2002 Conference Proceedings

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VELOCITY: PHRASE BASED DYNAMIC DISPLAY FOR THE SCHOOL-AGE COMMUNICATOR

Presenter: Christine Scally M. A. CCC-SLP
Organization: Clark County School District
Address: 1330 Challenge Lane
City: Las Vegas
State/Province/Region: NV
Zip/Postal Code: 89110
Country: USA
Day Phone: (702) 799-2372
Fax: (702) 799-2379
Email: spin@lvcm.com

Introduction

Velocity is a dynamic display configuration developed exclusively for Enkidu Research, available on the Tablet Portable Impact. It has an extensive content which is phrase based and situation based with easy, efficient access to generative communication tools, current topical comments, and conversational control messages. It is designed for easy flow between topics within a situation. Its visual design and organization features make the system fast, easy to learn, and easy to use. Extensive support materials contained in the manual assist with instruction, content personalization, content maintenance, and content expansion. These materials are designed specifically for school based support teams and parents.

Development

The developer of Velocity has several years experience supporting students with dynamic display devices both as a direct service provider and as a district level consultative support provider. The initiative to develop Velocity emerged from experience with the devices of several students. There were two general types of setups: Primarily word or letter-based systems focused on unique message generation with some whole utterances (usually social phrases, identification statements and help requests); and primarily utterance-based systems, with some access to word or letter-based message generation tools.

School staff supporting students with primarily word or letter-based systems frequently expressed the need for phrases and sentences that allowed the student to quickly initiate interactions or answer questions in class. These students could construct intelligible 3-5 word sentences, but were not communicating effectively in any school environments.

Students using utterance-based devices were experiencing success in a limited number of situations, usually classroom activities with very constrained vocabulary sets (such as calendar) and making food choices. As support teams attempted to keep up with their students' growing and changing language needs, these systems quickly became unruly, involving multiple master screens, pages chaining off into the distance, dead ends, and vocabulary that was so hard to find it might as well not be there. This same problem emerged as utterance sets were added to the word-based systems. In addition, as greater programming support was required, instructional support decreased due to the time constraints of the service providers.

Regardless of how the device was set up, the content and organization were difficult for students and their support staff to learn and the task of communicating with the device was laborious. When speaking, the students' energies were directed toward operating the device and determining the location of vocabulary, not toward getting their point across. Device-mediated communication, even when that was the goal of all persons involved, was frustrating far more often than it was enjoyable or even effective. The goal of Velocity's development was to create a dynamic display communication system that was easy to learn and use, and was supportable within a school setting.

Key Features of the Configuration

Visual design elements were carefully considered to ease learning of the system. Informative button labels provide cues to the content for teachers and classroom assitants so that they can provide prompting to the student as necessary. Consistent application of color and other visual features within the system provide for predictibility of button functions. Application of Velocity schemes within the Portable Impact tablet provide automatic maintenance of the color codes.

The navigation panel on each situation page provides single tap access to comments which are not situation dependant. Variable Navigation to monthly-organized topical utterances assists with providing current content.

Visit buttons within the situation page provide expansive communication options for each situation. The configuration is tightly organized so that no page in the system is more than three keystrokes from any other page.

Support Materals and Lesson Plans

The Velocity manual is designed as a support document for school teams. Specific instructions are provided for editing the default content to personalize the device. Schedules and instructions are provided for keeping the device current. Estimates of time requirements are provided for each task to assist with scheduling.

Fifteen learn-as-you-teach lesson plans are provided. The lesson plans are designed to require little or no preparation. Each plan highlights the content of Velocity while teaching device operation and building language skills. IEP goals are suggested, and each lesson includes assignments for putting new skills to work in real situations. These plans are also designed for use as self-guided tutorials by support personnel.


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