Tag Archives: AAC

what’s in your bookcase?

Here’s a quick look at our Inky Ed! bookcase – lots of great books around inclusive education and a handful worth reading with more of a disability focus.

We have added a few around grammar and language development to use alongside Mac’s growth with his communication device.  You’ll notice Banish Boring Words, The Giggly Guide to Grammar and Unjournaling all have a literacy focus.

The Sneetches and Seedfolks both have interesting messages to take away.  The Sneetches about accepting diversity (thanks Dr Seuss) and Seedfolks about connectivity, community and how just one person can make a difference in the lives of many others.

Do you have any recommended reads to share?  I’d love to keep building this bookcase up for us all to share.


BLOG CODE: Y589TF6K5396 

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Filed under Inclusion... straight up!, things that make me go "glll"

switch access for iDevices… from those in the know!

INKY ED OUTSOURCED? well, just for today…

  1. Because I haven’t yet managed to get my hands on the “APPlicator” yet (but plan to).
  2. Because Jane’s Blog is one you should be visiting regularly in any case.
  3. Because Jane has provided a great review  of the Pretorian APPlicator.
  4. And, because Jane & Alex have compiled THE comprehensive list of switch accessible apps.

Here’s two links you shouldn’t miss.



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Filed under Access all Areas, Technology - things that help

the ‘season proper’

Football season is here.  In Australia you are spoilt for choice with the amount of sport and number of ‘footy codes’ to choose from.

In our family it’s Australian rules football and the AFL (Australian Football League).

Mac has consistently maintained he is a Sydney Swans supporter (which is my team 🙂 ) yet his dad is a very loyal Carlton Blues supporter.  I have let Mac know he doesn’t have to ‘truly’ commit to a team until he turns 10 😉 but he has been solid on the Swans for a good few years now.

Mac: championing the red & white
SWANS v GWC with 38,230 of our closest friends

We were reasonably organised this year, even made it to the opening game of the season in Sydney last Saturday.  An historic moment being the first game ever for the new Great Western Sydney Giants (GWS).  I’m not sure he doesn’t love the pre-game frivolity and post-game celebrations a little more than the actual game… that’s probably not that unusual for an 8yo – particularly one who can’t really see what’s happening on the field courtesy of his cortical vision impairment.

While Mac has had a lovely time over the years snuggling with his Dad, usually in front of the fire, for the couple of hours it takes for an AFL  game to take place he hasn’t really been that engaged.   He’s been to a couple of live games in the early days but they seemed to ‘freak him out’ a little with the crowd roar and the whole ‘lack of vision’ thing.

This year Mac has joined his ‘first ever’ footy tipping competition with his Dad and some other Dads’n lads.  Great practice for AAC (either with auditory or visual scanning) and we have found some time for him to select his tips at school.  This has a couple of benefits… it helps the other kids see him doing the same stuff (or cooler stuff) than them and it saves me one job at home.  It does help that his Learning Support person this year is an AFL supporter (although there’s no explaining him being a Richmond supporter).

At the moment we have each of the rounds set up on the computer for visual scanning, but might (time permitting), load them into a Dynavox share page for easy updating each year.

I am looking forward to seeing how Mac fares in his first ever tipping comp… ‘carn the Swannies!

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Filed under Access all Areas, Inclusion... straight up!

kenken: no-brainer for differentiated instruction?

You’ve probably seen these puzzles appearing in your newspapers over the last few years.  Looking a bit like a weird Sudoku puzzle they are worth a second glance.

click the image to learn about the inventor

KenKen puzzles have built in differentiation, potential for collaborative learning and are readily available as free resource.   Is that not the ultimate in universal design in learning?

For an auditory or visual scanner they are great because you have a small number of answer options compared to other puzzles.  For a 4×4 puzzle you only have to enter 1, 2, 3 or 4 in each square – much less tedious for a scanner.

Kenken puzzles can contain all maths operations but, just as easily, can be simplified to only include ‘addition’ operations for someone not yet able to cope with division or multiplication (and don’t look any different – which can be important to some learners).

Here’s two examples of different puzzles, one simple – the other more complex.  Using colour is another way you could differentiate for learners – for example someone still learning their colours and number identification may work alongside others to complete all the “purple squares”, or groups can work together each on their own colour based on individual competencies.

The basic instructions are:

  • The numbers in each heavily outlined set of squares, called cages, must combine (in any order) to produce the target number in the top corner of the cage using the mathematical operation indicated.
  • Cages with just one box should be filled in with the target number in the top corner.
  • A number can be repeated within a cage as long as it is not in the same row or column.

A solved 3 x 3 (addition only) puzzle looks like this:

The KenKen website is a great resource.  Educators can sign up for the KenKen® Classroom program, where they will supply KenKen puzzles to you every week.   Parents are most likely able to apply too – they gave me a subscription and my next step is to start setting the puzzles up on Mac’s computer for him.

interested educators simply click the image


Filed under Accessing the Curriculum

classroom friendly wireless keyboard/mouse


The Lenovo Mini Wireless Keyboard has a built in trackball mouse.   It comes with a USB dongle and works wirelessly from a distance of up to ten meters, it is compatible with Windows 7, XP and Vista (does anyone still use Vista?)

Mac’s aide this year is a Gen “Y”er and awesome when it comes to thumb typing.  This little keyboard/mouse is fantastic for maneuvering around the screen without having to be in touching distance of the computer or communication device.  We primarily use this with Mac’s Dynavox V (open device) and do have lots of macros set up in toolbars so much of the everyday stuff is just a click of an icon..

These little keyboards would also work really well for group time when you have the entire class sitting around the whiteboard.  Just because most kids can clamber up and use the interactive whiteboard doesn’t always mean the need to.

I am sure you can waste a lot of time waiting for kids to stand up, step over other kids, do their stuff and sit back down again.  Some days it might be easier and novel to hand the wireless keyboard around the group.  It’s a new level of dexterity required, it’s less disruptive on those days where you just need to keep things calm and it’s great for kids in class who may not have the physical ability to get up and access the whiteboard – or might just find standing up in front of everyone a bit too much pressure.

We got ours off eBay and so far it has got a five star rating from both Mac’s aide and myself.

(We did try a bluetooth keyboard/mouse combo but found it wasn’t reliable enough with its pairing on the Dynavox.  Not sure if that was a Dynavox issue or that Keyboard’s issue.)


March 12, 2012 · 1:18 pm

a mysterious excursion

Mac had a school excursion.  It was to the local animal park on one of our coldest days this year.  For some perspective… our animal park is not a big, fancy ‘zoo’.  It is a small wildlife park in a regional town – there’s some interesting animals there – but it’s pretty modest.

When he got home from the excursion we discussed his day using his yes/no switches.  He was completely over excited and ready for a whole lot of silly.

Here’s the upshot of what I managed to find out, that is… “the day according to Mac”  and an example of how we get to this kind of information – although I won’t subject you to the entire convo, it went on for some time.

Never let the truth stand in the way of a good story… eh Mac?


Filed under Inclusion... straight up!, things that make me go "glll"

more specifically… which reindeer?

We were at a disability equipment expo.  Mac (in his mostly ‘home made’ wheelchair) and I were mooching around looking at what’s new, innovative, desirable and, of course, a pipe dream.  We were also lamenting most of what we really want isn’t yet invented.

There weren’t many other kids there – it was a school day afterall.  But one young girl and her parents made a bee line for us.

They wanted to know where we had got Mac’s spoke protectors from – they hadn’t seen any like that.  Mac had his aboriginal art covers on – made from wrapping paper and clear contact.  I explained how we made them to the Mum.

Then I spoke to Miss H (who had a neat little wheelchair with butterflies and flowers on her spoke protectors) and explained to her how she and her mum could easily change covers really regularly, she could think up great designs for different themed events  (yep,her mum was semi-glaring at me, slightly bemused and probably wishing they never introduced themselves).

I told her about Mac’s Xmas chair when he was “little” and how it had two reindeer on the front & flashing lights.  Mac was grinning at her and looking slightly ‘self-important’.

She checked a couple of facts – did the lights have batteries? how did the reindeer attach to the chair? and then “which reindeer where they?

Heh, I didn’t actually know which reindeer they were…

“We’ll have to ask Mac about that” I told her as I grabbed his yes/no switches.

“He’ll have to use his feet to answer yes & no”, I explained.

Mum:       Mac, Miss H wants to know which reindeer were on your chair – do you know?

Mac:          YES

Miss H:    Was one Comet?

Mac:           NO

Miss H:     What about Dasher?

Mac:            YES

Miss H:      Um, Dancer?

Mac:           NO

Miss H:     (with her Dad’s suggestion) Or Prancer?

Mac:           NO

Mum:        Oh, we forgot Rudolph? was the other one Rudolph?

Mac:          YES

Miss H:     Oh, so Dasher and Rudolph, huh cool.

It still amazes me what is important to kids.   I had NEVER considered what the names of those two toy reindeer were.  I also love the fact that had Mac not previously determined which reindeer they actually were he is able to just ‘makes stuff up’ like all kids do to suit the situation.

With that, we parted ways and Mac and I continued collating our mental wish list of equipment we may want/need/covet now and in the future.

I do look forward to the day Mac doesn’t need me to hold his foot switches, a day when he can be an independent communicator.

But, for now I enjoy that pretty much everyone accepts his method of communicating particularly when the conversation is natural and normal.  Sure I maneuver the convo around to get it in a format Mac can contribute, but then Miss H just naturally asked Yes/No questions without missing a beat.  It’s not that hard really.


Filed under things that make me go "glll"