2003 Conference Proceedings

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Kathie Marina, M.Ed., O.T. (C.),
Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children
3644 Slocan Street
Vancouver, B.C.
V5M 3E8
Phone: 604-453-8300, local 8345
Email: kmarina@cw.bc.ca

Susan Widera, M.S., S-LP(C)
Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children
3644 Slocan Street
Vancouver, B.C.
V5M 3E8
Phone: 604-453-8300, local 8250
Email: swidera@cw.bc.ca


This lecture will outline a literature review and low-tech approach to teach scanning with the long-term goal to progress to scanning on high tech devices.

Children who are unable to use the standard keyboard often use indirect access, scanning, to access technology. Based on clinical experience and themes in the literature in assistive technology, it is apparent that there is a need for a systematic approach for teaching young children how to scan. Access to technology is important for children to promote independence, volition and a positive self -esteem. Scanning can be used with both low and high technology. Low-tech can be defined as simple non-electronic activities and battery operated toys. High-tech devices are computers and voice output communication aides which are electronic and battery operated. Non technical communication systems can also be accessed by partner assisted scanning, a skill that needs to be taught but uses scanning principals. It has been observed that when children have been provided high-tech devices there is the expectation to use them competently. Many children, however, have not learned the basic skills needed to access the devices, namely scanning. Consequently they become frustrated with their inability to use the device and eventually, the device is abandoned. Device abandonment is expensive in terms of the device expense, human energy to implement the device and loss of individual potential (Phillips & Zhao, 1993). Our clinical experience is consistent with evidence reported in the literature. Phillips (as cited in Blackstone, 1992) estimates that one third of devices are abandoned due to the complexity of the devices, lack of improvement in the child's functional abilities and the large amount of assistance required from another person. In addition, Lesar (1998) reports lack of education to community teams is a major barrier to implementing assistive technology. Furthermore, there is an identified need in the literature to provide, support and evaluate the functional outcomes in the field of assistive technology (Bryen, Slesaransky & Baker, 1995, DeRuyter, 1995, Ko, McConachie & Jolleff, 1998, Light, 1999, Smith, 1996). The purpose of this presentation is to share our team's hypothesis which is that children who learn to scan using low-tech activities can successfully transfer their scanning abilities to high-tech devices.

This presentation will share a project that is currently under development at Sunny Hill that is designed to provide the children and community teams with materials (activity suggestions, toys, PCS pictures, simple scanning voice output communication aids) and information (scanning achievement hierarchy, step by step teaching strategies) to teach scanning. The short-term goal is for them to learn the fundamental skills required to scan using low-tech activities. The long-term goal is for the children to successfully progress to scanning on their high tech devices where success is defined as 80 % accuracy (Light, 1993). Outcomes of the project implementation will also be shared.


Angelo, J. (1992). Comparison of three computer scanning modes as an interface method for persons with cerebral palsy. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 46 (2)217-222.

Bryen, D.N., Slesaransky, G & Baker, D.B. (1995). Augmentative communication and Empowerment Supports: A Look at Outcomes. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 11 (2), 79-88.

DeRuyter, F. 1995. Evaluating Outcomes in Assistive Technology: Do We Understands the Commitment? Assistive Technology, 7 (1) :3-16.

Goossens', C. & Crain, S. S. (1992). Utilizing switch interfaces with children who are severely physically challenged. Austin: Pro-Ed.

Horn, E. M. , & Jones, H. A. (1996). Comparison of two selection techniques used in augmentative and alternative communication, Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 12, 23-31.

Horn, E., Jones, H. A., & Hamlett, C. (1991). An investigation of the feasibility of a video game system for developing scanning and selection skills. Journal of the Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps, 16 (2), 108-115.

Ko, M. L. B., McConachie, H. & Jolleff, N. (1998). Outcome of recommendations for augmentative communication in children. Child: Care, Health and Development, 24 (3), 195-205.

Koester, H. H., & Levine, S. P. (1994). Learning and performance of able-bodied individuals using scanning systems with and without word prediction. Assistive Technology, 6(1), 42-53.

Lesar, S. (1998). Use of assistive technology with young children with disabilities: Current status and training needs. Journal of Early Intervention, 21 (2), 146-159.

Light, J. 1999. Do augmentative and alternative communication interventions really make a difference? The Challenges of Efficacy Research. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 15 (1), 13-24.

Light, J. (1993). Teaching automatic linear scanning for computer access: A case study of a preschooler with severe physical and communication disabilities. Journal of Special Education Technology, 12 (2), 125-134.

Mirenda, P. & Buekleman (1998). Augmentative and alternative communication: Management of severe communication disorders in children and adults. 2nd ed. Baltimore: Paul H. Brooks.

Mizuko, M. & Esser, J. (1991). The effect of direct selection and circular scanning on visual sequential recall. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 34, 43-48.

Mizuko, M., Reichle, J., Ratcliff, A., & Esser, J. (1994). Effects of selection techniques and array sizes on short-term visual memory. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 10, 237-244.

Peterson, K. Reichle, J., & Johnston, S. S. (2000). Examining preschoolers' performance in linear and row-column scanning techniques. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 16, 27-36.

Phillips, B. (1991). Technology abandonment: From the consumer point of view. Washington, D.C.:Request publication (as cited by Blackstone, Augmentative Communication News, 1992:5(3), 1).

Phillips, B, and Zhao H. 1993. Predictors of assistive technology abandonment. Assistive Technology, 5:36-45.

Ratcliff, A. (1994). Comparison of relative demands implicated in direct selection and scanning: Considerations from normal children. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 10, 67-74.

Smith, R.O. (1996). Measuring the Outcomes of Assistive Technology: Challenge and Innovation. Assistive Technology, 8(2), 71-81.

Szeto, A. Y. J., Allen, E. J., & Littrell, M. C. (1993). Comparison of speed and accuracy for selected electronic communication devices and input methods. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 9, 229-242.

Venkatagiri, H. S. (1999). Efficient keyboard layouts for sequential access in augmentative and alternative communication. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 15, 126-134.

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