What Do iPads Do to Support Students

As discussed many, many times, the strategies for CVI must match the assessment results. We never can just randomly apply a strategy because it will not fit the functional visual needs of the child. If it does not fit the functional visual needs, it will not provide visual access and will not foster improvement of cognitive and visual skills.

With that reminder, I was asked about ideas for iPad apps for children who struggle with visual recognition. Just providing a student with an iPad does not guarantee access. We need to assess the child, think about their visual needs and carefully use the iPad as a tool to provide that access.

What can be some general needs for students who struggle with visual recognition?

Impact of Color: The student might benefit from color highlighting to draw visual attention to specific areas on 3D and 2D materials. That color supports visual attention to the specific place.

Light: Backlighting can helps foster access to materials especially in 2D (pictures and text). Some children do not benefit from backlighting and this should be part of the assessment.

Visual Processing Time: There is still a need for increased time for full visual exploration and full visual understanding.

Visual Field: Lower visual fields might be affected in some children. Other children struggle with visual attention in all fields or “hyper attention” if the scene is too complex. (attends to just one part not taking in the whole scene).

Visual Recognition: Presenting new materials in new kinds of presentations might require the verbal narration of visual attributes.

Clutter: Clutter can affects visual understanding of objects, increased display clutter, of faces, and of the sensory environment.

Distance: Near information is more accessible. Distance curiosity is not typical so distance information is missed.

How do we want the iPad to support the student? 

Impact of Color:

  • Tools for color highlighting help support salient feature discussion in pictures and text.

Light:

  • Backlighting helps with understanding and easy of access to prevent fatigue.
  • Moving to 2D: taking pictures of their items in the environment and then providing the 2D on the backlighted iPad.

Visual Processing Time:

  • Provides ability to capture images and videos for longer visual access time.
  • Capturing images can be reviewed as long as needed.

Visual Field:

  • iPad placement is flexible matched to child’s best visual field.

Visual Recognition:

  • Expanded understanding: Example: Here is one kind of mouse in the book but these are all the other kinds of mice.

Visual Clutter and Access:

  • Enlargement: for things at distance, for small items in complexity and for literacy
  • Overall ability to use settings and apps to reduce complexity of images.
  • Studying facial expression in photographs and videos: salient language of faces matched to voice (auditory). There can be instruction about facial expressions that match the auditory information.
  • Visual attributes of items in photographs and as part of texts.
  • Increasing spacing of words and sentences to reduce clutter.
  • Masking: clutter reduction with tools in Photos.

Distance:

  • Videos on the iPad: to bring information about events and concepts that occur at distance: Example: We are reading about giraffes. I think about providing a child with access to where that animal might live and how they move.
  • Access to distance classroom events: Examples: learning song hand movements for circle time.
  • Community access: taking photographs of signs and environmental materials that can be explored on the backlighted, near placed iPad.

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