Saturday, November 9, 2013

'Appy Hour Review: Inclusive Tech Switch Accessible Apps Part 1

Once I find an app I like, I tend to try the company's other apps to see how they may be beneficial to the children with whom I work.   Inclusive Technologies, based in the UK, has been a great find for my clientele.

The maker of Splat the Clowns has a plethora of switch accessible apps, so I figured I will do a compilation review of the ones that I have purchased, as well as the ones that I had received a code from the company to test drive.  Disclaimer, my thoughts, as odd as they are, are my own regardless of how I attained them :)

But because Inclusive Tech makes quite a few apps, most of which I love and use on a daily basis, I decided to do a 2 (or more) part 'Appy Hour to provide quick and concise reviews of their ease of use, visual, auditory, engagement factor, and overall thought.  And because I work some of the most amazing children with a variety of abilities and disabilities including Autism, Down's Syndrome, Developmental Delay, Cerebral Palsy, Visual Impairment, and Spina Bifida, I have had a chance to differentiate the use of these apps with really great results.  So here we go...

Five Swimming Sharks*
Ease of Use: Either in touch base mode or with switch interface, this app is very easy to use.  After setting up the Bluetooth switch interface, just enter the app, Switch Settings, click enable switch then x out. Easy peasey lemon squeezey.  This is single and 2 switch capable.  It has the song and 3 additional counting activities to the number 5.  I only wish that the third counting activity, counting in sets, had an easy exit besides exiting the app completely with the iPad's home button.
Visuals: Clear, bold colors accompany the words and numbers associated with the song and 3 counting games making it really good for early readers.  Not overly complicated for children with visual impairments.
Auditory:  I know the song is set to a tune from my childhood, but I cannot figure it out! Either way, it is consistent verse allows for easy learning.  Students and staff were shocked initially at the duck-eating shark but soon realized the humor in it.  And the british singer is pleasant to listen to.
Engagement Factor: The students are enamored with the cause and effect.  I have watched as my students learn wait, my turn, targeting, and counting.  I have printed and laminated the pictures of all of the apps so they can make choices, and they often will deliberately choose this one.
Overall: 5 out of 5 Coffee Cups.  This app can support early math and literacy concepts easily in the classroom and at home.   Click here for a youtube video posted by TecAssistive so you can have the song stuck in your head too.

Five Little Aliens:*
Cost: $2.99
Ease of Use:  This was the second app I had purchased and got my hooked onto Inclusive Tech, honestly.  This is a single switch capable app with a song and two additional counting activities.  Same set up as above.
Visuals: How can you not love the cute little green men?  Clear simple animation accompanied with the words and numbers and a not-complicated background makes it easy to watch.
Auditory: I can never get these songs out of the my head. Neither can the teachers or the students. It is an easy tune to recall with consistent verse and the same lovely british singer.
Engagement Factor: When I see children with the most severe and impaired motor coordination hit that switch over and over to continue the song or count along, I know they are learning, playing and showing others they are as well.
Overall: Overflowing 5 out of 5 Coffee Cups.  Everything about this app I adore, and so do the kids.

Five Little Rock Stars*:
Cost: $2.99
Ease of Use: Can be used with and without a switch.  See above, as I have noticed Inclusive Tech is consistent with their switch enabling process. This is a single switch capable app.  It has the song and 2 additional counting activities to the number 5.
Visuals: The background is duller than the animated rock stars so it helps to keep the attention without being overly distracting.  The songs and activities are accompanied by the words on bottom of the screen, and the number is on top.  Between each activation, this makes it easy to reinforce number recognition, early reading skills, and counting.
Auditory:  The tune is catchy. The song has a longer verse as compared to the other interactive song apps and I do wish it was shorter, but my students love it still.
Engagement Factor: I crack up that this is becoming some of my students' favorite song.  Some of my students with significant oral apraxia can clearly say "rock star" when requesting this app.
Overall: Simialr to Five Little Aliens and Five Swimming Sharks, Rock Stars provides a song and additional counting games for numbers 1 -5.  If the kids love it and they are learning, its a 4 5/6th out of 5 Coffee Cups.

I find it incredibly important to be in touch with the app developers because as a therapist and parent, I am one of the many on the front lines.  If there are things I like, love, or dislike greatly, I tell them, either in an email or a review.  I had reached out to Inclusive Tech to share some of my thoughts and the person to whom I was connected was thoughtful and thorough with his response.  I hope to see some of my suggestions in future apps or versions.  But whether or not that happens, IT appears to be a company with the children in mind and I look forward to seeing more of their developments.

Oh, and if anyone can tell me the names of the songs that these are based to I will thank you forever, it has been driving me nuts!

*indicates that I purchased this app

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