What is assistive technology?

Assistive technology is any kind of technology and/or tool that can be used to enhance the functional independence of a person with a disability. Often, for people with disabilities, accomplishing daily tasks such as communicating with others, going to school or work, or participating in activities can be a challenge. Assistive Technology (AT) devices are tools to help overcome those challenges and enable people living with disabilities to enhance and have access to a quality of life, that may otherwise not be known, and lead more independent lives.


Video Modeling

If you have any Mobile Technology: an iPhone, iPad or even a Flip Camera, you can start adding a new dimension right away with teaching social skills with students on the autism spectrum or with intellectual disabilities.  Video modeling (VM) is a teaching strategy in which a teacher shows a video of desired behaviors or interactions to an individual student or small group of students. There is evidence that video modeling can be an effective method in teaching desired behaviors.   

Wikipedia describes Video Modeling as:
"a form of observational learning in which desired behaviors are learned by watching a video demonstration and then imitating of the behavior of the model. In video self-modeling (VSM), individuals observe themselves performing a behavior successfully on video, and then imitate the targeted behavior. Video modeling has been used to teach many skills, including social skills, communication, and athletic performance; it has shown promise as an intervention for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Important practical and theoretical questions remain largely unanswered about video modeling and other forms of video-based intervention."

With advances in mobile technology, VM is becoming more efficient and effective in addressing the needs of our diverse students.

Mobile technology has helped us by developing an ease of
  • Editing digital video clips
  • Using a start/stop/restart approach
  • Videoing at home, school, work, public transportation
Also, an ease of transitioning to audio only by
  • Hearing prompts through ear buds
  • Start and stop on ear bud

Video modeling is developing a video model using the individual it is designed to support (or can be developed by using a peer) doing the specific task you wish to teach.  Once developed, the student watches it and follows the model.  Because the task has been put to video, the student has the ability to watch the model over and over, as many times as needed.  There is increasing research about VM's effectiveness for a variety of individuals. The National Professional Development Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders has provided us: Evidence-Based Practice: Video Modeling and the CEC's article: A Meta-Analysis of Video Modeling and Video Self-Modeling Interventions for Children and Adolescents With Autism Spectrum Disorders are worth taking the time to explore.

  • Video modeling is a teaching strategy in which a teacher shows a video of desired behaviors or interactions to an individual student or small group of students.
  • The student imitates the behavior or interaction when in the appropriate situation (Bellini, Akullian, Hopf, 2007).

According to The NPDC on ASD, "Video modeling is a mode of teaching that uses video recording and display equipment to provide a visual model of the targeted behavior or skill. Types of video modeling include basic video modeling, video self-modeling, point-of-view video modeling, and video prompting. Basic video modeling involves recording someone besides the learner engaging in the target behavior or skill (i.e., models). The video is then viewed by the learner at a later time. Video self-modeling is used to record the learner displaying the target skill or behavior and is reviewed later. Point-of-view video modeling is when the target behavior or skill is recorded from the perspective of the learner. Video prompting involves breaking the behavior skill into steps and recording each step with incorporated pauses during which the learner may attempt the step before viewing subsequent steps. Video prompting may be done with either the learner or someone else acting as a model."

Michael Leventhal explains how, “Video Modeling is a method of teaching in which a student learns by watching a model on a videotape demonstrating the target skill. Video Modeling has been tested to help with communication, disruptive classroom behavior, increasing on-task behavior, … teach complex social sequences, as a treatment procedure, as an evidence-based treatment for children with autism.”  With today’s technology it makes the use of video modeling much easier, faster, convenient and more affordable than it was before.

What are the steps of creating VM?
  1. Determine the skill that you want the student or students to learn. It can be a skill such as communicating and interacting with others, or it can be a basic skill such as grocery shopping.
  2. Select a setting that is conducive to the task you want to teach. If you are demonstrating how to interact, you can do this at home or in the classroom. Also determine if you will need others to participate in the video.
  3. Decide on the video camera to be used. A mobile phone works just fine! You just want to be able to transfer it to the desired media for student viewing.
  4. Ask someone to film the demonstration. Have adults or peers perform the task and record it. Recordings are usually brief and to the point. If the recording is too long, students may become distracted or confused by too much information.
  5. Show the recording to the class and/or individual student. Let them watch the video as many times as needed so that they can get a grasp on the skill they need to model.
  6. Ask the students to model the behavior they have watched on the video. Let them attempt the skill on their own without any coaching from you. However, video modeling used with autistic students usually benefits from prompts.
  7. Provide students with feedback and reinforcement.
  8. Ask them to repeat what they learned on another day. Show the video if necessary and repeat the steps until the students begin to master the skill.

National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders provides modules on Video Modeling “Steps for Implementation” which include:
Step 1. Targeting a Behavior for Teaching
Step 2. Having the Correct Equipment
Step 3. Planning for the Video Recording
Step 4. Collecting Baseline Data
Step 5. Making the Video
Step 6. Arranging the Environment for Watching the Video
Step 7. Showing the Video
Step 8. Monitoring Progress
Step 9. Troubleshooting if the Learner is Not Making Progress

Ideas for topics:
See page 4 of the following article: Video Modeling
A Visually Based Intervention for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder by Jennifer B. Ganz, Theresa L. Earles-Vollrath and Katherine E. Cook

Apps available to support production and/or viewing:

WordToob app ($19.99) randomizes the playing back of the videos.  This allows you to have self modeling, peer modeling, and point of view modeling all working on the same concept.   Only show positive examples of the desired behaviors.  If possible allow the child to be the director.  Them being in control and teaching other children how to use an appropriate voice or other desired behavior is very important. The student can take the boards home and share with others promoting generalization.  Videos are available to see how it works. (See this video for the 6 ways this app is being used.)
Be sure to consider how the app lets you share the video to be sure it corresponds with your needs. Some allow you to share via email or social medias yet some only allow you to use it through their program itself.

Misc. Resources:
  • YouTube  "Video Modeling" Students with autism in Kim Brown's special day class at La Costa Heights Elementary School see and hear how their regular education classmates interact. Brown created the program to help her special education students learn appropriate classroom and playground behaviors. And as a bonus, regular education students who assist in the program are learning tolerance through the novel program that uses video cameras and video players.

VM is especially helpful for those activities or behaviors that you can't model in class as well as those that are logistically difficult to model frequently (grocery shopping, eating at a restaurant, a field trip). Remember to share your videos with parents too as they can reinforce the behaviors in the home also.

For more resources and videos that others have developed, please see my Pinterest Video Modeling board.