Sunday, December 6, 2015

More "Under the Hood" Stuff

In an earlier post, Under the Hood (, I discussed the complex animation sequences that are required to make the animated steps look as realistic as possible. As you are well aware, each Animated Step-by-Step™ (ASbyS) incorporates several animations per page. The animations are sequentially programmed, i.e., each click will advance the program to the next animation. The sequential nature of the animations can be used in conjunction with the safe zone  ( to make ASbyS perfect for giving a student using a switch a more active role in that group lesson. On the ‘down side’, however, you do have to be careful to not inadvertently touch the board as touching the interactive whiteboard (with anything other than the pen tool), will either trigger an animation or move you to the next page. “Yikes that’s not what I wanted to do!”         

Occasionally a lesson lends itself to assigning sound to various graphics on the page.

For example, when you touch the colored clothing items on the page in I Spy with My Little Eye it gives you auditory feedback as to the correctness of your choice when asked to locate ‘something that is blue.” Similarly when you touch a printed word or a star in the Parts of the Mealworm lesson, that corresponding word will be spoken.

On the surface this ‘touch to produce audio’ feature looks easy enough but it is actually quite tricky given there is often also an animation sequence on the page.  If you accurately touch the graphic it works great but if a child mispoints and touches outside the graphic you run the risk of the program advancing to the next animation or the next page depending upon where you are in the sequence. Yikes again!

Eventually I figured out the solution to this dilemma … create a large ‘safe zone’ that is positioned behind the audio-supported graphics. Now when that child with less than perfect targeting skills misses the target slightly the outcome is not devastating … it only produces an inert action (a brief silence) …that does not disrupt the program. Illustrated below are the ‘safe zones’ that lie behind the graphics with programmed actions to produce audio.

I’m sure this is more information that you actually wanted … or for that matter needed but it’s offered only to let you know that there is lot of ‘behind the scenes’ work necessary to make that Animated Step-by-Steps work for a broad range of students. Worth the effort?   Most definitely! I want the Animated Step-by-Steps™ to be as good a fit as possible … for as many students as possible.

…’til the next post  (new posts every Monday)

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©2015 Carol Goossens’, Ph.D.
Augmentative Communication Consultant
Speech-Language Pathologist
Special Educator