If you’re the betting sort, it’s pretty safe to put your money on the fact that most children don’t like homework. Like you-just-hit-the-jackpot safe.
But doing homework can be even more dreadful for kids who:
A) Struggle with penmanship
B) Have trouble getting their thoughts on paper
C) Simply hate writing
D) All of the above
And those are exactly the pain points behind SnapType, an app that allows students to easily complete any school worksheet on an iPad or tablet. SnapType was created by husband-and-wife team Ben and Amberlynn Slavin, DreamHost customers based in Cupertino, California, and developer Brendan Kirchner.
Amberlynn came up with the idea for SnapType during her occupational therapy graduate fieldwork. She worked with a fifth-grade student who was diagnosed with dysgraphia, a learning disability that made his handwriting extremely messy.
His occupational therapist tried many things to help him improve his penmanship, but nothing worked. The therapist even scanned worksheets into a computer so the student could type in answers to questions, but it was a very time-consuming process. And it was a frustrating experience for the student to get left behind in class simply because he couldn’t complete the worksheets with the rest of his peers.
“Amberlynn had the idea to take a picture of his worksheet using an iPad so he could type his answers on the screen,” Ben says. “She searched the app store, but there was nothing available. Well, there were a few apps, but they were designed for business people and were too complex for a child to use. She sketched out the idea on a napkin and shared it with the student’s occupational therapist, who loved it!”
Napkin in hand, Amberlynn put together a detailed mockup of the app and worked with a developer to build it. A few weeks later, SnapType was born.
“The student’s occupational therapist, teacher, and parents are thrilled,” Ben says. “However, the real joy comes from seeing him use the app. It is easy for him to take a picture of a worksheet and use the iPad keyboard to answer questions. He no longer falls behind in class and is more confident about his abilities.”
Best in Class
So how exactly does SnapType work? Take a picture of any school worksheet and then tap to add text.
Yep, it was purposely designed to be that simple.
“The population we’re serving is often struggling in a learning environment that wasn’t designed for them,” Ben adds. “Every week we receive messages from parents, teachers, and therapists saying how their students are thriving with the help of SnapType. It’s incredibly humbling and motivating when we hear their stories. We’re so happy to be a part of their success.”
Out of Site
When the time came to choose a web hosting provider for SnapType, Ben knew DreamHost was the answer. SnapTypeApp.com is the home for parents, teachers, therapists, and students to learn about the assistive technology app.
But the way Ben learned about DreamHost was a literal journey.
While preparing to produce a how-to guide and film for motorcycling enthusiasts, Ben took a ride from the United States all the way to the southernmost point in Argentina.
“On that ride, I met a Canadian rider, who was a talented web developer and someone I could go to for internet advice. When I asked him, he answered without hesitation: DreamHost. He said it would be really simple to set up a WordPress site that detailed the project and included a way for people to purchase the DVD. He was right! It was easy, and I’ve been using DreamHost to host all my websites ever since.”
In the case of SnapType, it’s a WordPress site that uses a premium theme.
“Setting up a WordPress site with a custom domain was really easy,” he says. “The one-click install for WordPress was very fast. I didn’t have to be an IT expert to get running on DreamHost. As I continued to dive into the internet world, I created other sites on DreamHost.”
Part of the reason? The real-life support.
“Whenever I have a question about how to do this or that, the DreamHost customer service team is always there to help me get sorted out quickly. It probably sounds silly, but I like that they talk to me like a friend. Even when I’ve had to ask for step-by-step instructions, they were always kind and patient.”
And for SnapType, the future is bright with Ben and Amberlynn at the helm.
“Our dream is to break down the barriers to education,” he says. “We built SnapType to help just one child, and now it’s been downloaded more than 1.5 million times and used by students in more than 50 countries around the world. It’s amazing and humbling that SnapType has been able to make such a positive impact on so many students and families. Our users love SnapType and continue to ask for more functionality. We’re excited to continue to develop SnapType to make it even more powerful and to help students thrive.”