Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Technology Tuesday

This week’s Technology Tuesday is another exciting edition of “Chris’s Corner,” featuring a communicative update from Chris Baumgart, Imagine!’s Assistive Technology Specialist. 

Chris’s Corner 

Welcome back, Fellow Corner-ians!

In this installment of The Corner takes us over to the communication lab at Imagine!’s Boulder CORE/Labor Source site, where participants are using iPads as communication devices.

As you may or may not know, there are many options available for individuals requiring assistance to communicate, and different devices have different advantages. Many of these devices, however, carry an extremely hefty price tag, and the process to acquire one typically requires a lengthy approval process through a major insurer. For the participants in this communication lab, some of whom are in various stages of this process, an interim solution has been devised. Participants are using iPads in the classroom setting to relay anything from the days of the week, or the weather, or how they are feeling at the moment, to participating in group gameplay. Here are a couple of photos of this in action!

Now, as all of you sophisticated tablet and touch-screen users know all too well, not all buttons, icons, and text fields are created equal. The simple act of touching a touch screen does not equate to communicating, so this communication lab is also working on the art of discrimination. In other words, the art of pressing the correct button to ensure that something happens. The importance of this cannot be overstated. When someone is communicating how he or she may be feeling at a given time, or communicating a choice that he or she may have, it’s important that the participant is actively selecting the icon or button that realistically communicates that choice, rather than pressing any old button on the screen to do the trick. To that end, a few of the activities for this communication lab are dedicated to just that purpose. Each screen presented to a client during this activity has a number of buttons. One button serves an active purpose, be it a video of an animal making its signature sound in the case of the Animal Safari, or playing a section of a music video that participants enjoy watching. Any number of additional buttons may be present for an individual, each of which is a ‘null’ button that does not have an action associated with it.

Note above the two buttons, one with an icon, the other without. Only one serves a function. And below you can see a participant using Animal Safari.

In this way, participants learn to discern the buttons or icons that more correctly represent the thought, feeling, or choice that he or she would like to communicate, thus adding another tool to his or her communication tool box.

Stay tuned for more, corner-ians!

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