2002 Conference Proceedings

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Sandra L Nalls
RCH Inc.
207 Skyline Blvd.
San Francisco, Ca. 94132
(415) 665.4100 ex. 232

In this session I will share the adaptive computer lab programming strategies and assessment techniques I have gained from facilitating the computer use for underserved and special populations. My experience has been gained from twenty years in the Therapeutic Recreation field and six years as a computer specialist utilizing adaptive techniques for people with physical, developmental, and emotional disabilities. I will demonstrate authored grids from Switch Clicker 3 and customized Intellipics quizzes and activities. Additionally I will focus on the lab's consumer oriented therapeutic recreation philosophy as it relates to users with educational and rehabilitation desires and ways in which the lab is supported and funded. The following are some examples of persons who use the adaptive computer lab on a weekly basis and some reasons why the lab is considered so special.

Michael, a teenager, wants to look up his favorite pop music groups on the Internet. Since searching for Jay Z, and Limp Biscuit require character entries into a query field, he must rely on his letter recognition abilities thereby strengthening his pre-reading skills.

The Knights of Columbus Adaptive Computer Lab at RCH Inc., (formerly Recreation Center for the Handicapped), in San Francisco, California has a unique program that may influence other adaptive computer labs in reaching special populations. Authoring techniques are used successfully to educate, recreate, encourage, and promote cultural identity for single, and two switch teen and adult consumers.

The lab's basis for success lies in RCH's integrated therapeutic recreation philosophy. This philosophy accommodates lab users who want to incorporate aspects of education and rehabilitation into their individual program plans. Examples of this accommodation include a senior citizen who wants to improve her reading skills, a survivor of traumatic brain injury who wants to improve his short-term memory, and a teen in transition who practices money skills.

We also facilitate computer sessions for adults with severe cognitive delay. Clicker 3 and Intellipics activities infused with Internet graphics, sound samples, photographs, and recorded voice are used to generate activities that are culturally diverse, and that motivate the consumers to interact with the technology. Linda, a 40-year-old woman of Chinese decent activates a Switch Clicker3 cell and smiles in anticipation. The cell she selects is one that she helped customize with a picture of the Great Wall of China, her voice, and a sound sample from Dance of the Wu Yi nationality.

Larry, deaf since birth, recognizes no benefit in the auditory capabilities of computers or the eye hand coordination they require. He would much rather flip through the lab photos or visually catch the experiences of other computer users. However, using Intellipics programmed with photo images of himself and an Integrated Touch Screen Larry has become an enthusiastic participant, making "choice" and "kinesthetic interaction" part of his adaptive computer lab experience. Lab users delight in seeing images of themselves and familiar cultural images on the screen. They also respond well to ethnic music and hearing their voices saying what they want to say - the way they want to say it!

A practice of making accommodations for cognitive patterns and adaptations for developmental delays allows the lab to address and respond to individual consumers needs. Some of the specialized educational products used for this purpose are Intellipics, Switch Clicker3, Fun with 100 words and, First Keys. Our over-the-counter commercial software products in the form of thinking games, curriculum oriented tools, and activities for creative expression include The Lost Mind of Dr. Brain, Mindscape World Atlas & Almanac, and Gryphon Bricks. The aforementioned encourage cognitive interaction, promote recovery, stimulate learning and facilitate success.

Adaptive and standard hardware products like integrated touch monitors, trackballs, and a variety of switch types are also used. They along with hardware peripherals like microphones, scanners, external speakers, and headphones provide the opportunity for computer users to have a rich and satisfying lab experience.

With consumer assessments based on user potential rather than on disability and client-centered goals and objectives, we strive to make the KOC Adaptive Computer Lab a place where an individual's challenges are merely a few minutes of technology/user interface time, not a hindrance to technology access.

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