California Deafblind Services
Gloria: Current Generation of Tablet Computers and Deaf-Blindness01/21/2011 12:50
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How can some of the children who are deaf-blind take advantage of the current generation of tablet computers? My colleague Cristi Saylor (DHH teacher) brought to my attention an internet news clip showing an application software, or an “app”, that a father created for his son whose communication skills are emerging but who cannot speak. The app is called “Verbal Victor.”
Here is the link to the video: https://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2011/01/17/dnt.ipad.helps.boy.talk.WFMY?hpt=C2
This video made me think about the use of tablet computers, in this particular example the use of an iPad and an iPod Touch, and how children who are deaf-blind could benefit from devices such as these and from apps such as “Verbal Victor.”
The use of tablet computers would be appropriate for the segment of our population who can use their vision to see the images on the screen, who have the dexterity to touch the images on the screen, and who may or may not have enough hearing, with the help of their hearing devices, to listen to the sound output of the iPad.
The nice thing about these current-generation tablet computers is that they are portable, much more so than a notebook or laptop computer. They are touch sensitive, reasonably sturdy, with great screen resolution so that even in the smaller models the image is crisp and well contrasted. There is, however, an advantage to the larger models like the iPad because of dexterity or motor issues with some of the population that could benefit from these devices.
And do not forget that these devices are really computers with fantastic display capabilities, so the content can be custom programmed for the child. The display technologies involved are also very flexible. The images can be adjusted in size, color, luminosity and contrast extensively, which is a great advantage for children with low vision. Also, because of the intuitive nature of their use, it may be easier for a child to use it independently.
Watching that parent demonstrate his child’s communication system also made me aware of the ease of response on the tablet, and how many of the children who are deaf-blind need more time to make choices. A tablet naturally responds to user gestures at almost any speed, and there is no need to press with force, simple touch is enough. Also, because it doesn’t have any physical keyboard the linkage between action and effect is much more direct: you touch the image of what you want and not a key somewhere else that represents it more or less arbitrarily.
And there is plenty to start with. Gail Leslie from DB Info Services shared with me a document that has a long list of apps that can be used with children who have special needs. The apps on this list are not only used for communication purposes. This document was updated on 4/10/2010 and is twenty-three pages long. I am sure someone is creating a new app that could be added to this list as I write:
Tablets could be used in so many ways. The child can use it to makes choices (like the child in the video), read a story as complex or as simple as the child needs, make a journal of a recent experience based on electronic pictures taken in the activity, create their schedule for the school day, make a list of groceries with their pictures that the child needs to purchase, etc. And the nice thing about a tablet or touch player is that the child could bring it along with them to the supermarket, or to any other place where they need it.
I have also heard about another child who has CHARGE Syndrome, good functional vision and a cochlear implant, who loves using an iPad as a communication device. Please share with us if you are using any tablet and app with your child/student, how they are using it, and for what purpose. Is your child/student using the iPad or an iPod Touch? In what ways?
Topic: Current Generation of Tablet Computers and Deaf-Blindness
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