Clicker Tales - Success Story

Chris Peak

Adaptive Technology Specialist

The Classroom "Powered By Clicker"

Clicker is a fantastic and flexible tool which enables those with disabilities to more independently access curriculum resources and explore their learning in a way that they would normally be unable to. It is fully customisable allowing the resources to be tailored specifically for the needs of the individual. It has integrated switch access making it a great tool to teach switch and IT access skills, either as a standalone activity or within the lesson structure. All in all, it is my opinion that Clicker should be a key tool in any classroom to give students with complex needs the opportunity to demonstrate their learning more independently.

Screenshot from Jack and the BeanstalkClicker Tales is a series of on-screen talking books based on traditional stories. Each story is accompanied by a range of Clicker activities.
The stories can be customised to suit the needs of the individual allowing those with complex disabilities to enjoy the activity and develop skills such as cause and effect, choice making and switch timing. There is the option to enable auditory feedback when either scanning with switches or using the mouse pointer. This is a fantastic tool for those with visual difficulties and those without the cognitive ability to recognise symbols or words. Everything you see on the page can be adjusted so you can make buttons and icons as big or as small as you like. You can also move everything on the page to wherever you like.

I use Clicker Tales in the classroom regularly and then build other activities based on the templates used in the stories.

Let me give you an example:

I had a student - let's call her Sam - who used a single chin switch to access the computer. It was clear that Sam was very intelligent, but her ability to demonstrate her understanding and learning was very limited as her physical needs were so complex. Once Sam had consolidated her understanding of cause and effect with her switch and had developed reasonable switch control and timing skills, it was time for her to develop her ability to make functional choices on the computer. The ability to actively make choices using a switch for Sam meant that a whole new world of technology and resources would open up to her.

It was clear from the first time I presented Clicker Tales to Sam that she was very excited by the stories and was eager to have a go. I initially customised the stories so that she had to choose between two on-screen options - "listen" and "next page". I set the activity up with an auditory, single switch scan. This meant that Sam pressed her switch to start the scan moving between the two options. As the scan box passed over each option it would read it aloud and she could press her switch again to activate the option she wanted. It took a few weeks of experimenting with timings, speeding up and slowing down the scan and trying to filter out accidental switch presses. A great feature of Clicker is that you can easily filter any accidental switch presses and tailor the switch access around the individual. You can customise everything so specifically and intricately that you can make the computer and activity accessible to most individuals, no matter how complex their disability.

Of course, as far as lesson planning went, we could set really clear, specific and meaningful targets for Sam and in turn she was able to demonstrate her learning in a fun independent manner. Now we had a platform to develop further choice making and I added another choice in to the activity so that she now had "listen", "next page", and "go back". Sam has now been able to transfer these skills to begin using a VOCA (voice output communication aid) and there is no stopping her. She has found her voice and the ability to explore her own learning more independently. The Clicker Tales activities along with other titles in the "Powered by Clicker" series have become integral to Sam's learning in the classroom and also in her home life. Instead of having a story read to her by her parents, she is now able to read to them! This is fantastic and a real achievement for Sam.

There are many other titles in the "Powered by Clicker" series covering multiple areas of the curriculum and at various key stages. For students like Sam this means that they have the tools available to them to access their learning in new and interesting ways.