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.

The mission of this blog is to serve as a voice of a constant researcher in the field of educational and assistive technologies so that the best products, strategies and services may be located easily, in hopes that they will then be delivered, taught and used to better the lives of people with disabilities.


PowerPoint for Switch Access - How to Guide

PowerPoint for Switch Access Users
Talking Books

Microsoft Office Power Point is a presentation program developed for computers. In PowerPoint text, graphics, movies, music, and other objects are inserted on individual pages or “slides”. You can make a Power Point presentation for any topic and customize it with text, graphics, and music to engage the audience.

Power Point is particularly helpful when used in the classroom as it can “hook” the learner and make learning more fun. When using PPT’s set to music you can time your slide transitions and advance the slides automatically so there is no need for you to be right next to your computer when the show plays. PPT’s also support the use of animations; you can animate objects in PPT or insert movie clips to make your presentations more fun.

You can make any PowerPoint switch accessible very easily. (Of course directions may vary due to the version you are using but hopefully this will help you get on the right track.) Making books accessible with a switch will help students with independence. This is a tool most of us have access to on our computers, making this a free option.  It takes a little time the first time you do it, after that, you will be making these in no time at all!! Once you have a library full, it is there for all your students to enjoy year after year. 

Ideas for using PowerPoints with switches:
  1. Look at your students goals. Base your stories around their goals. i.e., do they need to learn personal information? Are they workingon job skills?
  2. Are you reading specific books or are your students reading specific books? As long as you have a copy of the book, you may scan the pages and make this book switch accessible. (This follows copyright books and accessibility laws.)  
  3. Is your student learning to count? Make a counting book. Have favorite objects fly in as you count them. ("5 pumpkins, one, two, three, four five!" as they come in from the right.)
  4. Learning to read site words? 
Use your imagination!

In a new document, begin with a blank presentation and a blank layout. There are many design templates and formatting options that can make PowerPoint projects more creative, but for the purpose of learning skills, we will begin with a blank page.  

Find pictures for your book. This is just one of many ways to find pictures:
  1. Go to the Internet
  2. Go to http://www.google.com/
  3. Click on “Images”
  4. In the search box insert a keyword that identifies the picture you are searching for. Ex: Pig.
  5. Select the picture you prefer.
  6. Keep in mind that these pictures may be copyrighted so use them with attention to copyright laws.
  7. If you are using a PC system, right click on the picture you want.
  8. Select “Save Picture As”
  9. Select a folder such as “My Pictures” to save pictures in. Be sure to name the picture so that you can easily recall the picture.
Add pictures to your slide:   
  1. Select Insert
  2. Select Picture
  3. Select “From File”
  4. Click on the picture you want. It will automatically insert into your PowerPoint slide.
  5. If you click on your picture is will make “handles” visible that will allow you to click and drag to resize the picture.
Add Text to your slide:
  1. Select Insert 
  2. Select “Text Box”  
  3. Click and drag the text box on the slide. 
  4. Type in the text. 
Add Sound to your slide:
To record your voice onto the slide you will need a microphone on the computer.
  • From the “START” Menu, select Programs, Accessories, Entertainment, and finally Sound Recorder
  • Record the sound you want.
  • Press the red button to begin recording and then again to stop recording
  • Save the recording in a folder you can easily find with a name that you can easily recall. EX: This little piggy saved in “My Audio” folder.
Animate your slides:
  1. Open the animation toolbar by going to “View”, “Toolbars”, click on “Animation Toolbar.
  2. In the animation toolbar, highlight the audio file to play. Select for the audio file to play automatically after approximately 2 seconds. This will allow the slide time to transition before the audio plays.
  3. Add actions to your slide.
  4. Select “View”
  5. Select “Slide Sorter”
  6. Right click on the slide to animate.
  7. Select “Transition”
  8. In the “Transition” box, select “On Mouse click” This will allow the switch access user to control the movement from one slide to the next.
Repeat the above steps for each slide you add in your “Talking Book”. These steps are just the basics. There are many options within PowerPoint for animation and audio that can enhance a talking book. 

There are PowerPoints designed for kids on the Internet. Take what is already made and animate it so your switch users can have access. 

Here are a few PowerPoints available for your use: