Friday, August 14, 2009

D.I.Y. Communication Device for School

Ready for the first day of school

School started today!

Morning came early, especially after the last-minute, back-to-school shopping rush that came so quickly on the heels of our family vacation. And because last night, after all the school supplies and gym shoes and completed forms had been successfully rounded up, there was still one thing left to do: complete Max's assignment.

His assignment wasn't very difficult or involved. We were simply supposed to send in some photos or something he could share with the class about his summer vacation -- sort of an abbreviated take on the "What I Did on My Summer Vacation" essay from days of yore. It's a simple task for most of us, but when the child doing the sharing is nonverbal, things get trickier.

So this year I had the idea to create a slide show with captions that Max could take with him to facilitate his task. I selected an assortment of digital pictures of some of his favorite things from the summer, then made some text slides to explain a bit about each photo, and loaded them all onto an EnVue Digital Photo Album. (Read all about the EnVue by clicking here.)

Hypnotized by his Back-to-School slide show.

Max was thrilled with the whole thing -- electronics, pictures, summer memories, favorite people, all rolled up into one! We went through the slide show together before bed and again in the morning while he was waiting for the bus to come, and he was prepared. He knew how to turn it off and on, how to navigate through the photos, and he remembered and exclaimed over the activities captured within the photos. (He even started imitating my reading of the text slides!)

It worked really well, and I definitely think it's an idea that warrants further experimentation: using a digital photo viewer as a budget-friendly, D.I.Y. communication device!

Here's the slide show:

Back to School Slide Show from Jujyfruit on Vimeo.

*Note: the images on the viewer are perfectly clear, although this slide show version is pixellated; I think it was a bad upload and will try to correct this!*

I'm also including a clip of Max using the EnVue viewer. His initial excitement is gone, because it was already the end of Day #2 for those pictures. Instead of exclaiming and rushing through the pictures, he's just sort of playing and exploring. Actually, it's a pretty uneventful clip, I realize, now that I'm describing it....but I always think it helps to see something in action, so I'm leaving it on here.

Using the Photo Viewer from Jujyfruit on Vimeo.

Notice how independent he is with this thing? At one point he could use some help, but he quickly pulls the viewer out of my reach so he can do it himself. Also, I like how he verbalizes along with it. He says "turn" as he moves to the next slide (it looks like a page turning on the screen), and at one point he spots himself in the crowd and says "Maash!" (the current version of his name). He exclaimed and verbalized much more initially, but now that the novelty of each photo has worn off a bit, he's in quiet processing mode.

As a side note, did you catch the part where he suddenly turns to me and signs "cracker" out of the blue? Conversations with him do tend to jump around, which is another reason I loved the slide show idea. The storyline and images keep him on track (and help the viewer/listener do the same).

I think this idea is a keeper!

No comments: