Stylus Options for iPad and iPhone Users: Do It Yourself | ATMac


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Directly touching the screen is a very easy access method for most people, and has many accessibility benefits, but for others it’s brought new accessibility challenges.This article is about custom and do-it-yourself options for styluses and pointers, including head pointers and mouth sticks.

The Need For Conductivity

Making your own stylus isn’t too hard, but there’s one principle you need to understand first: iPhones and iPads and most other touch-screen devices these days have what’s called “capitative touch screens”. The details don’t matter but the effect is that you need to have a continuous path for electricity to flow from some part of the user’s body – usually the skin is used but inside the mouth is fine too.
Everything in this picture - thread, yarn, fabric, and cotton, are made of conductive substances.
Everything in this picture – thread, yarn, fabric, and cotton, are made of conductive substances.
The amount of electricity is so tiny that you’ll never feel it, that same electricity flows from your fingertip to the screen every time you use your phone or tablet, so there’s no danger of being zapped or shocked. You just need to make sure there’s a something conductive all the way between the skin and the tip of the pointer. There are LOTS of options for making this conductive path. Wire is the most traditional thing for conductivity, but if that doesn’t suit your needs these are other options:
  • Aluminum foil. A piece from any regular roll of aluminium foil you’d buy in a supermarket will work just fine.
  • Conductive Tape, which is pretty much like foil but has adhesive on one side. Doesn’t matter what metal – copper, aluminium, anything else – and any width or thickness will do.
  • Conductive foam is especially good for making the tips of styluses because it will make good contact with the screen, if you aren’t using a commercial stylus tip.
  • Conductive sewing thread is effectively very thin soft wire, but because it’s very flexible and thin enough to be unobtrusive it can be useful in more situations.
  • Conductive fabric is what happens when you make fabric out of conductive thread, unsurprisingly.
  • Conductive pen or paint lets you just draw a path of conductivity, though I’m not sure how it would stand up to being rubbed by fingers.
Source: Stylus Options for iPad and iPhone Users: Do It Yourself | ATMac

About NCATP

The North Carolina Assistive Technology Program (NCATP) leads North Carolina's efforts to carry out the federal Assistive Technology Act of 2004. We promote independence for people with disabilities through access to technology. Visit our website at http://ncatp.org
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