2005 Conference Proceedings

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Bates Roger
Inclusive Technology
Gatehead Business Park
Oldham, Lancashire OL35BX, United Kingdom
Email: roger@inclusive.co.uk

This session considers various ways that pupils can use switches to control software and communication devices. It will show a wide range of fun and learning software that can help develop scanning and choice making skills by offering a planned progression from cause and effect through to one and two switch scanning.

It will also show how both one and two switch options can be used to introduce the student to the various skills needed for success in switch use. Auditory scanning prompts, turn taking and "away from the computer" activities will also be shown using simple communicators and computer software.

The main thrust of this presentation will be to offer tools and ideas that can be used to help your students become efficient switch users. The key to the presentation is to show how switch skills can be broken down into simple steps and to emphasize how important it is not to move the pupil on until each stage has been mastered.

The session will also show a wide range of software and devices that can be used to practice the different skills that come together to make for good switch use.

In order to progress to making choices with switches the student will need to have the ability to press their switch (es) at the right time. This involves a number of pre-requisites

• An understanding of the task
• The ability to press at the right time
• The desire to do this
• A motivating reward for their activity

The session will discuss a number of strategies and ideas for activities that can help establish these skills and enable them to be assessed. These include using "away from the computer" activities, simple communicator games, turn talking activities as well as simple computer games.

The presentation will then move on to showing software, communicator activities and off computer techniques that can be used to provide a wide range of skills practice leading to establishing choice making and scanning skills. Successful selection using scanning requires the student to be able to use a range of skills, which include

• The ability to press one or two switches at the appropriate time
• An understanding of the scan selection mechanism
• Be able to recognise the choices being offered (pictures, symbols, words etc.)
• The ability to understand auditory prompts if available or required
• The wish and motivation to carry out the tasks

The introduction of each of these skills should be approached with care, it is very important to assess the students understanding and mastery of each stage. The presentation with offer ways and ideas on how to make an assessment of this understanding and also suggest ways of providing learning opportunities to help consolidate each stage.

The importance of using "real" objects will be stressed and how simple scanning concepts can be developed using real things including toys, food, and a simple cutout scanning box. The next step will show ways that can then allow the student to make the same choices using the computer and simple communicators.

Using one or two switches
The software shown can be used with one switch in automatic scan or two switches in step-scan mode as well as providing an auditory scan option in some instances. The demonstration different ways in which the options of using one or two switches can be used to help students develop their scanning and choosing skills. This can be done by offering turn taking opportunities and by giving the student opportunities to experiment with selecting at their own speed. It will also be shown how using a step-scan mode can help in assessing the pupils understanding of the task and selection sets being used.

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