Thursday, 1 October 2009

I can... use the computer!

Now that the new school year is well underway, there are so many new opportunities available!  Your child may want to use the computer more at home and in the classroom.  Here are some quick and easy suggestions for using the computer with children who use AAC and may also need adapted access for the computer

Vocabulary suggestions for using the computer:
I love this!
I want to save it.
Let’s click the mouse.
Let’s try a different one.
Can we play that again!
This is boring.
Let’s do it again.
Can we print this out, now?
This one is my favourite!
What’s happens next?
Can we send an email?
I’m all done on the computer.

Sometimes, it may be easier to use a computer with some adaptations.

Challenge:  My student has difficulty with his vision.

Possible Solutions:
  • Use a keyboard with larger keys and/or keys on which the letters are printed in a colour that is in high contrast to the colour of the keys (e.g. IntelliKeys, Big Keys keyboards).
  • Change the display settings of the computer operating system (size of font and icons, colours) e.g., in Windows XP, go to: Start/Settings/Control Panel/Display/Appearance/Select Windows Standard (large) from the drop down menu and change font size to large or extra large/Apply/OK
  • Use a program that provides auditory feedback to the student when they have done something (e.g. reads back the letter they typed, ‘dings’ when they click a button).
  • Use a monitor arm to place the monitor in an optimal position to meet the student’s visual needs.      
    Questions???? Contact your ACS clinicians or your vision specialist.
Challenge:  My student has difficulty using a standard keyboard and mouse.

Possible Solutions for Keyboard Access:
·         Change the settings in the Control Panel either under Keyboard or Accessibility Options to adjust how the keyboard accepts input.  E.g . in Windows XP, go to:  Start/Settings/Control Panel/Keyboard/Speed OR Start/Settings/Control Panel/Accessibility Options/Keybaord tab/Use Sticky Keys (you can press the ‘Shift’ key, release, then press a letter to have the letter capitalized instead of having to press both keys at once).
·         Use an expanded keyboard like the IntelliKeys that can be customized as needed to match the activity (e.g. keys with pictures and/or words rather than individual letters).
·         Use an on-screen keyboard which allows the student to use a mouse to select letters from the computer display (see links to demo versions under Resources).

Possible Solutions for Mouse Access:
·         Change the settings in the Control Panel either under Mouse or Accessibility Options to adjust how the mouse looks and moves. E.g., in Windows XP, go to:  Start/Settings/Control Panel/Mouse/Pointers (change how the cursor appears on the display) OR  Start/Settings/Control Panel/Accessibility Options/Mouse tab/Use Mouse Keys (allows the student to control the cursor using the number pad of the keyboard).
·         Use a switch with a switch-adapted mouse to perform a mouse click (see resources).
      Try using a different kind of pointing device (e.g. trackball, joystick).                 
Questions? Contact your OT.
No Tech Ideas
  • Create a communication display with messages that include some of the vocabulary listed on the first page of the newsletter.  This could be made accessible to the student either by placing by their computer workstation or on a frame around the edges of the monitor.  

Light Tech Ideas

High Tech Ideas
  • Using computer for presentations or a slide show (e.g. create a Power Point presentation ‘All About Me’.)
  • Some speech-generating devices can be used to control your computer. Talk to your ACS clinicians for more info.
  • For students who are not yet reading/writing using text entry, use a symbol processor (e.g. Writing With Symbols) rather than a word-processor. Symbol processors can usually be setup to display symbols and words together, symbols alone, or words alone. E.g.
Talking with our mouths full!

In celebration of AAC Awareness Month, we’re getting together for a special lunch! Tuesday October 27, 2009 at Shelley’s restaurant in London. See the attached flyer for more details
School Age Children With Special Needs: Accessibility - Getting What You Need
Date: Saturday, November 21, 2009 from 9am-3:30 pm
Parents/caregivers can choose from a variety of interactive workshop sessions and view vendor displays and exhibits For more information go to: 
To register: Contact Carrie Connell at 519-685-8700, ext. 53367 or

Resources: describes benefits of using computers with young children and gives more ideas for adapting access.

Not sure if an on-screen keyboard will work? Demo versions at: ,

Purchase a Switch adapted mouse at

Websites (activities and info) switch accessible game for older students, free trial lots of fun activities for children who are learning to read resource section with activities for switch, touch screen and pointing device users book reading and early writing electronic books switch games switch accessible games

If your child needs to write at home, and is physically unable to do so with a pencil, he/she may be eligible for funding assistance toward the purchase of a computer