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by Holly Cooper

For students with visual impairments we typically use assistive tech to:

  • Modify presentation of learning media to compensate for sensory and motor deficits (such as screen magnification, voice output, and braille translation, switch activated software)
  • Facilitate interaction with peers and others
  • Provide opportunities for recreation and leisure activities
  • Practice and enhance performance of cognitive concepts
  • Practice and enhance performance of vocational activities
  • Assist with activities of Daily Living

Hardware

Low Tech Devices

Low tech devices can give kids great opportunities for play, interaction with peers, ability to partially participate in activities by using electric appliances, and early experiences with augmentative communication devices.

Let's take a look at some switches, interfaces and other products you might be interested in.  Sources for purchasing these items are in your handout.

  • Ablenet: switches, powerlink
  • Don Johnston: Switch Interface
  • Enabling Devices: Take N Talk

Switch Accessible Software

Switch accessible software can allow kids with disabilities to practice concepts and skills.  There are now a multitude of software games and activities available for kids at the cause/effect level.  Software packages that that reinforce skills like matching and learning pre-academic and academic concepts that are switch accessible and accessible for blind and visually impaired users are harder to find, but getting better.

Cause/Effect

Free:

  • Senswitcher
  • Northern Grids for Learning
  • (other sources are in your handout)

Commercially Produced:

  • RJ Cooper: Rad Sounds, others
  • Judy Lynne Software: Cause Effect Cinema, others

Academic and Pre-academic Concepts

  • Judy Lynne Software: Match It, Visual Motor Skills
  • RJ Cooper: Early and Advanced Switch Games
  • Attainment Company: Books on CD: Grooming for Life, and others
  • Laureate Learning: Nouns & Sounds (a real winner, concepts for kids functioning at 24-48 month levels, voice output, auditory scanning, Wow!)

Talking Books

Switch accessible talking books are great.  They can give students with disabilities the following opportunities:

  • Opportunities to participate in literature based instruction
  • Opportunities to participate in a shared activity with a peer
  • Opportunities to access language experience stories about real events in their lives
  • Opportunities to review steps in a activity they are learning
  • Opportunities to practice switch use in a functional context with content meaningful to them

It's pretty easy to make switch accessible talking books Using Power Point or Clicker 4.  I'll demonstrate one made with Power Point.  Included in your handout are tutorials on making books.  For a tutorial on making one with Clicker 4, see the resources list.  After the overview, we'll come back and work our way through a page of a talking book in Power Point.

  • PowerPoint
  • Clicker 4

Clicker 4

I'll show you some examples of what Clicker 4 does.  (See my Clicker 4 handout) It's got a great built in tutorial that will walk you through the steps of creating communication and choice grids.  You can make simple choice making grids, communication grids, grids to write sentences and stories, and of course, talking books.

Reach Software

(I may run out of time and skip this, for more info, see Applied Human Factors on the Resources list.  They have a free demo you can download and try out.)  This is a software package that features a switch accessible on-screen keyboard.  You can customize you own keys so that they perform two or three keystrokes to open an email program or perform other functions.

Making a Talking Book

See the tutorial provided for assistance.  We will work through setting up a couple of pages.  The source for the tutorial is listed on your resource list.