2004 Conference Proceedings

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SOFTWARE SOLUTIONS FOR ASSESSING THE ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY NEEDS OF INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES

Presenters
Lorraine Cleeton & Gilbert Cleeton
St. Bonaventure University
Allegany, NY
Email:
lcleeton@hotmail.com
gclleton@hotmail.com

These two CD-ROMS address the needs of children with disabilities (irrespective of race, gender, religion, ethnic minority and social class) in respect to assistive technology, as according to the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA, 97) the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) team must consider the use of assistive technology devices and services when developing a child's IEP and deliver such services if a child requires them. The two CD-ROMs, Special Needs, Action Plans and Outcomes (SNAPOUT) and Packages to Outcomes (PACKOUT) have three goals: (i) Enable children with disabilities to assess their own assistive technology needs. (ii) Increase the number of individuals (e.g. children, parents, teachers and other school professionals such as speech therapists) improving their knowledge of assistive technology before a child's IEP meeting. (iii) Improve outcomes for children with disabilities by having the children make their own contributions--- through the use of and comments on the software and hardware they observe---as part of the assessment process.

Children with disabilities that use SNAPOUT/PACKOUT will be involved in the creation of a database that matches their disability to assistive software and hardware through the automated analysis of an assessment form included within the CD-ROMs. Both programs were written and hyperlinked using Microsoft Publisher 2000 and both contain assessment and feedback forms. SNAPOUT allows a user to find out what software and hardware are useful for his/her disability by featuring disability trees (a set of categories and levels of disability between which the user can choose. The aim is to lead users through the SNAPOUT program from general to specific needs, in categories of disability: for example, physical disabilities, in which an individual had difficulty using his/her hands might lead to a suggestion that 'switches' be used.

The program is easy to use and compatible with screen reading and speech recognition software making it accessible to children with high and low incidence disabilities. For example children who are non/poor readers and children who are blind will be able to have the text read to them by a screen reader.

PACKOUT is a software tool that was based on the findings of SNAPOUT, which showed that to address the needs of the user (a child with a disability), more distinct categories had to be established. The new categories in PACKOUT are: level of disability, age, level of computer literacy, and th joining of hardware and software as a solution. For example, a child aged ten having low computer literacy skills with muscular dystrophy, dyslexia, and a visual impairment would require one portable hardware solution and two software solutions. "Intellikeys', a portable keyboard could be placed on a wheelchair to enable the student to type with reduced effort, while 'TextHelp' and 'ZoomText ' Extra' software could be installed on the student's computer. The former is a word prediction program and the latter enlarges text. SNAPOUT and PACKOUT are quick, easy and self-explanatory instruments to be used by children, parents, teachers and other professionals involved in a child's assistive technology assessment.


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