2004 Conference Proceedings

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USING SIMPLE SWITCH SOFTWARE TO PROVIDE OPPORTUNITIES FOR LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT

Presenter(s)
Melanie Jones
Inclusive Technology
Gatehead Business Park, Delph New Rd
Delph, Oldham, United Kingdom
Email: melanie@inclusive.co.uk

Very often it is difficult to meet the goals from a students IEP within group teaching sessions. As a result the student has to complete many isolated activities during the course of the day by being withdrawn from the class group. For example the student may be working towards an understanding of cause and effect as an objective for technology; and learning to name animal pictures as an objective for language development. Often, these activities are completed in isolation from the rest of the class.

The new SwitchIt! software from England incorporates cause and effect activities into topics that are commonly covered in the classroom such as weather, people who help us, farm animals and healthy living. As a result, assistive technology can be combined with developing other skills and integrated into other subject areas along with the rest of the class.

The SwitchIt! software has 3 levels of activity: flash cards, picture building and stories.

The flashcards are a new feature to develop discrimination skills and expressive language: the flashcards comprise clear images, large text, and the name of image is read to student. Picture building allows the student to use assistive technology to complete a picture. The stories are very simple (3-5 pictures) without text or narration. They develop sequencing, encourage prediction skills and promote emerging conversation. As a further extension to the activity, images from the program can be printed out. These can be used as

For students progressing beyond cause and effect, there is opportunity to make choices with the picture menu option, which allows students to choose the next activity from a pictorial palette. This can be done by mouse, roller ball, touch monitor or switches.

In addition to using readymade content personalized single switch activities can be created using Switch It! Maker. Photographs, clipart, symbols, or scanned images such as children's art work can be inserted to make very motivating personalized activities which are meaningful to the student.

The new Let's go series of software comprises very simple interactive talking books designed for students working beyond a cause and effect level. They provide opportunity for exploration, choice making, creative thinking, sequencing and discussion. Students with visual impairment or visual discrimination difficulties need programs that are very clear visually. The images are uncluttered and very simple, yet not babyish and appropriate for older students. The series currently includes Let's go to town and Let's go to the seaside.

These programs can be used on a one to one basis, or in group activities: data projectors are commonplace in many schools now, and it may be that a switch user amongst a group of students could be the one who has complete control in a classroom situation. These programs encourage a more inclusive classroom by offering access and content for all students.


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