2004 Conference Proceedings

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ADAPTIVE COMPUTER LAB TECHNIQUES FOR PROMOTING TECHNOLOGY INTERACTION WITH ADULTS AND SENIORS

Presenters
Sandra L Nalls
RCH Inc.
207 Skyline Blvd.
San Francisco, Ca. 94132
Phone: (415) 665-4100 ex. 232

In the session I will share successful adaptive computer lab programming strategies and techniques I gained from facilitating computer use for adults and seniors with physical and developmental challenges, and survivors of traumatic brain injury. My experience has been gleaned from twenty years in the Therapeutic Recreation field and ten years as a Computer Lab Specialist utilizing adaptive tools and devices and specialized software. I will demonstrate and explain our use of authoring software, customizable quizzes, activities and adaptive devices. These tool help participants who have education, cognitive re training, vocational, and recreational aspirations. Additionally, I will focus on our consumer oriented therapeutic recreation philosophy and share ways in which the use of funds is maximized.

The Therapeutic 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 and adaptive technology are successfully used to educate, recreate, encourage, and promote cultural identity for developmentally challenged adults and seniors and survivors of traumatic brain injury. At the RCH Therapeutic Adaptive Computer Lab we strive to make it a unique place where an individual's challenges are not a hindrance to technology access but merely a few minutes of technology/user interface time.

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, rehabilitation and vocation into their individual program plans. Examples of people who are accommodated include a senior citizen who wants to improve her literacy, a survivor of traumatic brain injury whose low motivation and limited physical ability have kept him from participating, and an adult with developmental delay who uses the computer to support his vocational goals.

In facilitating favorable computer sessions for adults with moderate to severe cognitive delay, customized activities infused with graphics, sound samples, personal photographs, and recorded voice are used to generate activities that are culturally diverse, engaging and motivate the participants to interact with the technology. Linda, a 40-year-old woman of Chinese decent activates a 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 labs photo albums or visually catch the experiences of other computer users. However, using software programmed with photo images of himself and an Integrated Touch Screen Larry has become an enthusiastic participant, making "choice", "kinesthetic interaction" and success 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 music and hearing their voices saying what they want to say - the way they want to say it!

A practice of making accommodations for thinking patterns and developmental delays allows the lab to make purchases that address and respond to a maximum of individual consumers needs. Educational software products like Intellipics and Switch Clicker3 are customized to serve participants who want to hear and see their favorite musical artist or those who prefer to communicate with friends and family via email. Our commercial software products in the form of thinking games, curriculum oriented tools, and activities for literacy include The Lost Mind of Dr. Brain, Living Books, First Keys to Literacy, and Slingo. All or our software products encourage cognitive interaction, promote recovery, stimulate learning and facilitate success.

Our adaptive and standard hardware products we use are integrated touch monitors, trackballs, Intellikeys, and a variety of switch types. These products maximize the use of funds and allow us to operate in a cost efficient manner because multiple users can benefit from access to the equipment. They along with hardware peripherals like microphones, scanners, external speakers, and headphones provide an opportunity for computer users to have a rich lab experience.

Our participant technological assessments are based on user potential rather than inability. Our integrated therapeutic recreation philosophy facilitates client-centered goals and objectives. Our hardware and software selections support our maximum usage focus in a cost effective manner. For all who seek computer access, the Adaptive Computer Lab strives to support access regardless of the individual's ability.


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