RANDOMIZING THROUGHOUT THE DAY: RANDOM SELECTION AND CREATIVE USES
use of sequential messaging as a communication strategy has become common
place. The ability to pre-record a series of messages and control the order in
which they are played back is essential to activities such as story telling,
and/or giving/following directions. But what about activities in which you want
to control the vocabulary set but not the play back order. We call this
strategy “random selection” and it has many application possibilities. We are
most familiar with this concept being applied when using a spinner. For
example, when using a spinner for a board game you have a controlled vocabulary
set (i.e. colors, numbers, etc) but once you spin the choice are out of your
control. If the spinner lands on the number 4, you only move 4 spaces even
though you really needed and/or wanted to move 6 to win.
let’s look at the concept of “random selection” as a voice output communication
strategy. There are now several communication devices that allow random
selection to be used with voice output. These include the Randomizer and the
VoicePal Levels both by Adaptivation. These devices allow you to record in a
series of messages. The messages could range from a single word to several
sentences—what is recorded will vary with the needs of the activity. With each
activation of the device one of the messages will play. The user will not know
until he hears the message which one has been selected.
For who and when is this concept appropriate? The “who” is easy—anyone! It is great for individuals with visual impairments. For example, individuals who can’t see the numbers on dice or the pictures on a spinner can now hear the selection, making it a very functional solution for more independent participation. There are also individuals in which having visual cues for all the possible choices available to them can be very confusing. For example, a child with autism may see that the spinner arrow is pointing to the block center but because they can still see the picture representing the music center will continue to insist that this is their choice. This might also be a solution for a child who always chooses the same activity at choice time and appears unwilling to change his routine or always picks the color red when painting. The devices used for Random selection can accommodate most physical disabilities through the use of external switches that can be interfaced as a switch port on the device.
“when” is also easy. There are endless numbers of activities that can quickly
and easily be incorporated into this strategy. We have already mentioned using
it like a dice or a spinner with colors, numbers, or any other visual cues like
are also every day functional uses for the classroom and other environments. It
can be used for activities such as taking attendance or picking team members.
For these activities you simply record in all the names of children
participating. When the device is activated the names will be played back in
random order requiring the children to listen closely for when their name is
called. You could also use this for activities in the classroom such as
assigning classroom jobs or selecting a classroom center (computer, blocks
etc.) This concept can also be used for literacy activities. These might
include things like sentence or story starters, mad libs, word family
activities, category games and sorting activities just to name a few.
Devices that offer random selection as a communication strategy are destined to become a standard and invaluable part of every assistive technology program.