has built-in speakers, making the case a little bulky, but also helps amplify the sound in noisier environments. The case comes in black or grey, but some customization via stickers or "skins" is available, which is nice for people who bring their device to school or a place where others may be using a device with the same case. (Our stickers are already starting to peel off.) There is also a nice slider that covers the home button, though Moe had no trouble figuring out how to open it.

There are a few issues with this case. The first is that the speakers need to be charged, so you have to plug two things in every night. The kickstand does not attach at the bottom to the case, so when you walk with it, it bounces against the case and is very annoying. You can put the case into the carry bag, but I got tired of taking the device in and out of the bag, which is a separate piece and likely to get lost. There is no built-in screen protector, so you need to use the kind that sticks on the screen. I don't think these protect as well, and they are hard to put on straight and without air bubbles. Finally, this case is very expensive. The case runs between $265-$345, depending on the accessories you choose.

Kickstand for standing upright on a table
Good amplification
Some customization
Lots of available accessories

Requires charging
No build-in screen protector
Sticker skins peel off easily

Cost: $265 standard, $345 bundle

GoNow case

GoNow for iPad and iPad Mini

The GoNow case is made by Attainment Company, which also makes the GoTalk NOW AAC app, and the GoTalk Express device. This case is light weight and seems to offer good protection, though does not include a screen protector. It comes in a silver color, has a built-in handle, and locations to attach a carry strap, though a strap is not included with the case. The case comes in two parts that must be screwed on, but the screws are attached to the case, so they don't get lost when taking the case apart. The case has a speaker which is designed to amplify the iPad sound acoustically, without electronics, so it doesn't need to be charged. There is also a switch on the front that magnetically locks and unlocks the device (though this doesn't work if you use your app in Guided Access mode, as I do). It does not have a kickstand, though I've been told one may be included in a future version. At $59, it is a relatively inexpensive option as well.

Relatively inexpensive
Acoustic amplification that doesn't require charging

No screen protector
No table stand

Cost: $59

We have stuck with the GoNow case, and with the addition of a stick-on screen protector and carry strap have found this to be a good option. I recently ordered a keyguard for the LAMP Words for Life App, which I think will be another nice addition. I highly recommend this case.

There are some other cool cases, including the Big Grips (reviewed by Adventures in Extreme Parenting) and the KidBox (which at under $20 could be an interesting option).


Attainment Company has offered to give away a GoNow case to one lucky winner! Just leave a comment below with your favorite iPad case. Contest will stay open through Monday and I will announce the winner on Tuesday!

(Update: The GoNow case is compatible with iPad 2 and later, as well as the iPad mini.)


  1. We have otterboxes on all of our ipad's and they are great! But Andrew's iPad he uses for communication has a case the school district provided that is terrible. I think it is homemade. We could really use this!

  2. We have a gumdrop case which we really, really like. It's taken a real beating and the ipad is still in pristine condition inside. The one we have has a hard shell underneath which slips over the ipad and holds a separate screen protector in place. The entire thing then has a rubberized sleeve with reinforced corners. It was on the pricier end (about $70 when we got it nearly 2 years ago) and does not have a stand or a handle. But we like it. The GoNow looks interesting. I like the speaker feature. That's HUGE for Nik's hearing issues.

  3. Our favorite case so far is the Griffin Survivor case. Although it has had to be replaced once, the iPad itself survived unscathed after hitting the tiles, and bouncing down the stairs.

  4. My son would love one of these. thanks for the detailed review!! We need a case w a handle so aaron can carry it around

  5. I am loving the two with handles, and would be a glad recipient of the GoNow case!

  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  7. The Otterbox Defender case on my sons' shared iPad is now 2 years old and has taken some serious abuse. The clips have all busted and we now have to use a rubber band to keep the cover on during transport, so I am totally in the market for a new case. I really like the look of this GoNow case, especially the built-in handle. Thanks for the helpful review!

  8. We love our Otterbox. It has even been thrown into other rooms and everything survived. However a handle and volume amplification would be wonderful.

  9. I've had great luck with the Otterbox!

  10. we love the otterbox. would love to give this a try...

  11. I love the GoNow case the handle is a great feature, would love to win it. My son uses the griffin survivor casa and it has taken a beaten but the ipad is still brand new inside. I bought a pink griffin for my ipad as Eric keeps stealing mine. Can you get the GoNow case in Canada?

  12. Our son also uses the LAMP Words for Life app. Right now he has a bright blue otterbox case. It's tough, but I would love to try the GoNow case with the built in speaker!

  13. Oh... that great to know.. I was looking for Personalized Ipad Cases ... As I want to buy one... Thanks for this info...


I love comments! Respectful disagreement always encouraged.


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