Monday, September 26, 2011

Flash on your iPad!

Did you know that for just 99 cents you can use Flash based websites on an iOS device?  That includes great games for those with significant special needs like those at Shiny Learning and Help Kidz Learn! The Puffin Browser works on all iOS devices, iPad, iPod and iPhone.  I don't know how it works, but using it to visit websites allows you to see and interact with Flash items! (Admittedly with a bit of a lag.)  For switch based games the entire touch screen becomes your switch and the game becomes even more fun!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

New AAC Device - The Papoo Touch

 The Papoo Touch is a unique new communication device.  It combines text and symbol based communication with multi-media capabilities.  The Papoo Touch, from France, runs board sets from The Grid 2, a popular AAC program.  It also provides text-to-speech through entering text.  Text can be entered through typing or by writing on the screen with a finger.  As for it's multi-media capabilities they include music and video players as well as video games.  It is also multilingual working in English, French, Italian, Spanish and German.

The Papoo Touch weighs just under 5 ounces.  It is 6 by 3.5 inches and about 1 inch thick.  It can be operated with one or two hands using the touch screen or a switch.  It comes with a USB cable for syncing to a PC, Mac or Linux computer and for charging as well as a neck cord.  The volume from the built in speakers can reach up to 80 feet.  The batteries last for 3 hours of speech and 48 hours on standby.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Carrie Communication Cards

Carrie Communication Cards are a new product coming out from Super Duper in December 2011. They are color-coded 2.5 x 2.25 inch plastic cards that use the SymbolStix Symbol Set.  They have a pre-punched hole for carrying on a key ring.  One side of the card has a color symbol and English word, the other a gray-scale symbol.

These cards will be useful for instruction, cueing, games and  more in the classroom.  They will be especially useful for working with students who are learning SymbolStix Based AAC Programs like a Tobii, Proloquo2Go, TouchChat or Saltillo's Chat Series.

My only wish (besides having 2 or 3 sets for my classroom) is that Super Duper add a "Core Vocabulary" set of cards to the 22 other sets that come in Carrie Communication Cards.  And maybe that the cards be magnetic.

Carrie Communication Cards will retail at $249.99.

(The information below is taken directly from the Super Duper page.)
The 22 card categories include:
  • Animals
  • Around the Home
  • Body Parts
  • Calendar & Time
  • Clothing
  • Colors/Shapes/Numbers/Letters
  • Descriptions
  • Drinks
  • Food
  • Grooming
  • Money
  • OT/PT Words
  • People
  • Places
  • Safety
  • School
  • Social
  • Sports
  • Toys
  • Transportation
  • Verbs
  • Weather
Carrie Communication Cards includes:
  • 740 color-coded cards (2"x 2¼")
  • Instruction Booklet with ideas for use
  • 5 key chains with rings
  • Black briefcase for easy transportation

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Free Online Switch Activities - Updated 11/9/2015

Updated 11/09/2015

This is an update of the post listing online switch activities for learners with multiple or significant special needs. The activities listed are chosen because they can be used with switches, they are simple and they are enjoyable. The activities listed are free. Some activities may require set up by an assistant before switch use. Although care has been taken not to include switch activities with any violence or graphic images teachers and others still need to check activities for age and general appropriateness before use.

Cause and Effect (and Press to Play):
Single Switch Scanning/Timed Single Switch Response (sites may include some cause and effect games as well):
Two Switches (unless otherwise noted you must click in the area of the game and then use tab and enter to play):
Chrome Apps and Extensions

iPad Apps

Note: using the Puffin Browser app makes many switch accessible websites work on the iPad! 

Subscription Sites with Free Trials
  • Busy Things is a switch accessible site for young children out of the UK.  You can try it out for free for two weeks.
  • Ginger Tiger is another switch accessible subscription based site.
  • Help Kidz Learn Subscriptions are listed here.  They DO take PO's.
Also be sure to check out Game Base and One Switch for other (usually more advanced) switch games.

*Those sites with a star have multiple activities to try out!  Wednesday's With Sam lists these by activity instead of website if that is useful for you.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Symbol and Photo Sets and Programs to Use Them

Free Picture Symbols
Commercial Picture Symbols

Free Photo Sets

Commercial Photo Sets

Tactile Symbols
Free Board Making Programs

Commercial Board Making Programs

Do It Yourself Directions

School districts and educational agencies are feeling the economic crisis in painful ways.  Doing your own adaption can save valuable resources for other things.  Often times self-adapted items work as well or better than commercial items.

Additionally making adaptions to items can be a create way to build community during a professional development day.  Gather items you may need for adaptions and store in a central location, then you can grab it and get together with colleagues for an afternoon of purposeful fun.

Adaption Toolbox Items
  • craft, hot and crazy glue (plus glue gun)
  • various kinds of tape
  • sticky tack
  • scissors
  • soldering iron, solder
  • notching file
  • clamps
  • tacks
  • brads
  • dollar store items (things from the toy, craft, kitchen goods and hardware aisles)
  • "junk drawer" items
  • allen wrenchs
  • screw drivers and screws in all sizes
  • hammer and nails in all sizes
  • assorted nuts and bolts
  • cable ties
  • velcro
  • goo gone (or similar)
  • disinfectingwipes/alcohol based sanitizer
  • x-acto knife or similar
  • sandpaper
  • staples and stapler/staple gun
  • foam core board
  • contact paper
  • epoxy
  • switch componets, wire, speakers, assorted electronics
  • PVC Pipe
  • Triwall Cardboard
  • Loc-Line
  • first aid kit
Here are directions to make various adaptations for your students.

School Tools
Activities of Daily Living
Augmentative and Alternative Communication
Switches/Switch Accessible
Academic Helpers
CVI Interventions
Helpful Information

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Apps for AAC

There are so many places keeping up with the constantly evolving world of apps for Augmentative and Alternative Communication for mobile devices.  Here are some links to bookmark to find out about new AAC apps and compare features:

iOS (iPod, iPhone and iPad)

    Wednesday, September 14, 2011

    V-Pen AAC Now in USA

    I have been gazing with longing at the V-Pen (from Unlimiter) system for sometime now.  Until recently it was not available in the United States, however PCI has begun to carry it.  The V-Pen is an electronic talking pen which "reads" letters, words or symbols from a paper.  It comes with two spelling boards and seven adhesive stickers.  You can also purchase a V-Board of symbols and VoiceInk software to make your own boards.  VoiceInk boards can also be accessed using the free VoiceInk app on an iPad.  The integrated system is called Uni-Tech.  Both the VoiceInk boards and the software use the PingPong Boy Symbol Set (also from Unlimiter). Check it out in the video:

    Sadly it is possible that the V-Pen system has made it to the USA too late.  The price point for the pen and boards is $1,499.95 and the software adds another $499.95 to that.  For that price you can buy an iPad2 with Proloquo2Go AND TouchChat plus a stylus and portable speakers.  The tablet movement may be out too far ahead for the V-Pen to take hold.

    If you are tied to the idea of a board and pen system you can try using the AnyBook Reader plus stickers (with is about $55.00 with extra memory) on a communication board you make with Boardmaker or SymbolMate or even Microsoft Word and Google Images. 

    Sunday, September 11, 2011

    All Abilities ePlayground

    All Abilities ePlayground is an accessible website that is part of the accessible playground movement in Queensland, Australia.  All Abilities ePlayground includes options to play using a mouse and keyboard, a single switch, Puff2Play (blowing into the mic), blind mode (This includes a blind and single switch version.) and interactive whiteboard.

    All Abilities ePlayground has four games with multiple levels.  Ibis Buster involves "shooing" away birds and other animals from a beach your avatar is walking on.  Memory is a matching game (level one is animals, two is musical instruments and three is weather conditions).  In TrixMix you activate animals which each make a different sound in order to play or recreate music.  In Roo Hill Thrill you control your avatar as it surfs and tries to avoid balls.

    In the single switch version you can use the settings (accessed by pressing "s") to toggle scanning on and off, control scanning speed, frame color (the box that shows hot spots), and switch activation type as well as background sound effects.

    You will need to complete a free registration to use the site.

    Wednesday, September 7, 2011

    Science Experiments for Special Kids

    One of my professional development goals for myself for the year is to ramp up science experiments and writing activities in my classroom.  However simple science experiments are few and far between, add in a quest for picture instructions or easy student response sheets and it is tough to do an experiment!

    That's where you come in!  Do you do science experiments with your class of learners with severe or multiple special needs? If every regular reader of this blog (I estimate that to be about 300 people) creates and shares one adapted science experiment collectively we will have access to enough experiments to last us years!

    If you create materials in Boardmaker you can share by posting to the Science for Special Kids group on Boardmaker Share.  If you use other authoring software (Clicker5, SymbolMate, PixWriter, Classroom Suite) please post to the appropriate sharing site and then share a link below in the comments.  Alternatively you can email your files and I will post them to the Intensive SpEd Resources Wiki

    Here are some wonderful websites full of science experiments to get you started:

    Saturday, September 3, 2011

    Unique Learning System

    Unique Learning Program has really upped its game this school year.  Some of the new features include:
    • More file formats for the supportive files including Power Point, Classroom Suite and Saltillo.  
    • Unique GPS (which stands for Goals, Preference and Skills) which is an assessment system 
    • addition of Core Materials for all levels
    • addition of Transition Materials for all levels
    • addition of a Transition Passport to the high school level
    • Online Checkpoint (i.e. quizzes)
    • Unique Support Center - online help for teachers and others
    • online library of adapted books in many levels
    My future wishes for Unique Learning Program:
    • improve online accessibility including but not limited to
      • switch access to all online materials
      • low vision support in the form of
        • larger symbol options when using print materials
        • auditory scanning with switch access to materials
        • ability to change formatting of online materials in terms of size of symbols, color of symbols (black on white, white on black, color on yellow, etc) and font sizes
    • more attention to "Participation Level"/"Level One" (students with severe cognitive challenges) in all materials and resources *especially in the transition portfolios and math materials* (Materials continue to be designed for mixed ability classrooms/inclusion classrooms, meaning those of us severing primarily or only students with severe/profound disabilities still will be unable to use many materials without significant adaptations)
    • a least one theme related switch accessible game a month 
    • four-five "Measure It" recipes a month with all or most "low choke hazard", "nut-free" and "gluten-free" (most special education settings cook weekly and most have one or more students with choking precautions or food allergies)
    • at least four writing activities and science experiments per unit that can be used "out of the box" with students who have severe/profound intellectual disabilities
    • attention to AAC instruction, especially on the "Participation Level" (i.e. ability to customize communication boards and symbol training in addition to sight word training)
    • access to materials on iOS and Android platforms
    • a four year rotation of themes instead of a three year (because my students stay with me for four years due to our state guidelines)
    • a broader range of themes so that all areas of the curriculum are touched upon in the theme rotation (in three years of teaching Unique we have done US Civics and History many, many times, but rarely do we do World History or Ancient History)
    • a even broader range of support materials to include Tobii Communicator, Test Me, Score Me, Choose It Maker, Proloquo2Go, Clicker5, Interactive Whiteboards and (I know this is a stretch) Dynavox and Boardmaker
    • activity exchange to share materials made by teachers/therapists
    • automatic updating of AAC systems using Symbolstix to include boards related to monthly themes, core curriculum and transition materials

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