2001 Conference Proceedings

Go to previous article 
Go to next article 
Return to 2001 Table of Contents

Making Age-Appropriate Cause/Effect Programs for Adults with Significant Disabilities

Barbara E. Bromley, Ph.D.
College of Education and Integrative Studies
Cal Poly Pomona

It is often very difficult to find age-appropriate software for adults who need switch-activated cause-effect activities. Using IntelliPics, you can make your own software and customize it to the preferences, hobbies, and activities of each individual!


  1. Collect photos, clipart, etc., which is relevant to the activity or to the person the activity is for, e.g., photos from photo albums, photos from the Internet, photos from commercially available photo libraries, clipart that is age-appropriate. For example, one young man loves trains. I searched the web for photos of trains (that were not copyright protected) and downloaded them onto a zip drive.
  2. Do some advance preparation. Organize the photos in the order you wish them to appear in the activity. Prepare your captions or sound that will accompany each photo. If you are putting your photos to music, identify which music will go with which photos.
  3. Download or scan photos into the computer. Store them on a zip drive, CD, or hard drive (if you have enough space).

Create a New Activity

  1. Open Intellipics. Close all previously opened activities, if necessary (go to the File menu and select Close All).
  2. Choose New from File menu.
  3. Go back to File menu and select Save.
  4. Name your activity and click on the Save button.

Customize the Activity Screen

  1. In Intellipics, select the Options menu. Choose Activity Preferences.
  2. Under Palette Display, go to the Visible Palettes box. Deselect all items. You can keep Picture Items if you want to see the pictures on the activity screen.
  3. Click inside the Caption Font Size box and change the font size to 36. You can modify this once you see how large/small the print is on the screen.
  4. Change your window color to coordinate with your activity. Click on General.
  5. Click on Window Color. Select your preferred color and Click OK.
  6. Click on the Category pop-up menu, and select Click Response. Make sure that Goes to next item is selected. This is the setting to use when using a single switch or IntelliKeys. If you want the computer to ignore extraneous repeated clicks of the switch, make sure Is Ignored is selected.
  7. Click OK again.

Create a New Picture Item

  1. You should have your photo or clipart program open (e.g., Adobe PhotoShop or Adobe PhotoDeluxe) and your photos ready (e.g., the zip disk in the drive).
  2. In Intellipics, select the Create menu.
  3. Choose Picture Items.
  4. Now you will be going back and forth between Intellipics and your picture program. In your picture program, open the photo/picture you wish to put in the picture item.
  5. Select the photo. In the Edit menu (or using the right mouse button), click on Copy.
  6. Toggle to the Intellipics program.
  7. Click on New. (You are in the New/Edit Picture Item window).
  8. Name the Picture Item (NOTE: Intellipics organizes all picture items in alphabetical order. Therefore, if there is a specific order in which you want the pictures to appear, preface the name of each picture with a letter, e.g., “a-train”, “b-engineer”, etc.).
  9. Under the Edit menu, select Paste. The graphic you copied should paste into the window. If it doesn’t, your graphic may be too big. Try going back to the graphic program and reducing the size of your graphic, then copying and pasting it again.

Add Sound to the Picture Item

  1. First you must set your computer to record from the appropriate source. For Windows computers:
    a. From the Task bar, choose Settings, and click on Control Panel.
    b. Double click on Multimedia.
    c. Click over the Recording microphone icon. A small box titled Recording Control should pop up with two columns, a CD and a Microphone column.
    d. At the bottom of these columns is a box labeled Select. Select the appropriate box, depending on whether you are recording from a CD or the microphone. Close all control panel windows.
  2. Now go back to Intellipics and click on Sound (you are in the Edit box for the picture you have just pasted in). There are two ways to record sound: synthesized speech or digitized speech.
    a. For synthesized speech, select the radio button and type in the letters/words/phrases you wish the computer to speak. Click on Play to check what you have typed.
    b. For digitized speech, you can import sounds from another program. Select the Import radio button and find the file you wish to import. Click on Open. You will be returned to the Intellipics Edit window, and your sound will be highlighted in the Digitized box. Click on Play to hear your sound.
    c. For new digitized sounds, you can record directly from a CD or you can use the computer’s microphone.
  3. To record a new sound from a CD or the microphone, click on New. You’ll be in the Record New Sound window.
  4. Insert on your CD and start Play, or prepare your microphone.
  5. Select Record when you are ready to record the sound. Record! Select Stop when you are finished recording. Select Play to listen to your recording.
  6. If you are unhappy with your recording, you can redo it by recording over it. Select Record again and record over it.
  7. Click Save when it is to your satisfaction.

Add a Movement

IntelliPics provides two methods for adding movement to your pictures: using one of the built-in motions or creating your own with the movement editor. In this presentation, we will choose movements from the built-in selections and they will automatically work with your activity.

  1. Select the Movement icon.
  2. Select the movement you want by clicking on it.
  3. You can change the movement speed by using the slider bar below the Movement Speed.

Add a Caption

You can add a caption to a Picture Item to provide the user additional visual feedback and to promote literacy. Captions can be words, phrases, or sentences.

  1. Click on the Extras Icon.
  2. Make sure that the Caption tab is selected.
  3. Type in your caption. Consider whether you want to have your caption identical to your recording (so the person can listen to and read the caption at the same time) or if it will be shortened or different in some way (e.g., you may not want to caption all reprises of the chorus of a particular song!).
  4. Proofread for correct spelling!
  5. Click on Done.
  6. Click Done again to return to the start-up screen.

Congratulations, you have completed one Picture Item. For each photo/picture you wish to add to your activity, follow the steps above. Don’t forget to Save as you work!

When your picture items are completed, go to the Options menu. Under the Category pop-up menu, select Click Response. Make sure that Goes to next item is selected.

Hint: You can click on Done at any time to test your items. After you test an item and you are ready to continue, go to the Create menu and select Picture Items. You can edit and re-edit until you are satisfied.


Adapted from the Intro to Intellipics Win Tutorial, 12/98, IntelliTools, Inc.

Go to previous article 
Go to next article 
Return to 2001 Table of Contents 
Return to Table of Proceedings

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