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Visual Schedule Support – Review of Visual Schedule Apps for iPad

Visual Support – Review of Visual Schedule Apps for iPad

Visual schedules are a great tool to help students keep up with their daily school routines. They can increase independence and reduce the need for continuous teacher/parent intervention.

This study focuses mainly on older students (intermediate and secondary students)and we have also included a couple of recommendations for early learners at the end of the review.

Some of our older students  have difficulty with transitions. This can significantly limit a student’s ability to independently complete activities across environments throughout the school day.

They have been shown to be effective in decreasing the latency time between activities and in increasing students’ skills to transition independently from one environment to another. Support by visual schedules contributes greatly to the reduction of stress, anxiety and behavioural issues.

A wide range of visual scheduling apps were trialled.Each was downloaded from the iTunes store.

 An extensive testing criteria was covered, such as customisability; text to speech options; category and picture library; voice recording; speech to text; alarm functions; video; language; ease of use and device compatibility.

Results were mixed. A number of apps were quite simple in design and use. Some were obviously more suited to a younger student as well as relying a lot on adult input and control.

Here are the ones that are better suited to the older student. All are compatible with iPhones and iPod Touch.

Visual Schedule Planner 1JPG.JPG Visual Schedule Planner ($18.99) http://www.goodkarmaapplications.com

The Visual Schedule Planner came out as the best performer.

It has an extensive scheduling system with well thought out features such as being able to link to exterior video, prompting and reminder options, a reward/point system and provision of home/school notes. There are more customisation options than iPrompts.

 At first glance, it seems busy, but persevere. Once customised, it works really well. You can add your own voice recordings, photos and messages.

I suggest you watch the Vimeo on You Tube. It gives clear instructions on use.

My Daily tasks.JPG My Daily Tasks. ($16.99) https://www.abelvox.com

Similar to the Visual Schedule Planner, however...BUYER BEWARE!!

If you buy the LITE version (which is the only one advertised in iTunes store), there is a hidden cost. For an extra $12.99 you can purchase the voice engine. There are up to 83 different voice engines and 20 languages. Your extra payment only buys one voice. Without this, the app is virtually useless as you can’t access languages, sounds or video. It seems a shame the developers have done this and not been upfront. Otherwise, it would have been a good alternative to the Visual Schedule Planner.

 iPromptsJPG.JPG iPrompts.($64.99) http://www.handholdadaptive.com

This app is supposed to be one of the top research – based apps that provides visual support. It has some reasonably good features such as video modelling assets and an extensive picture library with drawn characters (male and female versions).

You can add your own photos to the library but you cannot add your own videos.You can add a number of steps to any schedule and add a timer to activities.

There are a few drawbacks: the obvious one - the cost, but also the video modelling is presented in American accents and uses colloquial language (e.g. “turn the sink on” when washing hands). Because of the cost take a close look at it first to make sure it fits your child’s needs before you buy.            

 Visual Routine.JPG  Visual Schedule ($4.99) http://a4cws.com

This is a very simple app that has no timer or alarm and does not have a video function.

 It has a basic step by step process. The schedule is easy to program and use. It has a limited picture library but allows flexibility in adding your own text, audio or images to routine steps.

It also has a unique feature which allows embedding of up to four choices within a routine step. These can be used for choices (e.g. as part of a morning routine: the choices of toast or cereal could be embedded into one step. You can use this feature to break down a step into a smaller,” bite- size” step. It is suitable for a student who just needs a little support in remembering what to do next or training a younger child into sequencing or routine.

Recommended for Early Learners

 First & Then Kidex.JPG First &Then ($ 2.59)https://www.kidex.com.au

 This simple app is based on a “first –then” strategy. There are two screens (First, Then) where tasks and activities can be modified as needed. You can add your own photos from your file. It has a timer and a 'finished' box as well.

This is a good starter app for sequencing and shaping learning behaviour. You can also make a low tech version using a laminate template and customised picture icons.

  Time TimerJPG.JPG Time Timer ($6.98) http://timetimer.com

This is an easy to use app that helps children and students to visualise time e.g. how much time is left for an activity.

There are three kinds of clock face (Original 60 minutes, Custom, and Clock).You can choose four timers with four different colours to use at once or one at a time per activity. Digital or analogue time can be used.

There are a lot of visual scheduling apps out there. Remember to think about what your  student needs before you purchase one.

Use the Black Box technique to help you (see our earlier Assistive Technology Discussion pages for this information).

For more information from this review email me at cat.help@minedu.govt.nz

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Assistive Technology

Assistive Technology

Using technology to support students with disabilities and special learning needs.