2002 Conference Proceedings

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CONDUCTING COMPLETE AAC AND COMPUTER ACCESS EVALUATIONS

John Standal
Assistive Technology, Inc
7 Wells Avenue
Newton, MA 02459
Voice/Message: (617) 641-9000
Fax: (617) 641-9191

Assistive Technology, Inc. (ATI) develops innovative solutions to enhance the lives of people with disabilities. ATI is the only company that produces EvaluWare, a software and user's guide solution that helps Speech/Language Pathologists, Occupational Therapists, educators and other professionals identify the best computer access methods and ideal Alternative and Augmentative Communication device setups for their clients and students.

EvaluWare combines several types of assessments into one package. The software program contains 350 interactive screens that lead the clinician through a series of diagnostic activities to assess motor, looking, listening and other related skills like language comprehension. These skills are needed for successful communication and computer access.

Motor skills are assessed through identifying the learner's:
* Appropriate input method - touch screen, mouse and keyboard, alternative pointer or switch
* Ideal settings for that access method
* Preferred spacing of objects on the screen

Looking skills are assessed through identifying the learner's:
* Ideal visual target - select size of square target, thickness of border and text size
* Optimum number of targets per screen
* Type of image used as the target - select photographs, color symbols, line drawings or text
* Favored target environment - items can be displayed in a contextual scene or on in a grid on a plain background
* Contrast preferences for foreground and background color selection
* Ability to follow a moving target

Listening skills are assessed through identifying the learner's:
* Preferred type of feedback - up to six different sounds are available to identify that a target has been selected
* Preferred gender of voice - choose from three male, three female, boy, girl or three fun voices
* Preferred type of voice - there is recorded human speech as well as computer-generated voices

Other related skills are assessed through identifying the learner's:
* Ability to use an on-screen keyboard
* Readiness to use word prediction software
* Ability to answer multiple choice questions based on a screen presented

In addition to performing a complete evaluation, professionals can help learners improve their skills with EvaluWare's practice activities. There are practice screens to help develop each of the four skills identified, as well as word prediction abilities.

With EvaluWare, professionals can also create customized screen grids for learners. The Build a Screen feature allows for specialized grids based on the specifications identified in the skill assessments. Professionals can designate input methods, level of representation, target size and number of target.

The reporting function of EvaluWare is an essential and unique feature. There are two ways to complete a report: on-screen or on paper. The software allows professionals to keep track of the specific preferences for many learners in the program. Professionals can develop reports on-screen, print and save them, and even complete them later. The user's guide provides a printed evaluation report, ready to be filled in with the needs of a learner.

EvaluWare provides easy and effective solutions to potential roadblocks in the evaluation process. Professionals can maintain the learner's interest while continuing their evaluation with the Fun and Game feature. This section gives the learner the opportunity to practice input skills in fun and engaging environments. There's a treasure hunt to find objects in the on-screen house, short movies and cartoons and music from the jukebox. In an especially fun activity, the learner gets the chance to tell the professional what to do!

EvaluWare also includes strategies for adapting standardized test to make them universally accessible. The ready-made screens can help administer modified tests on the computer.

As a comprehensive evaluation tool, EvaluWare is designed to support the following access methods (through an extensive set of preference options): standard and alternative keyboard, mouse, joystick, trackball, touch screen (additional hardware may be necessary), switch (additional hardware may be necessary) and alternative pointer (additional hardware may be necessary).

ATI's Evaluation Kit is a complete solution for professionals who need to conduct evaluations on a piece of equipment that is both a speech generating device and a fully functioning computer. The combination of the Gemini AAC device, EvaluWare software, four different key guards and a floppy disk drive help ensure universal access to communication devices and computers for all learners.


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