2000 Conference Proceedings

Go to previous article 
Go to next article 
Return to 2000 Table of Contents

Solutions for Switch Users

Karen Traut

Switches and scanning provide access to the computer and learning for people with severe motor impairments. Switches provide input to the computer when more direct access methods, such as standard keyboard or mouse, are not physically or cognitively possible.

Learning is an active process, however, students with severe disabilities, often have to sit by passively while others interact with materials. The switch changes all that. Switch access to software can maximize cognitive development as well foster independence allowing students to work to their full potential.

Switch users need a range of software to motivate them to develop their ability to use a switch effectively as well as work at concept development. This presentation will introduce you to a variety of software programs published by IntelliTools that are available to switch users. These include: SwitchIt Software - a series of software program developed by Inclusive Technology and distributed by IntelliTools. Programs in the SwitchIt line have been especially designed for the beginning switch user.

Number Concepts 1 and MathPadt - two examples of switch accessible curriculum software that allow switch users to work on the same content material as other students in the classroom.

ClickIt!r - a software utility that enables you to create switch access to your favorite software programs.

Instant Access to Living Books - adaptations for IntelliKeysr and switch users of these popular software programs.

This presentation is designed with several goals in mind:

IntelliKeys has several advantages when used as a switch interface. Unlike dedicated switch interfaces, it can be used with a variety of learners. A switch user can work alongside an IntelliKeys or mouse user. Also, the switch user can gradually make the transition from the switch to IntelliKeys when he/she is ready for a new level of challenge.

Participants will have a chance to preview the SwitchIt! line of products designed to motivate young switch users to use a switch, improve their switch skills, and increase concept acquisition. Programs follow a cognitive learning sequence from cause-and-effect to more complex tasks and provide many custom options to meet the needs of different users. Available in both Macintosh and Windows platforms, SwitchIt! programs are accessible with IntelliKeys, a switch, and mouse. SwitchIt! software can also be used with any switch interface.

The SwitchIt! line includes the SwitchIt! Suite consisting of four programs:

Pictures, Patterns, Scenes, and Opposites; SwitchIt! Arcade Adventure; and SwitchIt! Early Math with Spider and Friends. In this presentation, we will look at SwitchIt! Scenes, SwitchIt! Arcade Adventure, and SwitchIt! Early Math.

SwitchIt! Scenes focuses on concept development and language acquisition. Although there is a single switch option, in the two-switch mode, the program is designed to practice turn-taking with a second student. The left switch must be pressed before the right switch can become active. The program includes an auditory prompt when a student does not press his/her switch, and a prompt for incorrect switch choices. SwitchIt! Scenes, and other programs in the SwitchIt! Suite, include a screen of Teacher Menu options. Using these options, you can select custom settings to meet the needs of different users.

SwitchIt! Arcade Adventure is a video-game style program for older switch users. It develops eye/hand coordination and problem solving skills. Students rescue Ziko, a space alien, who has landed on a deserted island. They help him repair his rocket, refuel, and take-off for home. Five levels of play allow students to advance from easier to harder activities. Arcade Adventure can be used with a switch, IntelliKeys, or a mouse.

SwitchIt! Early Math is a comprehensive math readiness program providing students with many opportunities to sort, match, count, draw, and much more. Spider and his friends are there to cheer students on when they complete a set of activities correctly. Early Math is accessible with a switch, IntelliKeys, or a mouse.

Participants will then have a chance to preview two full-featured curriculum software programs that are accessible to switch users. Number Concepts 1 and MathPad are both programs that go beyond simple cause and effect to teach essential academic skills. They support the NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics) standards and meet the needs of students with a variety of learning and physical disabilities. Both have build-in scanning for switch users, overlays for use with IntelliKeys, and provide access for mouse and standard keyboard users.

Number Concepts 1 is designed to work with Automatic Scanning as well as Step Scanning. Any item that can be accessed with an overlay or a mouse, is also accessible to a switch user. The default setting is Automatic Scanning. Users just press their switch to begin scanning, and once the desired area is highlighted, press again to select. In the Step Scanning mode, Switch 1 moves the user through the selection options, and Switch 2 is used to select. You can choose and save various switch options through the Teacher Options menu. It is also possible to use a mouse as a switch by selecting [shift]m to begin Dedicated Mouse Scanning. Click the mouse to begin scanning, and again to select. Return to normal operations, by pressing [esc].

Number Concepts 1 opens in the Question and Answer Mode where problems are randomly generated. Students develop skills in three areas: counting and numeration using numbers from 1 to 20; greater than and less than; and beginning addition and subtraction. In the Explore Mode, students can make up their own problems. Auditory support can be turned on or off.

MathPad, designed and developed by InfoUse and distributed by IntelliTools, is an electronic numbers processor that lets students do addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division problems directly on the computer. It's and ideal tool for students who have difficulty doing pencil and paper math, who need help navigating through an arithmetic problem, or who can benefit from formatting features such as multiple font sizes and colors. The program also offers auditory reinforcement. MathPad is especially useful for adapting textbook or worksheet problems that the class is working on, and enables switch users to do the same math problems as their peers. The program's built-in scanning enables users to choose between Step or Automatic scanning, adjust the speed of the scan, and select an auditory prompt.

While many software programs are educational and enjoyable, they are often not accessible to switch users. Participants will see howClickIt! can be used to create scanning set-ups for students with severe physical or cognitive disabilities. ClickIt! allows you to create Hot Spots that can be positioned on the screen to click on key parts of a software program. These Hot Spots are then linked through scanning. Hot Spots can be set-up to dynamically change as the screen changes. Sound can be added to provide auditory feedback as they scan. Participants will see how Hot Spots are created in a piece of commercial software, how scanning sounds can be added to Hot Spots, and how the three scanning overlays that come with the ClickIt! program can be used to provide switch access through IntelliKeys.

Lastly, participants will preview an Instant Access adaptation to a Living Books software program that has been made with ClickIt!. Instant Access adaptations enable switch and IntelliKeys users to access these delightful programs. Adaptations have been made for 16 Living Books software programs. These are now available on a single Mac/Win CD which can be installed on your computer. Once installed, ClickIt! recognizes when you are using a Living Books program and sends the appropriate overlay and scanning options. Three scanning options are available for use with any title: Direction Scan, Step Scan, and Cause-and-Effect Scan. While ClickIt is not needed to run Instant Access adaptations, it can be used to view and modify Hot Spots if desired.

As more and more resources are available to the switch user, the opportunities for learning and inclusion are significantly increased.

Go to previous article 
Go to next article 
Return to 2000 Table of Contents 
Return to Table of Proceedings

Reprinted with author(s) permission. Author(s) retain copyright.