Tag Archives: visual scanning

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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Microsoft Word for accessible scanning? You bet!

I like Microsoft Word.  I have used it since the days of DOS, so have kind of grown up with it, along side one another, it’s an old friend.  

Not to say I am totally thrilled with some of the changes in the more recent version – but I am trying hard not to be one of those “Oh, in my day Microsoft Word so much better, before all this new fan dangled stuff…”  That’s not to say I don’t ‘stray’ – I do and fairly guilt free, but I know it will always be there for me if I need it.

I am fortunate I know how to manouver around Word pretty well.  I know lots of tricks and ways to manipulate it.  For years I could get by without a Desktop Publisher program because there was very little I couldn’t manage in Word.

So it was a natural step to create files on Mac’s (the kid not the operating system) computer using MS Word for him to access the curriculum.

Part of the reason I was keen to do it was that MOST people these days are familiar with Word, if only at a very basic level.  I decided I was more likely to have someone ’embrace’ Word than the thought of having to learn Clicker or Boardmaker.  Both of which can, of course, do way more than what we are doing – but we wanted something  quick, simple and capable of being modded on the fly.

We designed a file with a simple table format to use and then fill the the information as required.

Mac uses a Crick USB interface even with his Dynavox as it gives us way more control over switch settings than the Dynavox ports.  MS Office is loaded on the Dynavox V open device too and he has buttons within the Dynavox software to take him to the appropriate files in Microsoft Word.

It works by having one switch set to the [tab] and the second set to a [macro] and assigned to the [F11] key that turns the cell he chooses bright yellow. He can use it for editing, find-a-word, graphing, footy tipping, choice making, brainstorming etc.

It is visual scanning.  Something we never thought Mac would be able to do, but it seems his vision is much better than we originally thought – so we try to offer him plenty of visual scanning opportunities.

Mac’s aide this year has embraced this method and it is being used daily.  It’s so simple – we have a few extra macros set to menu buttons to clear a cell, or clear the shading to make life easier.  

And, if Mac is going to type his editing changes we can quickly change to either the Dynavox keyboard page (if he is using auditory scanning) or a quick tweak of the switch setup to allow him to type in Morse Code in Word (but that’s another blog post…)

Some screenshots showing examples of how you could use it should make it clearer…






I am more than happy to send you a copy of the file if you want.  You might need to create your own macros but it will help as a starting point – just put a request in the comments.




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